"Equipped with his five sense, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.

-Edwin Hubble

While this entire website is a portfolio in processes, here is a more formal portfolio focusing on scientific literacy.

Scientific Literacy

According to the National Science Education Standards (NSES), "scientific literacy is the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity. It also includes specific types of abilities. In the National Science Education Standards, the content standards define scientific literacy.Scientific literacy means that a person can ask, find, or determine answers to questions derived from curiosity about everyday experiences. It means that a person has the ability to describe, explain, and predict natural phenomena. Scientific literacy entails being able to read with understanding articles about science in the popular press and to engage in social conversation about the validity of the conclusions. Scientific literacy implies that a person can identify scientific issues underlying national and local decisions and express positions that are scientifically and technologically informed. A literate citizen should be able to evaluate the quality of scientific information on the basis of its source and the methods used to generate it. Scientific literacy also implies the capacity to pose and evaluate arguments based on evidence and to apply conclusions from such arguments appropriately" (National Research Council, 1996, p. 22).

Student Perceptions of Scientific Literacy

I asked students at the beginning and end of the semester “What does scientific literacy mean to you?”

Characteristic responses from the beginning of the semester:

“Scientific literacy means books or articles that are written by scientists or have scientific information.”

“It means using scientific words.”

“Understanding and being able to read scientific stuff.”

Characteristic responses from the end of the semester:

“Being able to understand how things work and not believe everything people say without evidence.”

“It means being able to work out how someone like a scientist worked out an answer from what they wrote or said.”

“Its like not only knowing something about science, but also like really getting science, you know how to see if people have stuff to back them up”.

These responses illustrate the growth of student understanding. Student responses indicate that students appreciate that science isn’t just something that they read about, and while scientific literacy contains reading and writing as modes of expression; perhaps the most important part is applying personal understanding.

Examples of Scientific Literacy in My Earth Science Classroom

My goal is to have students become scientifically literate. The following are examples of class activities, which encourage students to develop the skills they need to achieve this goal.

Book excerpt with think-pair-share

Dramatizing science concepts

Making and evaluating models

Read Alouds /Discussions

Evaluating earth science concepts in the media


National Research Council (U.S.).1996. National Science Education Standards: observe, interact, change, learn. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.