& Numeracy home | What is Science?
Notes to teachers/instructors/tutors
This activity illustrates ways in which scientific content can
be integrated with writing skills, critical reading, analysis, and
evaluation. This exemplifies the kinds of activities suggested by
adult basic education curriculum, Equipped for the Future, and preparation
for the GED.
The activity has a workplace focus, because all the scientists
discuss the skills and training needed in order to do their work.
They also discuss the joys and frustrations of their jobs.
These eight scientists are members
of the Core Knowledge Advisory Group for the Science & Numeracy
Special Collection. Not only are they well-regarded and world-renowned
researchers, they also have a commitment to adult basic education
and adult literacy. The interviews were conducted between October
2002 and July 2003. Each scientist answered the same questions about
jobs, interests, and the nature of science itself. Their answers
show interesting similarities and differences, as well as a wide
range of outside interests and hobbies. Their answers dispel the
commonly-held view that scientists stay in laboratories without
contact with the outside world.
This activity is suited to individual learners and for groups of
learners. To begin the activity, learners might think about the
- What is science?
- What is your mental picture of a scientist?
- Why would a person become a scientist?
- What skills and abilities are necessary in order to be a
Learners then can compare their answers with those of the scientists.
Learners also can compare their responses to those of other learners.
The following questions could be used for discussion:
- What is the picture we have in mind when we think about scientists?
- Where did we get these mental images?
- How are scientists portrayed in the media?
- How do these scientists define science?
- Why did they become interested in science as a career?
- What do the scientists say about their jobs?
An instructor might use this activity with a group of learners
as a springboard to writing. There is a graphic organizer available
as an aid to writing. A learner could compare his/her responses
to those of a specific scientist. The statements of several scientists
might be compared to each other. An instructor might use this as
a jigsaw format activity for a larger group of learners.
The scientists and the lesson designer have tried to simplify the
language in this activity. However, it is difficult to find appropriate
and accurate substitutes for scientific and technical terms. Therefore,
a glossary is included with this activity.
If learners wish to write to individual scientists, have them send
their messages to Susan Cowles.
Indicate in the subject line the name of the scientist for whom
the message is intended.