[ASC-list] Straw poll on science literacy and Aussies

Liese Coulter change123 at bigpond.com
Fri Sep 26 01:40:33 UTC 2008

About science literacy, lets start at home. My favourite chemistry is food
chem. Maybe real cooking goes out the door when time is short because we
need an awareness of chemistry. We rely on interactions between heat, fats,
moisture and chemical reactions to bake successfully or put together a great
meal without a recipe. Then there is food shopping with some awareness of
nutrition, let alone allowing for the food sensitivities that are becoming
so common. Here understanding scientific terms allows us to decide if we
want our dinner to include trans-fats, hydrogenated or poly-unsaturated oil
with our vegetables. And what about all those free radicals in fruit,
shouldn't someone catch them?

We use physics to look at our energy bills and decide how to make them less.
How do we choose the right insulation? Which glass product works for our
current climate as well as the climate we might expect in the next 20 years.
And how do we judge the benefits of double glazing compared to glass with
heat reflective coatings?

Logical thinking is an important underpinning of scientific knowledge and
there are many systems we apply to prove our answers to daily questions.
Anything that can be audited has to provide answers that can be reproduced
independently. So when we mind our own business we are applying scientific
methods to get bankable answers.

Liese Coulter, M.Sc.
Communicating a climate of change
change123 at bigpond.com
0402 084 661
+61 2 6624 2910
A member of www.sustainnorthernrivers.org - a campaign to involve the whole
community in setting priorities for climate change action in our region.

-----Original Message-----
From: asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au
[mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Michelle Riedlinger
Sent: Friday, 26 September 2008 10:07 AM
To: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Straw poll on science literacy and Aussies

>From Wendy Williams - please reply to wendy.williams at iird.vic.gov.au or on

Dear ASCers

I am pondering two questions about science literacy.

   What skill set does the average Australian need to be scientifically

   Why would the average Australian want to be scientifically literate? How
   might they apply science literacy to real world situations?

What do you think?

I am keen to get a quick straw poll on what ASCers think - opening today
(26 September) , close next Friday (3 October)  .
Send a list of skills or just the one that springs to mind - but keep  it
relevant to Australia. References to papers etc would also be useful.
I will send the end result out to the ASC mailing list.

There are many science literacy definitions. The ABS uses this one and it
might be a useful place to start:

   Science literacy is an individual's capacity to use scientific
   knowledge, to identify questions and to draw evidence-based conclusions
   in order to understand and help make decisions about the natural world
   and the changes made to it through human activity.
                                                      Australian Bureau of
   Statistics, 1301.0 - Year Book Australia

Thanks for your input.

Wendy Williams
Manager, Science and Community
Innovation and Technology Division
Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development Level 7, 121
Exhibition Street Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: 03 9655 1092  (note new phone number)
Mob: 0434 890 291

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