Being a new father has not only changed my views on education, but also questioned the way I teach and why I teach. As a science teacher, there is such an emphasis on scientific knowledge and facts. I remember that as a middle school student, I had a friend who everyone considered smart because he knew a lot of scientific facts.  But with the ease of discovering the myriad of scientific facts in our modern internet age, what exactly is scientific literacy?

Would a student who can remember a lot of various scientific facts be considered very scientifically literate? or would one who has the ability to investigate, and discover with past facts be more scientific.  More often than not, science class is seen as either factual/memorization, or filled with fun experiments.  But how exactly can we encourage scientific literacy in our students?  As much as the importance of scientific facts and the regurgitation of them, I mean, it is important to remember the basics, and how things work based on the facts, but it is also important to be able to describe and prove the facts that you know.  Everyone after gr.12 should be able to say that the earth is round, or that the earth revolves around the sun instead of the sun revolving around the earth.  But could those same individuals be able to explain and further demonstrate via experimentation of those such facts?  If Eratostenes can come close to measuring the circumference of the earth with nothing more than observations of stars and math, then for us as students and teachers with the existence of powerful technologies should be able to explain and prove such facts if we were to travel back in time.  Another example is proving the circulation of the blood. Most students should be able to tell you that a heart exist, but could they provide the explanation of how blood floods despite knowing blood is indeed found in blood vessels?

I believe that is the true test of scientific literacy, and that is to be able to describe and provide proof on such facts.

Thoughts?