Monthly Archives: February 2017

Scientific Literacy

What does it mean to be scientifically literate? Well first off, you need to know what it means to be literate; being literate is having the ability to read and write (Oxford University Press, 2016). Having this ability to read and write helps us in everyday life without us really noticing. For example, being literate means that we can read newspapers and read and write text messages. So, from using this concept of what it means to be literate, I would presume that being scientifically literate means having the ability to understand scientific terminology and use it accurately in writing.
Understanding scientific literacy and being able to use them means that someone has the ability to pose questions about science. This means that they can understand and draw conclusions from experiments, understand why specific reactions are happening and are able to explain it. It is important that anyone who wishes to teach or explain science must be, to some extent, scientifically literate.

“If our attitudes are based on accurate knowledge they are more likely to be positive than if based on hearsay and innuendo. However, research (Irwin and Wynne, 1996; Miller et al., 1997) indicates that scientific literacy is not common in society and is an extremely complex concept, although many adults are extremely competent on a need-to-know basis.” (Johnston, 2005, p.109). Scientific literacy means having an understanding of science, but not only this, it means being able to form questions and conclusions from the evidence found through experiments. Teaching fair testing in school science links to scientific literacy in many ways, for example ensuring variables in an experiment are valid and that information gathered is reliable. In our group, we created our own task to demonstrate fair testing. We had 4 groups of people, all at different starting points trying to throw an object into a hula-hoop. Group 1 were closest and had a bean bag whilst Group 4 were furthest away and had to throw a shuttlecock. There were other variable such as which hand to throw with, the angle on which they were throwing and the size of the hula-hoop. Group 1 would be more likely to achieve this, and Group 4 didn’t have much chance of achieving this. By demonstrating this in school it shows how fair testing is important for a valid and fair result. However, if all the pupils were to throw from the same angle and the same distance with the same object, the results would be valid and reliable and no one would be disadvantaged. This links to scientific literacy as it lets the children understand more about variables and they may be able to form questions and conclusions from this. (287 words)


Johnston, J. (2005) Early explorations in science. 2nd edn. Maidenhead, England: Open University Press.

Brodie, Danielle, Kiera and Micha