Scientific literacy is often misunderstood. It goes beyond knowing scientific words and filling in worksheets like most people think. It even goes beyond science as we think we know it, as it concerns more than the subject of science itself. People who are scientifically literate have specific skills that are necessary in understanding the world. Being able to distinguish between the truth and false statements, for example, the comments made by people in the media. Naivety is preventable through science. It enables the pupils to be more aware of the false claims thrown at them on a daily basis. Rather than just knowing scientific terms, scientific literacy is understanding concepts of science and developing skills to enable everyday successful learning. Through science, we can establish skills such as predicting, understanding, analysing, evaluating and observing. These skills are extremely valuable to help make important life choices.
People who are not scientifically literate can often fall victim to products that have false advertising. One popular example of this is diet fads such as the tea brand Bootea Teatox. This brand highlights that by drinking their special tea, over different time periods, you will experience weight loss results as you detox your body. It seems that many people already jump at the chance for a product that advertises it can influence weight loss however add some complex scientific language in the advertising and quickly the consumer falls into a false sense of confidence in that particular product. Unfortunately Bootea has left out a few important facts about their ingredients and how they can affect the consumer. The ingredients can actually interact with particular prescription medicines and cause them to fail. The side affects are negative and not highlighted clearly as the ingredients can cause vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea. It has also been researched that the product will only cause a loss in water weight and unlikely to perform in the way advertised. Therefore, Bootea consumers have been led to believe that they will undergo a detox experience when actually according to medical advice it could be affecting their health (Johnson, 2017).
Fair testing is a vital part of science in schools. A fair test can be carried out if one variable is changed in the experiment while keeping all other conditions the same. When we are teaching children all about fair testing in the classroom, they are learning and developing vital skills. They learn the importance of being fair in experiments and how this can lead to much more effective results. Linking back to the scientific skills, fair testing can allow children to make use of the skills that can make them scientifically literate such as predicting, observing and evaluating. In experiments, if all conditions are the same apart from one, it will be much easier to determine the effect each condition is having. Looking at fair testing in schools on a wider scale, it will allow the children to understand more deeply the underlying concepts of each experiment and the reasons behind why everything is happening. The skills that children learn in school can of course help them develop a conceptual understanding of what they are learning and be more successful. It can also help children be more successful outside of school and in their future when making important life decisions. It is also important that the experiments link to science topics that are current and can be linked to everyday life. This is linked to the National Science Education Standards (p22) as it is stated that “Scientific literacy means that a person can ask, find, or determine answers to questions derived from curiosity about everyday experiences.”
Johnson, K. (2017). Diet Pills Watchdog | Bootea Review, Bootea Scam, Bootea Diet Tea. [online] Diet Pills Watchdog. Available at: https://www.dietpillswatchdog.com/bootea/ [Accessed 1 Feb. 2017].
National academies press (no date). ‘National Science Education Standards 1996’. (p22). Available at: http://www.nap.edu/read/4962/chapter/4#22. (Accessed 5th February 2017).
Megan Freeburn, Alex Allan, Liam Hamilton and Taylor MacInnes.