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Why Science?

EDUC 4200-YA

Professor: Wayne Melville

September 26, 2016

By: Imran Malik


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Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate
systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life - Marcus Aurelius
(Brainy Quote 2016).

Science helps us to understand the world around us, the world in front of us, and
the world inside us. It is this quest for knowledge and understanding that draws me to
science. I believe the reason I chose to pursue science in my education is that it provides
us with an opportunity to question all we observe, and to continuously probe our universe
through experimentation.

Todays society has become increasingly scientific and technological, and is one
in which many personal decisions involve scientific understanding. To make decisions on
issues like these we need to understand; what scientific knowledge is relevant, how
reliable the knowledge is, how the knowledge was generated, the limits of that
knowledge, and how much confidence we can have in that knowledge (Nature of
Science, 2011). Science gives young people additional tools to understand the world
around them, and the ability to engage with contemporary and future issues, such as
medical advances and climate change (Holman, 2013).

Carl Sagan said science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of
knowledge (Brainy Quote 2016). Science provides us with a way of observing and
questioning our surroundings that I believe is key to making positive advancements in
any society. It is this way of thinking that makes me want to continue in the pursuit of
scientific education as a career.

My first memories of science actually come from home rather than through my
schooling. My father was a man of science, being a physician as well as previously
working as a scientist, so I went into school having already built an interest in science.
Throughout my primary schooling lessons were largely projector-based, and did in fact
further the opinion in many that science is a boring field, fit for only the brightest of
minds. When high school ended I originally wanted to pursue a career as a teacher,
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however I was convinced that the jobs would be in science and research, and that was the
path to follow. This led me to do my undergraduate degree in science at the University of
Western Ontario.

Due to extremely large class sizes, my first two years of undergraduate classes did
not provide a collaborative environment, or one where students were encouraged to share
their ideas, correct or incorrect. This lead to a common cycle, which I would use to
describe my undergraduate education as a whole; read the material, memorize as much as
quickly as you can, write the exam, forget about the material and replace it with what you
need to memorize for the next class exam. While this technique proved quite successful
in terms of grades, the bigger picture of science and how what we were learning fit
together as a whole was eluding me, and science education had become more of a chore
than a pursuit of knowledge and understanding.

It wasnt until the latter years of undergrad and during my Masters degree that
classes were finally of a smaller size, and interaction with peers started to become more
prevalent during class time. These peer discussions allowed me to finally start to get an
idea of science as a whole, and of how it fit into our everyday lives and affected large-
scale world issues. During these two years, group presentations were quite frequently
used, which allowed me to learn from my peers, while allowing me to showcase my
presentation skills as well. I think it is great to see now that teachers are being
encouraged to use more group activities structured to ensure students are accountable for
their own learning, and to assess students on a wide variety of factors, rather than just on
grades.

American physicist and astronaut Sally Ride said, Science is fun. Science is
curiosity. We all have natural curiosity. Science is a process of investigating. It's posing
questions and coming up with a method. It's delving in (Brainy Quote 2016). When I
look back at my education, I dont really feel as though this attitude was always present.
It was more of a here are the facts, go and learn and regurgitate them. My ultimate goal
as a science teacher is not only to pass my knowledge of the scientific facts on to the
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students, but to open their eyes to the fact that science is not what they think it is. Science
is fun, science is awe-inspiring, it can shed a new light on a subject that was thought to be
understood, it can generate questions and new mysteries that were before unseen such as
black holes, dark energy and dark matter. Above all else, science gives us a critical way
of thinking that translates into our life decisions.

We have seen in the coming American election that some people are unwilling to
see the world from a different perspective and are unwilling to challenge their beliefs. My
goal as an educator will be to promote a critical way of thinking, and to give students the
tools needed to analyze the world around them and the thoughts inside them. To be able
to make use of science in their daily lives, students need to have an understanding of the
nature of science. Our students need to be able to evaluate, critique and respond to data
presented as scientific evidence in media reports and in advertising (Shafter, 2015).
Einstein said to raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a
new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science (Brainy
Quote 2016), and it is this creative imagination that I will try to allow to flourish in my
students.

Even back in the 400s BC, Socrates showed us the power and integrity of
independent thought, by encouraging people to honestly question their pre-conceptions. It
was once accepted that the sun revolved around the earth, until Nicolaus Copernicus
dared to imagine a different solution. Through the works of others who followed,
including Galileos work with a telescope, we now know that the earth does indeed
revolve around the sun, and even further than that we now know that the sun is not the
center of our universe, it is not even the center of our galaxy. It was once accepted that
the atom was the smallest particle of matter in our universe, in fact atom means
indivisible. We have since found numerous subatomic particles, such as electrons,
protons and quarks. Isaac Newton saw an apple falling and questioned why it would do
so, leading to an understanding of gravity.
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None of these discoveries would have occurred if people hadnt continued to push
the boundaries, dared to imagine that something different than what weve been told can
actually be the truth, and to critically analyze the works of even the greatest minds in a
continual pursuit of knowledge for the greater good. I believe by allowing students to
learn through some of sciences greatest figures, we allow them the opportunity to learn
these important life lessons. Through learning about past scientific discoveries we begin
to understand how we must continue to question what has been accepted as the truth, and
that through experimentation and observation we can help to discover real truths. By
explaining past scientific discoveries, we can also teach how science applies to our
everyday lives, and that scientific education and critical thinking applies to all careers.

Albert Einstein's E=mc2 is probably the world's most famous equation. Created
from his theory of relativity, it suggests that tiny amounts of mass can be converted into
huge amounts of energy. I can honestly say that I dont recall a teacher of mine ever
relating this equation to real-life value for society. This theory paved the way for the
development of nuclear power and inventions such as synchronization of the global
positioning system (GPS). I want to give students the opportunity to understand how
these discoveries and equations apply to their lives, so that the next time a students in-car
navigation system brings them directly to their destination, they remember that they have
Einstein to thank for not getting lost.
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References

Anonymous, 2016. Science quotes. Brainy Quote.


http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_science.html. Retrieved September
2016.

Anonymous, 2011. Reasons for teaching the nature of science. Nature of Science.
http://sciencelearn.org.nz/Nature-of-Science/Reasons-for-teaching-the-nature-of-science.
Retrieved September 2016.

Holman, John. 2013. We cannot afford to get science education wrong. The Conversation.
http://theconversation.com/we-cannot-afford-to-get-science-education-wrong-20667.
Retrieved September 2016.

Shafer, L. 2015. Why Science? Amid stem enthusiasm, stepping back to consider the
broader purpose of teaching and learning science. Usable knowledge.
https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/15/11/why-science. Retrieved September 2016.