Importance of Scientific Literacy


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What is Scientific Literacy?

Highly used across today’s media, yet low understanding in meaning—So, what does it mean to incorporate scientific literacy / be scientifically literate?

a citizen's ability to possesses knowledge/skills to make informed decisions involving scientific issues, through a process of life-long science learning.  To achieve knowledge, the science community must engage the Public to gain necessary knowledge/skill-development to make decisions currently facing our planet

As public policies are driven through use of science/statistics, can the Public make sound choices?  Are they easily manipulated by political rhetoric, social media, memes, etc?  Discern the difference between quality of resource?
Scientific literacy is more than an academic requirement of teachers, it impacts our lives on grand scales—our environment AND economy

NESTA encourages educators to engage their students with relevant tools that assist to become scientifically literate citizens of tomorrow


Earth & Space Sciences Literacy Guides


Scientific Literacy Definitions

Knowledge & understanding of scientific concepts/processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic/cultural affairs & economic productivity

A scientifically literate person has capacity to:

  • Understand, experiment, reason as well as interpret scientific facts & their meaning
  • Ask, find, or determine answers to questions derived from curiosity about everyday experiences
  • Describe, explain, predict natural phenomena
  • Read articles with understanding of science in popular press & engage in social conversation about validity of the conclusions
  • Identify scientific issues underlying national & local decisions; express positions that are scientifically & technologically informed
  • Evaluate quality of scientific information on basis of source & methods used to generate it
  • Pose/evaluate arguments based on evidence & apply conclusions from arguments appropriately


Ability to engage with science-related issues & with the ideas of science, as a reflective citizen

A scientifically literate person willing to engage in reasoned discourse about science &  technology requiring competencies to:

  • Explain phenomena scientifically—recognize, offer, evaluate explanations for a range of natural & technological phenomena
  • Evaluate/design scientific inquiry—describe/appraise scientific investigations & propose ways of addressing questions scientifically
  • Interpret data/evidence scientifically—analyze/ evaluate data, claims & arguments in variety of representations & draw appropriate scientific conclusions


Science Literacy Skills


  • Use, create, analyzewritten, numerical & digital representations of information/data 
  • Understand/utilizeprocess of science as a method of asking questions/finding answers 
  • Use & interpret appropriate units of measurethrough statistical aggregation methodsunderstand difference between the two & when to appropriately use
  • Understand core principles associated with basic fields of science: Earth science, physical science, life science



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