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Opportunities in Science and Healthcare 2021

Science is about critical, creative problem solving

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Jo Cox

Schools Engagement Manager, The Royal Society

Science isn’t just the technology in our pocket. From making sense of information online to solving problems in our daily lives, it gives us tools to understand the world.

It is easy to see that studying maths makes you numerate, and studying English makes you literate…but what does studying science make you?

This is a question asked by many secondary school students who suddenly find (in England at least) that they cannot simply drop science in Year 10. Why is science a core subject?

Surely science is for those students who want to go on to be doctors, or vets, or work in a lab? This couldn’t be further from the truth because science isn’t just about knowing stuff; it’s actually a way of thinking.

Journalist, paramedic or games designer

If we look at science in its broadest sense, it gives students key transferable skills that are applicable to all types of careers – from those that are not related to science at all, to those that are. There are many scientific careers beyond those that we can readily recall and a career in science gives you the opportunity to make a difference to our society.

Consider a paramedic, who needs to critically assess the situation in front of them, make accurate observations and consider the evidence – skills you learn in the science classroom.

If we look at science in its broadest sense, it gives students key transferable skills that are applicable to all types of careers

Games designers use logic and data skills to build fun and realistic virtual worlds. Imagine a journalist – regardless of the subject matter, they need to be able to critically assess the facts in front of them, to analyse the data and look at the evidence before they write up their copy – all skills you learn from studying science.

Problem solving and creativity

Many careers rely on problem-solving and creative thinking skills that are taught in the science classroom. Students should be encouraged to think less about scientific knowledge and more about the scientific way of thinking – ask a question, form a hypothesis, test ideas, make mistakes, learn from them and start over.

These skills, which underpin many a scientific investigation, are just as relevant to our everyday lives. It’s all too easy to be persuaded by posts on social media, in newspapers and on television but students must develop the correct skills to look at the evidence and ask the right questions before making important decisions.

As DNA pioneer Rosalind Franklin said, ‘science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated’. Science is for everyone.

The Royal Society, the UK’s national science academy, aimed at 11-16 year olds, has created the animation – Why Science is for me. You can find more resources and animations on the Royal Society website

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