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Why Learn Science?
       Far too many students take science courses solely because they are required to do so. Similarly, their goal is often just based on the grade that is earned, rather than the concepts that are learned. In many cases, the students simply want to get the required credit. Others have higher goals, but they are only concerned with how the grade will affect their GPA. Actually, those should not be the focus. If you truly want to learn, those factors will follow without worry.
       First and foremost, science gives you a clearer understanding of the world around you. It helps explain what you observe with each of your senses. Likewise, it lets you comprehend what is happening without having to depend on the opinions of others. As Richard Feynman said in The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, “The world looks so different after learning science.”
       A secondary benefit that follows from learning science is that you are able to make better decisions. Your comprehension of the world you deal with every day allows you to make rational choices. This is far better than either randomly deciding what to do or merely following the largest crowd. This is an important goal of concerned teachers. Sharon Begley pointed this out in an article she wrote in The Wall Street Journal on December 17, 2004. “If there is one thing about science that educators and scientists wish students would learn, it isn’t the difference between an isotope and an isomer or any of the hundreds of other facts that pepper textbooks and tests. It is how to think critically about scientific data and concepts, and be able to synthesize and apply them.”
       Scientific knowledge also gives you more independence. This applies to what you are doing and the plans you make. You are in a position to make rational choices and you have a sense of confidence in what you select to do. You can still take input from others, but you are now able to evaluate this advice and decide on its validity. This is far better than blindly accepting what you are told.
       Science also fits in with other factors that affect your life. Science is the first part of a good STEM education. Science, technology, engineering and math are all integrated with one another and influence almost everything you do in the modern world. All electronic devices – cell phones, televisions, cars, refrigerators, AC systems – are applications of science. The better you understand the fundamental science, the better applications you can make of it.
       A scientific education also increases the options for your future. This does not mean you have to plan to become a scientist, doctor or engineer. A better understanding of science means that more doors are open when you want to make choices – both in further education and in professions. In addition to being an educator, in the past I have worked in a hospital, as an artist, in computer programing and as a zookeeper, just to give a sampling of my diverse experiences. In each case, my knowledge of science was a clear benefit.
       As an additional benefit, a foundation in science can help your curiosity grow. Knowledge in science answers questions of what you observe and experience, but it likewise leads to more questions. Learning something in science casts a brighter light on a particular subject. However, casting a broader light simultaneously increases the area of darkness that boarders that light. This continuously leads to new questions and the urge to learn more.
       As noted on one of my grandson’s shirts: “Science – It’s like magic, but for smart people.”
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