Science and scientific literacy play a key role in educating citizens of today for the world tomorrow. Critical to succeeding in this endeavour are the core competencies that provide students with the ability to think critically, solve problems, and make ethical decisions; to communicate their questions, express opinions, and challenge ideas in a scientifically literate way; and to exercise an awareness of their role as an ecologically literate citizenry, engaged and competent in meeting the responsibilities of caring for living things and the planet.
Features of the Science curriculum
- With a renewed focus on inquiry, the Science curriculum provides students with opportunities to ask questions, identify their beliefs and opinions, consider a range of views, work collaboratively, and ultimately make informed conclusions that lead to responsible choices for themselves, their families, and their communities.
- The story of science told in the curriculum is a journey that takes the students from becoming aware of their immediate environment to considering the impact of local actions and decisions on a global scale.
- Conceptual learning for all science students is supported, and both traditional ecological knowledge and First Peoples perspectives are embedded in the curriculum.
Design of the Science curriculum
The redesigned Science curriculum has the same format as all other areas of learning. Four curriculum elements — the Big Ideas, Curricular Competencies, Content, and Elaborations — link the knowing, doing, and understanding of science learning. By connecting science knowledge with a hands-on approach to doing science, the curriculum elements support learning in biology, chemistry, physics, and Earth/space science, leading to a deep understanding of science concepts.
The BC Science curriculum contributes to students’ development as educated citizens through the achievement of the following goals. Students are expected to:
- develop an understanding and appreciation of the nature of science as an evidence-based way of knowing the natural world that yields descriptions and explanations that are continually being improved within the context of our cultural values and ethics
- develop place-based knowledge of the natural world and experience the local area in which they live by accessing and building on existing understandings, including those of First Peoples
- develop a solid foundation of conceptual and procedural knowledge in science that they can use to interpret the natural world and apply to new problems, issues, and events; to further learning; and to their lives
- develop the habits of mind associated with science — a sustained curiosity; a valuing of questions; an openness to new ideas and consideration of alternatives; an appreciation of evidence; an awareness of assumptions and a questioning of given information; a healthy, informed skepticism; a seeking of patterns, connections, and understanding; and a consideration of social, ethical, and environmental implications
- develop a lifelong interest in science and the attitudes that will make them scientifically literate citizens who bring a scientific perspective, as appropriate, to social, moral, and ethical decisions and actions in their own lives, culture, and the environment
- Updated Science Safety Manual
- Knowing Home: Braiding Indigenous Science with Western Science
- FNESC Science Curriculum
- Coyote Science
This video is designed to help teachers understand some of the differences between the previous and redesigned curriculum
Inquiry in Science
The redesigned Science curriculum is rooted in inquiry. Inquiry is the tool with which students gain content knowledge, learn the habits of mind and skills and processes associated with the doing of science, develop a deeper understanding of science concepts through big ideas, and acquire core competencies as scientifically educated citizens. Inquiry has been emphasized in the redesigned curriculum, with learning standards focused on “doing,” Curricular Competencies structured within an inquiry process model, and numerous Elaborations providing sample questions for students to explore.
Scientific habits of mind
Scientists and students alike use scientific habits of mind as they delve into the system of inquiry that we know as science. Scientific habits of mind are important for equipping students with the thinking skills necessary for engaging in the pursuit of discovery and innovation, as well as for understanding science. In addition, when students approach learning with scientific habits of mind, science learning is exciting and includes a knowledge base that is constantly refined and expanded and is relevant to the modern world. Developing scientific habits of mind provides students with the thinking skills to effectively participate in society as scientifically educated citizens and invites them to explore further studies in science.
Scientific habits of mind include:
- A sustained intellectual curiosity — the desire to continually learn more about something of interest
- An openness to new ideas and consideration of alternatives — an attitude of wonder and interest in new concepts, coupled with a willingness to rethink notions and form new opinions based on evidence
- An appreciation of evidence — an understanding of what proves or disproves a scientific theory
- An awareness of assumptions and a questioning of givens — mindful questioning about something accepted as true without evidence
- A healthy, informed skepticism — challenging the truth of a claim by requiring additional evidence
- A desire to seek patterns, connections, and understanding — the ability to make connections in information and interpret meaning from the patterns
- A consideration of social, ethical, and environmental implications — a willingness to think about personal, societal, moral, and environmental impacts of actions
The environment and science learning
Educated citizens understand the importance of learning about the environment. Environmental education is part of the Personal and Social Core Competency, because it is a responsibility that connects with every area of learning. While the Science curriculum enables a variety of instructional approaches, it was designed with a place-based approach in mind. A place-based approach is an evolving, cross-curricular instructional approach that emphasizes the value of learning directly from one’s own community or region. Place-based learning:1
- Emphasizes hands-on, real-world learning experiences
- Helps students develop ties to their community
- Enhances students’ appreciation for the natural world
- Develops an active, engaged, educated citizenry
As students experience and interpret their local environment, they develop their sense of place. Place is any environment, locality, or context with which people interact to learn, create memory, reflect on history, connect with culture, and establish identity. The connection between people and place is foundational to First Peoples perspectives of the world.
Scientifically educated citizens are place-conscious, see themselves as part of the planet rather than ruler of the planet, stay informed about scientific developments, and are aware of the impact of science on the planet and its systems. The redesigned Science curriculum features reflection questions about place, to develop environmental awareness and a deep understanding of ecological concepts.