Success at Learning Science

Science is a systematic organization of knowledge about the universe. Our method of science is built upon testing predictions and explanations of phenomena. The organization of this knowledge comes with a large vocabulary. To succeed at learning science, we first need to master the language behind it. What we hear in class must be reinforced by reading the text and associated assignments. Mastering a language comes from practice and reinforcement. We can’t wait until the day before the exam to learn the language since the assessments in science are often about concepts. Those who believe that science is about the memorization of facts will not succeed at learning science.

The material presented on Openlab is meant to provide real examples and multimedia for a better understanding of the concepts at hand. But to really excel, the underlying language or lexicon must be mastered. Take an active role in learning by reading ahead of classes. Utilize the concepts from lecture and reinforce them in practice in the lab component of the class. If the ideas are difficult to understand in my words or the book’s, look to other sources for examples. You will find that early entries in Openlab will contain multiple links to other sources. Learn to identify what you don’t understand and seek out ways to learn on your own.

Why learn science?

Science and Biology is all around us. Laboratory science is a general education requirement. We learn science even if we have no interest in it because it is the basis for all that is around us. Most importantly, science changes the way we think. It challenges us to become more analytical and understand mechanisms.

In a New York Times exercise, Neil deGrasse Tyson provided an eloquent response to what he would do differently as President of the country that actually explains why we learn science.

When you’re scientifically literate, the world looks different. Science provides a particular way of questioning what you see and hear. When empowered by this state of mind, objective realities matter. These are the truths on which good governance should be based and which exist outside of particular belief systems.

Our government doesn’t work — not because we have dysfunctional politicians, but because we have dysfunctional voters. As a scientist and educator, my goal, wouldn’t be to lead a dysfunctional electorate, but to bring an objective reality to the electorate so it could choose the right leaders in the first place.

In short, we learn science to become conscientious members of society.

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