How To Nurture Scientific Literacy


As science educators, our goal is to prepare our students for the real world by providing them with a foundation of core ideas and practices to make sense of phenomena. We nurture them to become science literate, independent thinkers, and problem solvers. What happens when they encounter an unfamiliar situation? Maybe even something controversial?

Here are a few steps you and your students can take to recognize the difference between an opinion or a claim built on evidence.

  • Understand the very nature of science.

    To be science or scientifically literate, students need to develop a deeper understanding of what science is, what science is not, as well as what science can and cannot do in contributing to culture and society.

  • Define what it means to be science literate.

    Being science literate does not apply only to the written word. The ability to analyze graphics, text, and media all play a critical role in becoming more scientifically literate.

  • Ask “What is the evidence backing the claim?”

    To be scientifically literate, students must learn how to search for the evidence that makes a claim factual.

  • Know the Science and Engineering Practices.

    The Next Generation Science Standards provide a mechanism to help you develop scientifically literate students through several of the Science and Engineering Practices. Those most directly related to developing science literacy include:

    • Asking questions

    • Analyzing and interpreting data

    • Constructing explanations

    • Engaging in argument from evidence

    • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

To learn detailed strategies to empower your students in upgrading their science literacy, watch the workshop video below:

Note: Fresh Ideas for Teaching blog contributors have been compensated for sharing personal teaching experiences on our blog. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.


About the Author

Glenn Gordon

Science Specialist