Sunday, May 14, 2017

Starting From Scratch

What exactly does it mean to be scientifically literate?

If I really wanted to become "scientifically literate", to have a fundamental foundation to learn, explore, and understand the physical world, and processes involved in that discovery, what basic knowledge would I need? If I were going to do some self study to acquire this foundation, and if I was building my own educational curriculum, what kind of coursework would I want to mimic in my learning?

The most concrete examples of guidelines I could find came from Drake University, University of Oregon, University of Buffalo (UB2), Loyola University of Chicago, a New Hampshire State K-12 Scientific Literacy Framework, the AAAS, the Minnesota Literacy Council, the Earth Science Literacy Initiative, and a Big Think video featuring Charles Vest.

Cumulatively, it looks like things generally add up to the following below. Any way I look at it, it seems like a lot of work.

The Big Four
Physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics. Or, more specifically, the equivalent of physics I and II, chemistry I and II (and III depending on who you ask), organic chemistry I and II, and biology I and II. For math, at least algebra and trig. Calculus, statistics, and symbolic logic helpful.

Human health, nutrition, wellness, fitness, the science of sex. Human psychology, biological basis of social behavior, biocultural diversity. Anthropological inquiry, origins, ecological footprint.

Everyday Physics
Physics of sound and music, the internet, energy and the environment. Quantum mechanics. Foundation of physics.

Earth & Space
Astronomy, solar system, meteorology, planetary and stellar astronomy. Geology, geography.

Soils, plants, and foodways. The sea, marine science, freshwater ecosystems.  Biogeography and Biodiversity. Energy and the environment. Environmental locality, hazards, issues, sustainability. Climate, climate change, human impact on the environment.

I suppose the one big thing the combined curriculum misses, for me, is coverage of the infrastructure, utilities, and technology we use everyday. I guess this leans more towards engineering. Electricity, energy, water systems, roads, bridges, etc. Automobiles, cell phones, wi-fi, etc.