ASK A SCIENTIST
Question: Why is science so important to learn about?
At its heart, Science is a study of how the world around us works. The better you understand it, the easier it is solve problems as they come at you. In addition to learning facts about animals, plants, and non-living things, it also helps to learn how scientists work. As scientists work, they gather data, analyze it, and draw conclusions. The data comes from experiments they design or observations of the environment. The plan for collecting data should be based on an idea one has about how something works. The idea is one's hypothesis and the goal is to prove that it is correct. Even if the hypothesis proves to be wrong, that knowledge should be useful.
When a scientist learns something new, the next step is to tell the world via an article in a scientific journal. This will allow other people to use the new knowledge to make life more comfortable or enjoyable for the rest of us. Unfortunately, some people also use scientific knowledge for evil purposes. Even if you are not a scientist you can still use scientific knowledge and thinking to solve the everyday problems you face.
People who take scientific knowledge and apply it to make things are called engineers. In order to use scientific knowledge you have to understand it, which is why engineering students have to take a lot of science courses.
Another important reason to study science is to prepare for a desirable job after you finish school. Many jobs require some understanding of one or more basic scientific fields. For example, zookeepers need to understand biology, farmers need to understand many earth science concepts, cooks need to understand some chemistry, and animators need to understand the physics of motion.
Many people also find scientific information interesting for its own sake. If you are curious about how something works, then a study of the scientific concepts that make it work with help you better understand what is going on. Many magazines and television shows are devoted to helping people understand the science behind the world we live in. Some people also enjoy explaining science to others. If that is your case, you may want to consider a career as a science teacher.
If you are interested in reading some scientific journals online, start with www.scientificamerican.com, www.nsta.org/middleschool, or www.sciencenews.org. You can also do a search for any scientific topic of interest.
Ask a Scientist appears Thursdays. Questions are answered by faculty at Binghamton University. Teachers in the greater Binghamton area who wish to participate in the program are asked to write to Ask A Scientist, c/o Binghamton University, Office of Communications and Marketing, PO Box 6000, Binghamton, NY 13902-6000 or e-mail email@example.com. Check out the Ask a Scientist Web site at askascientist.binghamton.edu. To submit a question, download the submission form(.pdf, 460kb).