How science works – an overview

By 22nd February 2016Education

‘How science works’ is still a hot topic in science education throughout the World. Science educators wrestle with the balance between the rigour of academic science and bringing the excitement and importance of science into the daily lives of everyone.

In 2006 a new curriculum for science was introduced for key stage 4. This was born out of a belief that the priority for compulsory science education up to the age of 16 should be scientific literacy.

Prior to this school science was largely based on facts and the scientific method and was aimed at the few who would become scientists; the rest of the population were often turned off and illiterate as far as science was concerned.

In the 21st century all young people need to leave compulsory education knowledgeable about the science that underpins their lives. They should be able to evaluate information and media about science issues, such as health and environment and be able to make informed decisions.

To do this the ‘what we know’ knowledge component was to be underpinned by a ‘how we know’ strand. Young people would be taught the tools to engage critically with reports about scientific issues. This would be based on giving them an appreciation of how scientists collect reliable data and come up with explanations to account for the data. This new strand of the curriculum was given the name ‘How science works’. To find out more about why HSW was introduced click here.

For key stage 4 this covered four areas:

  • Data, evidence, theories and explanations
  • Practical and enquiry skills
  • Communication skills
  • Applications and implications of science

More detail of what is included in these categories can be found here.

Perhaps instead of ‘How science works’, ‘How scientists work’ is a more correct term.