Why Science?

  • Posted November 13, 2015
  • By Leah Shafer

Why Science?

The push for STEM initiatives — coding workshops for elementary school children, or extended-day science experiments for middle school students — reigns at the forefront of the education conversation today. But anyone in the classroom knows that science can be a tough subject to teach, with educators at times overwhelmed with the amount of material to cover, and students simultaneously discouraged with the amount to master.

As STEM enthusiasm percolates, the teaching of science — its importance, its challenges — isn’t always part of the conversation. Usable Knowledge spoke with two Harvard faculty members, one an experienced high school teacher and the other a philosopher of science, whose thoughts may help to reframe and revitalize the mission of science education. Both argue that science should be much more than the rote memorization of theories, formulas, and vocabulary. It should be an education in problem solving and collaboration.

Science as Skill Building

HGSE Lecturer Victor Pereira , who taught high school science for more than a decade before becoming the master teacher in residence (science) in the new Harvard Teacher Fellows Program , knows the challenges firsthand. Classes can vary hugely in terms of students’ prior knowledge, experiences, and interest in the subject, he says. By the time they reach high school, many students are wary of science, thinking the material is boring and useless, or that they themselves are incapable of learning it. And building an understanding of science depends on acquiring a new and complicated vocabulary, which can be odious to teach and to learn. 

To confront these obstacles, educators should help their students approach science as more than an academic subject, Pereira says. “The nature of science itself is: make observations of the natural world, try and identify patterns, ask questions, find answers, ask more questions,” he explains. “It’s solving. It’s a way of thinking.” He argues that educators should portray science as acquiring skills, rather than memorizing facts. If the classroom focuses on the scientific process of discovery, more students will be engaged in the subject matter.

Collaborative Search for Truth

Teaching science should be much more than the rote memorization of theories, formulas, and vocabulary. It should be an education in problem solving and collaboration.  - Usable Knowledge, HGSE

To uncover new knowledge and advance their fields, scientists have to be trustworthy themselves. After all, they want their findings to contribute to the discovery of truth — an underlying goal of any scientific inquiry. What’s more, scientists know that the public depends on them to publish accurate research that will lead to necessary advances in health and technology. To meet these expectations, findings must be honestly and meticulously recorded. Because this trustworthiness is a moral attribute, Elgin maintains, scientific inquiry is a moral activity.

But how does this connect to science education?

Elgin explains that the process of learning science reinforces these attributes. Chemistry majors cannot become chemists — and high schoolers cannot pass their chemistry labs — if, as students, they do not work together, double–check their assignments, and remain honest in their reports.

“Science does not happen on an island or in isolation,” Pereira says. It’s the science teacher’s responsibility to make sure that students understand the importance of collaborating, along with staying organized and paying attention to detail.

Fostering Engaged Learners

These interrelated characteristics of science education — the process of discovery and the collaboration on trustworthy results — are not mutually exclusive. Pereira believes that science teachers should encourage their students to look at scientific advancements through an ethical lens, looking for patterns and asking questions about scientific developments. Science teachers should help students think critically about current technologies made possible by science, and reflect on whether future technologies will be morally acceptable.

The payoff of stepping back to consider the purpose of science education? Increased student engagement, Pereira says. Like all of us, students want to learn what’s important. “The science teacher has to make sure that the class is relevant to what’s happening in students’ lives, and that they know how they can apply it,” he says.

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Under the umbrella of the IAP, more than 140 national, regional and global member academies work together to support the vital role of science in seeking evidence-based solutions to the world’s most challenging problems.

IAP empowers academies and regional academy networks to provide independent, authoritative advice on global, regional and national issues.

IAP communicates the importance of science, engineering and medicine.

IAP engages with its member academies in a number of ways to carry out projects and programmes.

Read the latest news from the IAP and its international network.

science in education essay

Science education: purpose, methods, ideas and teaching resources

What is the purpose of science education, what is the best method of teaching science, what is inquiry-based science education, what is an example of inquiry-based learning, free online resources for science teachers, science education ideas.

To prosper in this modern age of innovation requires the capacity to grasp the essentials of diverse problems, to recognise meaningful patterns, to retrieve and apply relevant knowledge.

Science education has the potential for helping the development of the required abilities and understanding by focusing on developing powerful ideas of science and ideas about the nature of scientific activity and its applications .

Scientific literacy refers to an individual’s scientific knowledge and its use . It allows an understanding of the scientific process and makes it possible to apply evidence-based knowledge across a broad range of issues that require individual and collective action (such as responding to COVID-19 and climate change , or understanding AI, machine learning and other new technologies).

Science Education is a key area for the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) , whose Science Education Programme (SEP) is led by a Global Council of experts that defines and implements its annual activities on global and regional scales.

girls doing science

Science education should enhance learners’ curiosity , wonder and questioning , building on their natural inclination to seek meaning and understanding of the world around. Scientific inquiry should be introduced and encountered by school students as an activity that can be carried out by everyone including themselves.

They should have personal experiences of finding out about and of making connections between new and previous experiences that not only bring excitement and satisfaction but also the realisation that they can add to their knowledge through active inquiry . Both the process and product of scientific activity can evoke a positive emotional response which motivates further learning.

scientific activity for children

Inquiry-Based Science Education (IBSE) adopts an investigative approach to teaching and learning where students are provided with opportunities to investigate a problem, search for possible solutions, make observations, ask questions, test out ideas, and think creatively and use their intuition. In this sense, inquiry-based science involves students doing science where they have opportunities to explore possible solutions, develop explanations for the phenomena under investigation, elaborate on concepts and processes, and evaluate or assess their understandings in the light of available evidence.

This approach to teaching relies on teachers recognizing the importance of presenting problems to students that will challenge their current conceptual understandings so they are forced to reconcile anomalous thinking and construct new understandings.

IAP seeks to reform and develop science education on a global scale, especially in primary and secondary schools, with a pedagogy based on IBSE because it provides opportunities for students to see how well their ideas work in authentic situations rather than in abstract discussions. Students build knowledge through testing ideas, discussing their understanding with teachers and their peers, and through interacting with scientific phenomena.

science class experiment

An example of inquiry-based learning is ' COVID-19! How can I protect myself and others? ' ( free download here ), a new rapid-response guide for youth aged 8–17 developed as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic by the Smithsonian Science Education Center , in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and IAP .

The guide, which is based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) , aims to help young people understand the science and social science of COVID-19 as well as help them take actions to keep themselves, their families and communities safe .

Through a set of seven cohesive student-led tasks , participants engage in the activities to answer questions previously defined by their peers . The questions explore the impact of COVID-19 on the world, how to practice hand and respiratory hygiene and physical distancing, and how to research more information about COVID-19. The final task teaches youth how they can take action on the new scientific knowledge they learn to improve their health and the health of others. Each task is designed to be completed at home.

covid child

Food! Community Research Guide

Food! is a freely available community research guide that uses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework to focus on sustainable actions that are defined and implemented by students ( download it here ).

Mosquito! Community Research Guide

This module effectively promotes excellence within science education while fostering pioneering approaches to empower and unite educators around the world. Mosquito! addresses the problem of diseases transmitted by mosquitoes from an educational point of view ( download it here ). 

Other teaching resources and guides

You can download more teaching resources and guides here .

Inquiry-based science education resources

The IAP publication “ Working with Big Ideas of Science Education ” (available for free here ) includes this list of ideas that all students should have had opportunity to learn by the end of compulsory education:

All matter in the Universe is made of very small particles

Atoms are the building blocks of all matter, living and non-living. The behaviour and arrangement of the atoms explains the properties of different materials. In chemical reactions atoms are rearranged to form new substances. Each atom has a nucleus containing neutrons and protons, surrounded by electrons. The opposite electric charges of protons and electrons attract each other, keeping atoms together and accounting for the formation of some compounds.

Objects can affect other objects at a distance

All objects have an effect on other objects without being in contact with them. In some cases the effect travels out from the source to the receiver in the form of radiation (e.g. visible light). In other cases action at a distance is explained in terms of the existence of a field of influence between objects, such as a magnetic, electric or gravitational field. Gravity is a universal force of attraction between all objects however large or small, keeping the planets in orbit round the Sun and causing terrestrial objects to fall towards the centre of the Earth.

Changing the movement of an object requires a net force to be acting on it

A force acting on an object is not seen directly but is detected by its effect on the object’s motion or shape. If an object is not moving the forces acting on it are equal in size and opposite in direction, balancing each other. Since gravity affects all objects on Earth there is always another force opposing gravity when an object is at rest. Unbalanced forces cause change in movement in the direction of the net force. When opposing forces acting on an object are not in the same line they cause the object to turn or twist. This effect is used in some simple machines.

The total amount of energy in the Universe is always the same but can be transferred from one energy store to another during an event

Many processes or events involve changes and require an energy source to make them happen. Energy can be transferred from one body or group of bodies to another in various ways. In these processes some energy becomes less easy to use. Energy cannot be created or destroyed. Once energy has been released by burning a fossil fuel with oxygen, some of it is no longer available in a form that is as convenient to use.

The composition of the Earth and its atmosphere and the processes occurring within them shape the Earth’s surface and its climate

Radiation from the Sun heats the Earth’s surface and causes convection currents in the air and oceans, creating climates. Below the surface heat from the Earth’s interior causes movement in the molten rock. This in turn leads to movement of the plates which form the Earth’s crust, creating volcanoes and earthquakes. The solid surface is constantly changing through the formation and weathering of rock.

Our solar system is a very small part of one of billions of galaxies in the Universe

Our Sun and eight planets and other smaller objects orbiting it comprise the solar system. Day and night and the seasons are explained by the orientation and rotation of the Earth as it moves round the Sun. The solar system is part of a galaxy of stars, gas and dust, one of many billions in the Universe, enormous distances apart. Many stars appear to have planets.

Organisms are organised on a cellular basis and have a finite life span

All organisms are constituted of one or more cells. Multi-cellular organisms have cells that are differentiated according to their function. All the basic functions of life are the result of what happens inside the cells which make up an organism. Growth is the result of multiple cell divisions.

Organisms require a supply of energy and materials for which they often depend on, or compete with, other organisms

Food provides materials and energy for organisms to carry out the basic functions of life and to grow. Green plants and some bacteria are able to use energy from the Sun to generate complex food molecules. Animals obtain energy by breaking down complex food molecules and are ultimately dependent on green plants as their source of energy. In any ecosystem there is competition among species for the energy resources and materials they need to live and reproduce.

Genetic information is passed down from one generation of organisms to another

Genetic information in a cell is held in the chemical DNA. Genes determine the development and structure of organisms. In asexual reproduction all the genes in the offspring come from one parent. In sexual reproduction half of the genes come from each parent.

The diversity of organisms, living and extinct, is the result of evolution

All life today is directly descended from a universal common ancestor that was a simple one-celled organism. Over countless generations changes resulting from natural diversity within a species lead to the selection of those individuals best suited to survive under certain conditions. Species not able to respond sufficiently to changes in their environment become extinct.

Science is about finding the cause or causes of phenomena in the natural world

Science is a search to explain and understand phenomena in the natural world. There is no single scientific method for doing this; the diversity of natural phenomena requires a diversity of methods and instruments to generate and test scientific explanations. Often an explanation is in terms of the factors that have to be present for an event to take place as shown by evidence from observations and experiments. In other cases supporting evidence is based on correlations revealed by patterns in systematic observation.

Scientific explanations, theories and models are those that best fit the evidence available at a particular time

A scientific theory or model representing relationships between variables of a natural phenomenon must fit the observations available at the time and lead to predictions that can be tested. Any theory or model is provisional and subject to revision in the light of new data even though it may have led to predictions in accord with data in the past.

The knowledge produced by science is used in engineering and technologies to create products to serve human ends

The use of scientific ideas in engineering and technologies has made considerable changes in many aspects of human activity. Advances in technologies enable further scientific activity; in turn this increases understanding of the natural world. In some areas of human activity technology is ahead of scientific ideas, but in others scientific ideas precede technology.

Applications of science often have ethical, social, economic and political implications

The use of scientific knowledge in technologies makes many innovations possible. Whether or not particular applications of science are desirable is a matter that cannot be addressed using scientific knowledge alone. Ethical and moral judgments may be needed, based on such considerations as justice or equity, human safety, and impacts on people and the environment.

Do not miss news and updates on the activities, opportunities and events of The InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), its regional networks, member academies and other partner organisations: subscribe to our quarterly newsletter , and follow us on Twitter , LinkedIn , and Youtube .

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Why We Teach Science (and Why We Should)

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1 The Reasons We Teach Science

  • Published: January 2023
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This chapter describes the primary reasons we have historically taught science in school. These are science education for culture, better thinking, utility, and democratic decision-making. The utility argument has three versions—science education for personal utility (that is, learning science to solve everyday personal problems, like repairing a broken lamp), national security (that is, science for weapons development and defense technology), and economic growth (science for technological and industrial innovation). All of these are typically divided into two categories: science education for technical training (that is, preparing future scientists and technical workers) and science education for general education (that is, science for the citizen.)

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Classroom Q&A

With larry ferlazzo.

In this EdWeek blog, an experiment in knowledge-gathering, Ferlazzo will address readers’ questions on classroom management, ELL instruction, lesson planning, and other issues facing teachers. Send your questions to [email protected]. Read more from this blog.

Four Good Science Teaching Strategies & How to Use Them

science in education essay

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(This is the last post in a two-part series. You can see Part One here .)

The new question-of-the-week is:

What is the single most effective instructional strategy you have used to teach science?

In Part One , Frank Dill, Cheryl Matas, and Fred Chapel shared their science favorites.

Today, John Almarode, Ph.D., Paul Lennihan, and Anthony Nesbit contribute their recommendations.

‘Student Talk’

John Almarode, Ph.D., is an associate professor and executive director of teaching and learning in the College of Education at James Madison University in Virginia. He can be reached out www.johnalmarode.com :

The answer is student talk. Getting my learners to talk through concepts, practices, and understandings had the greatest impact on their science learning. Not laboratories, demonstrations, worksheets, or movies. Fostering and nurturing opportunities for learners to talk about the different types of chemical reactions and the role of a catalyst in those reactions allowed my high school chemistry students to make their thinking visible and get immediate feedback from their peers.

In high school physics, critical conversations allowed my learners to deeply think about the physical principles involved in a problem, the different approaches to solving that problem, and then making meaning of the solution within the context of scientific phenomena. This is not simply a hunch. Year after year, my learners and I documented the greatest gains in their learning as a result of student talk. At James Madison University, this is still a key component of my teaching in the College of Education.

The impact I experience with student talk is consistent with the research on what works best in teaching and learning. John Hattie (2020) found that classroom discussion has an average effect size of 0.82, nearly doubling the rate of learning. There are three elements of student talk that make this instructional strategy so powerful:

  • The science of how we learn. Student talk blends key elements of the science of how we learn. From elaborate encoding, retrieval practice, and feedback, students’ talking about their learning increases the acquisition, consolidation, and transfer of learning.
  • Versatility. Student talk can be embedded in so many different approaches to teaching and learning science. From summarizing to think-pair-share to Jigsaws, we can integrate student talk into any other instructional strategy. Yes, some may identify a Jigsaw as their single most effect instructional strategy. However, student talk is what makes the strategy so effective.
  • Finally, engagement. To effectively and efficiently talk about concepts, practices, and understandings, learners must activate prior knowledge, articulate connections between concepts, and apply their thinking to understand their peers’ thinking. This serve and receive aspect of student talk increases learners’ engagement.

There is one aspect to the effectiveness of student talk that cannot be left unsaid: implementation. As with any instructional strategy, implementation drives the effectiveness. A better way to put this is, student talk has the potential to be the most effective instructional strategy.

How student talk is implemented in my classroom ultimately determines the effectiveness on student learning. Over the years, trial and error has been the theme for my teaching. I am purposeful about the use of student talk, but there are times when the evidence of learning suggests that the implementation needed adjusting (e.g., learners sat in silence, conversations were superficial or off topic, dialogue focused on irrelevant details).

This evidence suggested that additional scaffolding or support was needed for learners to engage in talking, dialoguing, or critical conversations around scientific phenomena. Maybe learners needed additional support in academic vocabulary, the tools needed for student talk. Some learners needed question stems or sentence starters to activate their background knowledge and structure their dialogue. And, quite possibly, additional instruction was needed to build enough background knowledge to engage in critical conversations.

Over the years, I have found that the principle of gradual release (see Fisher & Frey, 2013) builds the capacity and confidence in learners to step out; talk about science concepts, practices, and understandings; and give and receive feedback from their peers. Having clear expectations, teacher modeling, and structures for supporting student talk provides the scaffolding and support early on. Over time, these scaffolds and supports can be removed as learners integrate talk, dialogue, and critical conversations into their science learning.

Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2013). Better learning through structured teaching. A framework for the gradual release of responsibility (2 nd ed.) . Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Visible Learning Meta X . (2020, July). Retrieved from https://www.visiblelearningmetax.com/ .


Paul Lennihan has been a teacher at The Windward School for seven years. He discovered his passion for science at a young age and he enjoys bringing that enthusiasm to his students. An avid scuba diver, Lennihan loves to introduce his students to the wonders of the natural world:

Have you ever had trouble getting motivated?

At The Windward School, all of our students have dyslexia or language-based learning disabilities. Multisensory instruction is critically important for teaching this population. In the science classroom, this approach allows my middle school students to grasp and internalize complex and abstract ideas in science. It involves several different instructional strategies, all of which are effectively applied to a mainstream classroom, but if I had to choose one as the single most effective strategy for teaching science, it would be the use of high-interest motivators.

A high-interest motivator, be it a model, a specimen, teacher demonstration, video, or image, is a great way to introduce or reinforce concepts. This is a critical step in multisensory instruction, and it is one of the most enjoyable aspects of science teaching, as the content is often naturally highly engaging for students! Bringing out a specimen or sample, showcasing a quick reaction, or displaying a new contraption are excellent ways to pique student interest. This can even be done at the doorway before the students enter your classroom, which works especially well for younger students who visit your lab. The purpose is threefold: It activates prior knowledge and initiates conversation of the relevant topic. It hones students’ observation and communication skills. And of course, it gets them pumped for the awesome lesson you’re about to deliver!

For example, let’s say you are teaching 3rd graders about butterflies. Meet them at the door to your lab with a preserved specimen. Have students make observations of the patterns and make inferences of why it is so colorful. Then invite them in to start your lesson!

Teaching about volcanoes? Have a large chunk of pumice on your desk for students to observe at the start of class. There are so many questions to be asked. Why is it so light? How did it form? Why are there holes in it? If you have reluctant students, model your thinking and questioning process. Use it to springboard your lesson on volcanic eruptions.

High-interest motivators need not be physical objects. An interesting picture on the smartboard, a quick video clip outlining a science process, or a provocative question can all be utilized to hook the students.

After this step, your students will have bought into your direct instruction, inquiry-based learning, or laboratory experiments. But don’t just relegate this technique to the science classroom. Think of all the applications it could have in language arts, social studies, and may other content areas. Motivate your students at the start, and they’ll be with you through the end!


‘Inquiry-Based Learning’

Anthony Nesbit began his teaching career in Seville, Spain, teaching English. He has taught Spanish and English to speakers of other languages for more than 20 years. He holds a B.A. in Spanish and an M.A. in TESOL. Currently, he teaches English-learners in grades K-12:

I really had a difficult time narrowing it down to one single effective strategy, so I chose two. Inquiry-based learning and project-based learning are two of the most effective instructional strategies that I have used to teach science to my English-learners.

Inquiry-based learning has given my English-learners the opportunity to participate in science skills and practices such as observing, classifying, predicting, and recording. At the same time, I have seen them use meaningful language in all domains (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) to communicate about science, from nature walks outside around the school to experimenting about how different materials float in water. I have seen that when my students are able to communicate scientific concepts and explain scientific processes using the patterns of discourse and terminology of science, that is when they fully understand these concepts.

I think the experiences that my students have taken away from … growing a vegetable from seed to fruit or answering a question by discovering the results of an experiment are much more meaningful to their understanding of science than reading about these concepts in a textbook or hearing them explained by me.

In addition, I have found that inquiry-based and project-based learning are naturally differentiated, and both of these can be scaffolded very easily. As a teacher, I can provide certain students with models, visuals (such as charts and diagrams), as well as peer support to help with tasks that require more language skills than what they might possess at the time. Many of the inquiry-based and project-based tasks are easily scaffolded just by changing the language domain. For example, a task that is heavily dependent on reading can be changed to one that relies on listening instead without sacrificing the science content or rigor.

One specific inquiry-based learning strategy that I have used is “citizen science” or crowdsourced science to teach scientific concepts to my students. Citizen science is an approach that uses science projects that ordinary, nonprofessional “citizens” can participate in by gathering and analyzing data about real-world actual science-investigation projects that are run by professional scientists.

My students participated in one called, “Tomatosphere.” Scientists are studying the effects of tomato seeds that spent time on the International Space Station. For the project, my students received two sets of tomato seeds. One was the control (regular tomato seeds from Earth) and the other, the variable (seeds that were flown to the ISS). This was a double-blind experiment, in which they planted and grew the two sets of seeds in the exact same conditions (equal amounts of water, sun, soil, etc.), recorded data from each set, and hypothesized which seeds were the “space seeds.” They communicated their data and hypothesis in writing and orally and sent their data to the NASA scientists. At the end, each student received a very nice certificate showing that they had participated and also learned that their work is contributing to actual research about the future of farming onboard the International Space Station.


Thanks to John, Paul, and Anthony for their contributions!

Please feel free to leave a comment with your reactions to the topic or directly to anything that has been said in this post.

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at [email protected] . When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it’s selected or if you’d prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo .

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Essay on Science: Sample for Students in 100,200 Words

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  • Updated on  
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science in education essay

Science, the relentless pursuit of knowledge and understanding, has ignited the flames of human progress for centuries. It’s a beacon guiding us through the uncharted realms of the universe, unlocking secrets that shape our world. In this blog, we embark on an exhilarating journey through the wonders of science. We’ll explore the essence of science and its profound impact on our lives. With this we will also provide you with sample essay on science in 100 and 200 words.

science in education essay

Must Read: Essay On Internet   

What Is Science?

Science is a systematic pursuit of knowledge about the natural world through observation, experimentation, and analysis. It aims to understand the underlying principles governing the universe, from the smallest particles to the vast cosmos. Science plays a crucial role in advancing technology, improving our understanding of life and the environment, and driving innovation for a better future.

Branches Of Science

The major branches of science can be categorized into the following:

  • Physical Science: This includes physics and chemistry, which study the fundamental properties of matter and energy.
  • Biological Science : Also known as life sciences, it encompasses biology, genetics, and ecology, focusing on living organisms and their interactions.
  • Earth Science: Geology, meteorology, and oceanography fall under this category, investigating the Earth’s processes, climate, and natural resources.
  • Astronomy : The study of celestial objects, space, and the universe, including astrophysics and cosmology.
  • Environmental Science : Concentrating on environmental issues, it combines aspects of biology, chemistry, and Earth science to address concerns like climate change and conservation. 
  • Social Sciences : This diverse field covers anthropology, psychology, sociology, and economics, examining human behavior, society, and culture.  
  • Computer Science : Focused on algorithms, data structures, and computing technology, it drives advancements in information technology. 
  • Mathematics : A foundational discipline, it underpins all sciences, providing the language and tools for scientific analysis and modeling.  

Wonders Of Science

Science has numerous applications that profoundly impact our lives and society: Major applications of science are stated below:

  • Medicine: Scientific research leads to the development of vaccines, medicines, and medical technologies, improving healthcare and saving lives.
  • Technology: Science drives technological innovations, from smartphones to space exploration.
  • Energy: Advances in physics and chemistry enable the development of renewable energy sources, reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Agriculture: Biology and genetics improve crop yields, while chemistry produces fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Environmental Conservation : Scientific understanding informs efforts to protect ecosystems and combat climate change.
  • Transportation : Physics and engineering create efficient and sustainable transportation systems.
  • Communication : Physics and computer science underpin global communication networks.
  • Space Exploration : Astronomy and physics facilitate space missions, expanding our understanding of the cosmos.

Must Read: Essay On Scientific Discoveries  

Sample Essay On Science in 100 words

Science, the bedrock of human progress, unveils the mysteries of our universe through empirical investigation and reason. Its profound impact permeates every facet of modern life. In medicine, it saves countless lives with breakthroughs in treatments and vaccines. Technology, a child of science, empowers communication and innovation. Agriculture evolves with scientific methods, ensuring food security. Environmental science guides conservation efforts, preserving our planet. Space exploration fuels dreams of interstellar travel.

Yet, science requires responsibility, as unchecked advancement can harm nature and society. Ethical dilemmas arise, necessitating careful consideration. Science, a double-edged sword, holds the potential for both salvation and destruction, making it imperative to harness its power wisely for the betterment of humanity.

Sample Essay On Science in 250 words

Science, often regarded as humanity’s greatest intellectual endeavor, plays an indispensable role in shaping our world and advancing our civilization.

At its core, science is a methodical pursuit of knowledge about the natural world. Through systematic observation, experimentation, and analysis, it seeks to uncover the underlying principles that govern our universe. This process has yielded profound insights into the workings of the cosmos, from the subatomic realm to the vastness of space.

One of the most remarkable contributions of science is to the field of medicine. Through relentless research and experimentation, scientists have discovered vaccines, antibiotics, and groundbreaking treatments for diseases that once claimed countless lives. 

Furthermore, science has driven technological advancements that have reshaped society. The rapid progress in computing, for instance, has revolutionized communication, industry, and research. From the ubiquitous smartphones in our pockets to the complex algorithms that power our digital lives, science, and technology are inseparable partners in progress.

Environmental conservation is another critical arena where science is a guiding light. Climate change, a global challenge, is addressed through rigorous scientific study and the development of sustainable practices. Science empowers us to understand the impact of human activities on our planet and to make informed decisions to protect it.

In conclusion, science is not just a field of study; it is a driving force behind human progress. As we continue to explore the frontiers of knowledge, science will remain the beacon guiding us toward a brighter future.

Science is a boon due to innovations, medical advancements, and a deeper understanding of nature, improving human lives exponentially.

Galileo Galilei is known as the Father of Science.

Science can’t address questions about personal beliefs, emotions, ethics, or matters of subjective experience beyond empirical observation and measurement.

We hope this blog gave you an idea about how to write and present an essay on science that puts forth your opinions. The skill of writing an essay comes in handy when appearing for standardized language tests. Thinking of taking one soon? Leverage Edu provides the best online test prep for the same via Leverage Live . Register today to know more!

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500+ words essay on science.

Essay on science:  As we look back in our ancient times we see so much development in the world. The world is full of gadgets and machinery . Machinery does everything in our surroundings. How did it get possible? How did we become so modern? It was all possible with the help of science. Science has played a major role in the development of our society. Furthermore, Science has made our lives easier and carefree.

Essay on science

Science in our Daily Lives

As I have mentioned earlier Science has got many changes in our lives. First of all, transportation is easier now. With the help of Science it now easier to travel long distances . Moreover, the time of traveling is also reduced. Various high-speed vehicles are available these days. These vehicles have totally changed. The phase of our society. Science upgraded steam engines to electric engines. In earlier times people were traveling with cycles. But now everybody travels on motorcycles and cars. This saves time and effort. And this is all possible with the help of Science.

Secondly, Science made us reach to the moon. But we never stopped there. It also gave us a glance at Mars. This is one of the greatest achievements. This was only possible with Science. These days Scientists make many satellites . Because of which we are using high-speed Internet. These satellites revolve around the earth every day and night. Even without making us aware of it. Science is the backbone of our society. Science gave us so much in our present time. Due to this, the teacher in our schools teaches Science from an early age.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

Science as a Subject

In class 1 only a student has Science as a subject. This only tells us about the importance of Science. Science taught us about Our Solar System. The Solar System consists of 9 planets and the Sun. Most Noteworthy was that it also tells us about the origin of our planet. Above all, we cannot deny that Science helps us in shaping our future. But not only it tells us about our future, but it also tells us about our past.

When the student reaches class 6, Science gets divided into three more subcategories. These subcategories were Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. First of all, Physics taught us about the machines. Physics is an interesting subject. It is a logical subject.

Furthermore, the second subject was Chemistry . Chemistry is a subject that deals with an element found inside the earth. Even more, it helps in making various products. Products like medicine and cosmetics etc. result in human benefits.

Last but not least, the subject of Biology . Biology is a subject that teaches us about our Human body. It tells us about its various parts. Furthermore, it even teaches the students about cells. Cells are present in human blood. Science is so advanced that it did let us know even that.

Leading Scientists in the field of Science

Finally, many scientists like Thomas Edison , Sir Isaac Newton were born in this world. They have done great Inventions. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. If he did not invent that we would stay in dark. Because of this Thomas Edison’s name marks in history.

Another famous Scientist was Sir Isaac Newton . Sir Isaac Newton told us about Gravity. With the help of this, we were able to discover many other theories.

In India Scientists A..P.J Abdul was there. He contributed much towards our space research and defense forces. He made many advanced missiles. These Scientists did great work and we will always remember them.

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Why philosophy is so important in science education

<p>The Cassini mission was a direct consequence of Einstein’s thought experiments. <em>Photo JPL/NASA</em></p>

The Cassini mission was a direct consequence of Einstein’s thought experiments. Photo JPL/NASA

by Subrena E Smith   + BIO

science in education essay

Each semester, I teach courses on the philosophy of science to undergraduates at the University of New Hampshire. Most of the students take my courses to satisfy general education requirements, and most of them have never taken a philosophy class before.

On the first day of the semester, I try to give them an impression of what the philosophy of science is about. I begin by explaining to them that philosophy addresses issues that can’t be settled by facts alone, and that the philosophy of science is the application of this approach to the domain of science. After this, I explain some concepts that will be central to the course: induction, evidence, and method in scientific enquiry. I tell them that science proceeds by induction, the practices of drawing on past observations to make general claims about what has not yet been observed, but that philosophers see induction as inadequately justified, and therefore problematic for science. I then touch on the difficulty of deciding which evidence fits which hypothesis uniquely, and why getting this right is vital for any scientific research. I let them know that ‘the scientific method’ is not singular and straightforward, and that there are basic disputes about what scientific methodology should look like. Lastly, I stress that although these issues are ‘philosophical’, they nevertheless have real consequences for how science is done.

At this point, I’m often asked questions such as: ‘What are your qualifications?’ ‘Which school did you attend?’ and ‘Are you a scientist?’

Perhaps they ask these questions because, as a female philosopher of Jamaican extraction, I embody an unfamiliar cluster of identities, and they are curious about me. I’m sure that’s partly right, but I think that there’s more to it, because I’ve observed a similar pattern in a philosophy of science course taught by a more stereotypical professor. As a graduate student at Cornell University in New York, I served as a teaching assistant for a course on human nature and evolution. The professor who taught it made a very different physical impression than I do. He was white, male, bearded and in his 60s – the very image of academic authority. But students were skeptical of his views about science, because, as some said, disapprovingly: ‘He isn’t a scientist.’

I think that these responses have to do with concerns about the value of philosophy compared with that of science. It is no wonder that some of my students are doubtful that philosophers have anything useful to say about science. They are aware that prominent scientists have stated publicly that philosophy is irrelevant to science, if not utterly worthless and anachronistic. They know that STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education is accorded vastly greater importance than anything that the humanities have to offer.

Many of the young people who attend my classes think that philosophy is a fuzzy discipline that’s concerned only with matters of opinion, whereas science is in the business of discovering facts, delivering proofs, and disseminating objective truths. Furthermore, many of them believe that scientists can answer philosophical questions, but philosophers have no business weighing in on scientific ones.

W hy do college students so often treat philosophy as wholly distinct from and subordinate to science? In my experience, four reasons stand out.

One has to do with a lack of historical awareness. College students tend to think that departmental divisions mirror sharp divisions in the world, and so they cannot appreciate that philosophy and science, as well as the purported divide between them, are dynamic human creations. Some of the subjects that are now labelled ‘science’ once fell under different headings. Physics, the most secure of the sciences, was once the purview of ‘natural philosophy’. And music was once at home in the faculty of mathematics. The scope of science has both narrowed and broadened, depending on the time and place and cultural contexts where it was practised.

Another reason has to do with concrete results. Science solves real-world problems. It gives us technology: things that we can touch, see and use. It gives us vaccines, GMO crops, and painkillers. Philosophy doesn’t seem, to the students, to have any tangibles to show. But, to the contrary, philosophical tangibles are many: Albert Einstein’s philosophical thought experiments made Cassini possible. Aristotle’s logic is the basis for computer science, which gave us laptops and smartphones. And philosophers’ work on the mind-body problem set the stage for the emergence of neuropsychology and therefore brain-imagining technology. Philosophy has always been quietly at work in the background of science.

A third reason has to do with concerns about truth, objectivity and bias. Science, students insist, is purely objective, and anyone who challenges that view must be misguided. A person is not deemed to be objective if she approaches her research with a set of background assumptions. Instead, she’s ‘ideological’. But all of us are ‘biased’ and our biases fuel the creative work of science. This issue can be difficult to address, because a naive conception of objectivity is so ingrained in the popular image of what science is. To approach it, I invite students to look at something nearby without any presuppositions . I then ask them to tell me what they see. They pause… and then recognise that they can’t interpret their experiences without drawing on prior ideas. Once they notice this, the idea that it can be appropriate to ask questions about objectivity in science ceases to be so strange.

The fourth source of students’ discomfort comes from what they take science education to be. One gets the impression that they think of science as mainly itemising the things that exist – ‘the facts’ – and of science education as teaching them what these facts are. I don’t conform to these expectations. But as a philosopher, I am mainly concerned with how these facts get selected and interpreted, why some are regarded as more significant than others, the ways in which facts are infused with presuppositions, and so on.

S tudents often respond to these concerns by stating impatiently that facts are facts . But to say that a thing is identical to itself is not to say anything interesting about it. What students mean to say by ‘facts are facts’ is that once we have ‘the facts’ there is no room for interpretation or disagreement.

Why do they think this way? It’s not because this is the way that science is practised but rather, because this is how science is normally taught. There are a daunting number of facts and procedures that students must master if they are to become scientifically literate, and they have only a limited amount of time in which to learn them. Scientists must design their courses to keep up with rapidly expanding empirical knowledge, and they do not have the leisure of devoting hours of class-time to questions that they probably are not trained to address. The unintended consequence is that students often come away from their classes without being aware that philosophical questions are relevant to scientific theory and practice.

But things don’t have to be this way. If the right educational platform is laid, philosophers like me will not have to work against the wind to convince our students that we have something important to say about science. For this we need assistance from our scientist colleagues, whom students see as the only legitimate purveyors of scientific knowledge. I propose an explicit division of labour. Our scientist colleagues should continue to teach the fundamentals of science, but they can help by making clear to their students that science brims with important conceptual, interpretative, methodological and ethical issues that philosophers are uniquely situated to address, and that far from being irrelevant to science, philosophical matters lie at its heart.

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Science Education in the Light of COVID-19

Michael j. reiss.

UCL Institute of Education, University College London, London, UK

In this position paper, I examine how the history, philosophy and sociology of science (HPS) can contribute to science education in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic. I discuss shortcomings in the ways that history is often used in school science, and examine how knowledge of previous pandemics might help in teaching about COVID-19. I look at the potential of issues to do with measurement in the context of COVID-19 (e.g. measurement of mortality figures) to introduce school students to issues about philosophy of science, and I show how COVID-19 has the affordance to broaden and deepen the moral philosophy that students typically meet in biology lessons. COVID-19 also provides opportunities to introduce students to sociological ways of thinking, examining data and questioning human practices. It can also enable students to see how science, economics and politics inter-relate. In the final part of the paper, I suggest that there are strong arguments in favour of an interdisciplinary approach in tackling zoonoses like COVID-19 and that there is much to be said for such interdisciplinarity in school science lessons when teaching about socio-scientific issues and issues intended to raise scientific literacy.

I am primarily a biology educator, and when considering the adequacy of school science education in a time of COVID-19, it is tempting to wring my hands and complain that when I started my school teaching career in the 1980s, we did large amounts of teaching about disease. We taught at secondary level about a whole range of human infectious diseases, with detailed life cycles showing the roles of intermediate hosts and the importance of animal-human transmission; we taught about how infectious diseases could be tackled by prevention (e.g. nets for malaria) as well as treatment and cure. We taught about the role of nutrition and general good health in reducing the likelihood of developing certain diseases and enhancing the body’s ability to respond appropriately if a person did become infected. We taught about the immune system and what happens when it fails to recognise a new pathogen or when it over-reacts. We taught about immunisation and how different approaches to it were needed for different infectious organisms. And I was at the very beginning of my teaching career when HIV/AIDS made an appearance and educators responded quite rapidly with materials and pedagogies to be used in schools (e.g. Harvey and Reiss 1987 ).

But there is not much use in grumbling about historical changes in educational practices, and school science education some 35 years ago did not inhabit a Golden Age. What I want to do here is to respond to Sibel Erduran’s call, as editor of Science & Education , for ‘Position papers about how HPS can contribute to science education in the era of the Covid-19 pandemic’ (Erduran 2020 : p. 234). The paper will also have resonance to the current STEM education special issue of Science & Education. Some of the examples in the paper will illustrate that science is situated not only within history, philosophy and sociology but also it often has implicit links to mathematics, technology and engineering.

My focus is on school science education, recognising that science education takes place in a myriad of other places from those that can respond very rapidly to changing events (the news cycle on the internet, radio and TV) to those that respond more slowly (permanent exhibits in museums). My aim here is not to look at the specifics of how biology education might respond to COVID-19 but rather to examine what history, philosophy and sociology of science might contribute and the implications of this for school science. To structure my argument, I will begin by looking at these three disciplines one by one, though it will soon be evident how much they intertwine, and towards the end of this article, I will argue for the benefits of a more interdisciplinary approach to school science education.

History of Science

In a project that is currently delayed in its pilot stage as a result of COVID-19, Catherine McCrory ( forthcoming ) 1 writes about the place of history in science teaching. She points out that history too often serves in science teaching as ‘decoration’ and cites the historian of science, Hasok Chang, who, in his 2015 Wilkins-Bernal-Medawar lecture, wrote of accounts of history in science textbooks or popular media:

They tend to be ‘human interest’ stories, appearing as mere garnishes to presentations of scientific content – stories of heroic scientists who overcame adversity, tragic scientists hampered by human limitations and circumstances, fortunate scientists who made great discoveries by exploiting chance happenings, strange scientists who engaged in bizarre experiments or devised fantastical theories, and so on. (Chang 2017 : p. 92)

Now, I could erect a defence of garnishes—the surface application of detail so as to delight that quintessentially distinguishes postmodernism from modernism in architecture—but instead I will follow Chang who goes on to ask whether the study of the past of science can help us improve present scientific knowledge—a key question asked in the history, philosophy and sociology of science (HPS) and addressed enthusiastically, as Chang notes, by Harvard’s Project Physics (1962–1972) and successive school curriculum initiatives. In answering his question, Chang argues that knowledge of the history of science can result in a better understanding of the scientific knowledge that is accepted at present. In addition, it can give us a better understanding of the methods that scientists use, to which I will return in the section on the philosophy of science.

Chang’s argument from the history of science is one that has had support within the science education community. Allchin, having undertaken an analysis of Mendel and genetics, Kettlewell and the peppered moth, Fleming and penicillin, Semmelweis and handwashing, and Harvey and the circulation of blood, critiqued ‘popular histories of science that romanticize scientists, inflate the drama of their discoveries, and cast scientists and the process of science in monumental proportion’ (Allchin 2003 : p. 330). He concluded that ‘we do not need more history in science education. Rather, we need different types of history that convey the nature of science more effectively’ (Allchin 2003 : p. 329). In an illustration of the reality that in science education, we often seem to reinvent rather than build on previous findings and arguments, Milne had earlier critiqued ‘heroic science stories’, pointing out that ‘science stories transmit both knowledge and values’ (Milne 1998 : p. 186).

Chang only mentions ‘motivation’ once in his article—and then rather negatively in his final paragraph where he writes ‘I noted that history is often used in order to excite curiosity and give inspiration for science, and that this motivation often encourages distortions and oversimplifications of history’ (Chang 2017 : p. 104). However, as McCrory ( forthcoming ) points out, student motivation matters. When I used to teach secondary students, I peppered (a form of garnish) my lessons with accounts of the lives and work of the scientists behind the science that the students were learning. There were, no doubt, plenty of occasions when even a school history teacher, let alone an academic historian of science, might have cringed on hearing me, but the function of such teaching was not so much for me to teach my students about the history of science, it was to engage them, to motivate them. Only occasionally—the role of Mendel, Darwin and Wallace in the theory of evolution is a notable example—were the historical stories key to the science.

When we focus on COVID-19, it seems clear that history has lessons that can help students both the better to understand the emerging science and to appreciate how science is undertaken. Some of the aims of this teaching will depend on the circumstances under which the teaching takes place. I am writing this in early May 2020 where the widespread presumption in many countries is that we are over the worst of the pandemic and what is needed now is a roadmap to restoring countries to normality, so that people can get back to work and to normal social interactions. Much school teaching, in so far as it is taking place, is occurring on-line or via other modes of distance learning. The reality is that for a biology teacher, this absence of face-to-face contact makes it more difficult to discern and take account of how students are feeling—it may, be, for example, that some students are scared, others grieving, others bored.

The most obvious way that a biology educator might see the role of history of science in a time of COVID-19 is by considering past pandemics. Few students will know that the infectious disease that has killed the most humans over the last two centuries (records before that time are poor in quality) is tuberculosis (TB), caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Paulson 2013 ). To this day, over a million people a year die from it (1.5 million in 2018—the latest year for which good-quality data have been published) (World Health Organization 2020a ). Remarkably, about a quarter of all people around the globe have latent TB—but they do not develop symptoms unless their immune system become severely compromised, for instance through HIV infection or because of malnourishment resulting from something like homelessness.

TB is spread primarily by the inhalation of tiny water droplets with the bacteria that are released when someone who has pulmonary or laryngeal tuberculosis coughs, sneezes, laughs, shouts, etc. This transmission route is also one that COVID-19 has. However, unlike COVID-19, TB is not spread via contact with infected surfaces—touching does not spread TB unless the bacterium is breathed in. A closely related disease, bovine TB, is caused by Mycobacterium bovis and spread from cattle to other mammals, including humans. As with most topics in science, the history of TB is fascinating, and a host of factors—pasteurisation of cow’s milk, improved living standards and general health, the development and increasing use after the Second World War of the Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine—has led to it being less of a problem in wealthy countries (Lienhardt et al. 2012 ). The involvement of cattle in the spread of TB has similarities with the importance of animal-human transmission for COVID-19, and there is on-going controversy as to the relevance of badgers in bovine TB (TB in cattle) and about how bovine TB might best be tackled (McCulloch and Reiss 2017 ).

Personally, I would garnish the tuberculosis story with a sprinkling of the terrifying roll call of those who have died from TB: just from the world of literature, there are Anne and Emily Brontë, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Anton Chekhov, Franz Kafka, John Keats and George Orwell, who survived long enough to be treated in 1948 with the antibiotic streptomycin (discovered in 1943), before dying in 1950.

The pandemic that is most often mentioned in the context of COVID-19 is the 1918–1919 influenza pandemic (see also the 1976–1977 swine flu epidemic in the USA (Neustadt and Fineberg 1978 )). It has been estimated that about 500 million people became infected with the influenza virus (one-third of the then world’s population) and about 50 million people died (a mortality rate of about 10%). Like COVID-19, the disease was another example of a zoonosis (a disease transmitted to humans from non-human animals), being caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin (Jordan et al. 2019 ), but, unlike COVID-19, mortality seems to have been highest in people younger than 5 years old, 20–40 years old and 65 years and older (Fig.  1 ).

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Camp Funston, at Fort Riley, Kansas, during the 1918 influenza pandemic. Taken from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bc/Camp_Funston%2C_at_Fort_Riley%2C_Kansas%2C_during_the_1918_Spanish_flu_pandemic.jpg

It is not known where the 1918–1919 influenza pandemic originated—though it was probably in the USA, Europe or China (Taubenberger 2006 ). The disease is often referred to as ‘Spanish flu’. The reason for this is not that it originated there but that Spain was one of the few European countries to be neutral in the First World War. Wartime censors in other countries suppressed the news of the influenza, fearing its adverse effect on morale. It is often the case that countries name diseases after other countries, in an attempt to deflect blame from those in power and to stigmatise foreigners:

Syphilis had a variety of names, usually people naming it after an enemy or a country they thought responsible for it. The French called it the ‘Neapolitan disease’, the ‘disease of Naples’ or the ‘Spanish disease’, and later grande verole or grosse verole , the ‘great pox’, the English and Italians called it the ‘French disease’, the ‘Gallic disease’, the ‘ morbus Gallicus ’, or the ‘French pox’, the Germans called it the ‘French evil’, the Scottish called it the ‘ grandgore ’, the Russians called it the ‘Polish disease’, the Polish and the Persians called it the ‘Turkish disease’, the Turkish called it the ‘Christian disease’, the Tahitians called it the ‘British disease’, in India it was called the ‘Portuguese disease’, in Japan it was called the ‘Chinese pox’, and there are some references to it being called the ‘Persian fire’. (Frith 2012 : p. 50)

There are interesting parallels with COVID-19, which Donald Trump, of course, has more than once referred to as ‘the Chinese virus’. Less well known is the story behind the World Health Organization calling the virus ‘the COVID-19 virus’. Viruses are named by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) who have named the causative agent for COVID-19 ‘severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2’ (SARS-CoV-2). However, as the WHO explains:

From a risk communications perspective, using the name SARS can have unintended consequences in terms of creating unnecessary fear for some populations, especially in Asia which was worst affected by the SARS outbreak in 2003. For that reason and others, WHO has begun referring to the virus as “the virus responsible for COVID-19” or “the COVID-19 virus” when communicating with the public. (World Health Organization 2020b )

Finally, there are similarities between current attempts to tackle COVID-19 and historical attempts to tackle the 1918–1919 influenza pandemic (Fig.  2 ). Masks were used, public gatherings banned, schools and businesses closed, good hygiene practices recommended, makeshift hospitals established and desperate (unsuccessful) attempts made to manufacture a vaccine. In the end, it was herd immunity that caused the disease to die out. If it is herd immunity that causes COVID-19 to die out, we will have lost millions of people.

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1918 influenza epidemic poster issued by the Board of Health in Alberta, Canada. Taken from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/61/SpanishFluPosterAlberta.png/946px-SpanishFluPosterAlberta.png

Philosophy of Science

There is much overlap between the history of science and the philosophy of science and there is, of course, an enormous literature on the nature of science (NOS). In my own country, England, we have long favoured a simplified version of Popperian science in our accounts for school students as to how scientific knowledge is built up. As I have written previously:

Popper’s ideas easily give rise to a view of science in which scientific knowledge steadily accumulates over time as new theories are proposed and new data collected to discriminate between conflicting theories. Much school experimentation in science is Popperian in essence: we see a rainbow and hypothesise that white light is split up into light of different colours as it is refracted through a transparent medium (water droplets). We test this by attempting to refract white light through a glass prism, we find the same colours of the rainbow are produced and our hypothesis is confirmed. Until some new evidence causes it to be falsified, we accept it. (Reiss 2007 : 63)

This is not the place to give a 101 account of the philosophy of science. More profitable, I think, is to look at how some of the core issues to do with the philosophy of science might usefully be addressed when teaching at school level about COVID-19. We can start with perhaps the most basic thing students are taught to do when beginning to study science—namely to measure carefully, whether they are determining the length of an object, its mass its temperature or whatever. Let us consider the measurement of mortality that results from COVID-19.

We can start by noting that it is very likely that countries under-report deaths from COVID-19. Some of the reasons for this are overtly political but others are to do with more fundamental issues to do with scientific measurement. For a start, attributing cause of death is often a matter of judgement even if we possess perfect knowledge about the circumstances of a person’s death. Consider someone who, under the influence of alcohol, falls and hits their head on a kerb and so dies. Was their death caused by the kerb, the alcohol, the breakup of their relationship that caused them to drink too much, their parents’ poor marriage, which failed to provide a model for a successful relationship or what? One thinks of Aristotle’s material, formal, efficient and final causes and of Hume’s writing about the inherent difficulties of discerning causes.

For school students, they could think about why it is difficult to determine whether people have died as a result of COVID-19. Reasons, in addition to the more general issues raised in the preceding paragraph, include the fact that many people die without a clear-cut diagnosis of COVID-19, in part due in the large majority of countries to a lack of capacity with testing (a consideration which leads to the underestimation of mortality resulting from COVID-19). Students could also be helped to realise that just because I die and am shown by testing to have COVID-19 does not necessarily mean that I died because of COVID-19 infection—as per the above fact that about a quarter of those across the globe who die would test positive for TB but the vast majority of such individuals do not die because of TS infection (a consideration which leads to the overestimation of mortality as a result of COVID-19).

Then, there are what might be termed the indirect consequences of COVID-19 on mortality. To list just some of these, fewer people go to hospital for treatments because they are afraid of becoming infected with COVID-19 there (leading to an increase in mortality rates); greater anxiety and other mental health issues with outcomes that include suicide (leading to an increase in mortality rates); an increase in domestic violence (leading to an increase in mortality rates); lower levels of exercise and increased food consumption (possibly leading to an increase in mortality rates); lower levels of traffic (leading to a decrease in mortality rates); lower levels of air pollution (leading to a decrease in mortality rates); and so on. The point of this litany is not for students to learn it off by heart but to think about the indirect effects that COVID-19 might have on mortality.

In schools, students are all too often given the impression that measurement is a trivial issue—something that with a bit of an effort and some care that they should be able to sort out straightforwardly. Measurement relies on mathematics knowledge, and it can be considered a cross-cutting theme in STEM related problems. At best, they are taught something about random and systematic errors and anomalous results. In reality, careful measurement lies at the heart of science and raises a number of philosophical issues (Tal 2017 ). For a lovely account of what the boiling point of water is, as determined by measurements of it (spoiler alert—water only boils at its official boiling point under very distinctive circumstances), see Chang ( 2008 )—and the issue is often as much to do with what to measure as to how to measure it.

With regard to what to measure, while mortality is what makes headlines, healthcare decisions are rarely made on mortality alone. Students might be introduced to at least two complicating factors. The first is that it may not be that health systems attempt to minimise (or should attempt to minimise) mortality but to maximise what are called QALYs (quality-adjusted life years). The second complicating factor, to which I return below, is to do with the economics of health care rationing.

QALYs are an attempt to deal with the obvious truth that most people do not so much want to live longer per se as to have more years of good health. QALY calculations therefore attempt to combine the additional years of life that are expected to be gained from a successful intervention with a measure of the effects for patients on the quality of their lives. Everyone accepts that actually measuring QALYs is an inexact science but it is generally thought to be better than not trying to. One QALY equals 1 year in perfect health, so that an additional year of life has a maximum QALY of 1 and a minimum of 0 (or even, some maintain, less than 0 if the quality of one’s life is such that one would be better off dead). Measuring the additional years of life from a successful medical intervention can be estimated with some confidence; measuring the quality of life after a medical intervention is much more difficult, and there are various methods used of which the most common is the entirely subjective one of asking people to rate their quality of life on a scale from 0 (I would be as well off if I were dead) to 100 (perfect).

The relevance of QALYs to COVID-19 is that while we are still in the early phase of the pandemic, it is clear that many of those who recover from COVID-19 will have a reduced level of quality of life—for example, because they will require life-long renal dialysis or a kidney transplant. State medical systems have, when resources are finite, to make decisions about how much to treat people and QALYs are used to help facilitate such decisions. If something like QALYs are not used, health systems can end up spending all their resources on keeping a relatively small number of people alive when many others could be treated or enabled never to become ill in the first place (e.g. through public health initiatives) for the same amount of financial investment and medical time (also often a limiting resource).

In the above, I have focused on the measurement of mortality and issues to do with the quality of life, but there are other important issues to do with COVID-19 and measurement. In particular, the value of the basic reproduction number (R 0 ), i.e. the average number of new infections generated by an infectious person in a totally naïve population, and of the subsequent reproduction rate (R), i.e. the average number of new infections generated by an infectious person at any time, are both difficult to determine. Estimates of R 0 for COVID-19 currently vary by a factor of more than two (Liu et al. 2020 ), and there is inevitably a time lag between the human behaviours that affect R and subsequent measurements of it. Students can also be helped to appreciate that R is affected by a very large number of variables to do with both the person who is already infected and those whom they may go on to affect (including, age, gender, population density, presence of underlying health conditions and a number of variables to do with behaviour, such as extent of social interactions and personal hygiene). Students might also be helped to appreciate that TB, while it has a similar value of R to that of COVID-19 (a recent review gave values that range from 0.24 to 4.3 (Ma et al. 2018 )), is far less contagious, in the sense that it is substantially less likely that a person with TB will spread it to someone else per unit of time that they spend in each other’s company. TB, unlike COVID-19, influenza or colds, usually only spreads between family members who live in the same house.

I have concentrated in this section on issues to do with measurement. When measurement is considered in undergraduate physical science courses, the emphasis is on issues to do with quantum theory. As is well known, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle states that there is a fundamental limit to the precision with which certain pairs of physical constants can be measured (iconically, momentum and position). At the appropriate stage of their education, students can be helped to enquire whether this is a constraint that results from the effect of observers or whether it is a constraint that is inherent within all wave-like systems. However, there are, as indicated above, many other issues to do with measurement that can help students appreciate how the rigorous thinking and conceptual clarity that (should) characterise philosophical thinking, including thinking about the philosophy of science, can help illuminate issues of central relevance to COVID-19.

Some of these issues are considered in school biology courses, for example, statistical issues to do with sampling (resulting from limitations on access to data), but others are less often considered with any degree of explicitness, for example, the importance of biological objects being historical products (Montévil 2019 ). Of course, measurement is only one issue with which the philosophy of science concerns itself. But I hope that I have shown that there is plenty here to profitably occupy school students when learning about COVID-19 issues.

Moral Philosophy

Moral philosophy can obviously be considered as sitting within philosophy but I have given the discipline its own section here, in part because even at school level, ethics is often given a certain prominence in biology.

As is the case with debates about the place of history in science education, there is a long-running debate about the place of ethics in science education (Reiss 1999 ). Objections to the inclusion of ethics in science education include the claim that ethics simply does not fit there on epistemological grounds (any more, for example, than aesthetics does) and that science teachers lack the expertise to teach it. Those in favour of including ethics in school science can point to the fact that mathematics is epistemologically distinct from science but we include plenty of mathematics in science and that many students find that the inclusion of ethics in science makes the subject more engaging and ‘relevant’ for them. There is also the argument that including ethics can lead to a better understanding of science (understood narrowly); for example, discussing ethical objections to in vitro fertilisation or cloning can lead to a deeper examination of questions about when human life begins and what we understand by individuality.

There are a number of ethical issues raised by COVID-19 that would make for good discussion in the classroom. I will mention two here: health care rationing and vaccination.

Health care rationing is not often discussed in school biology lessons, where the focus is more often on the acceptability of new technologies, such as genetic engineering or cloning, environmental issues, such as pollution and the loss of biodiversity as a result of human activities, and (sometimes) beginning and end of life issues. The reality, though, is that health care rationing nearly always exists, even if it is often kept hidden and even though, in countries with public health care systems, people like to presume that it does not exist. With COVID-19, the initial threat in the spring of 2020 that health care systems around the world would be overwhelmed led to a more explicit acknowledgement of health care rationing as there were near panics about the availability of ventilators and other items of equipment, not to mention the availability of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals. The ethical issues that flow from such shortages are principally to do with who gets privileged access. For example, should someone in the prime of life with young children be favoured over someone in poorer health in their 80s with no dependent relatives?

At the time of writing, we do not know whether it will be possible to develop one or more vaccines against COVID-19. Unlike health care rationing, vaccination is often covered in school biology, though the coverage can focus simply on the science with vaccination being presented as an unproblematic success story (Reiss 2018 ). After an account of Edward Jenner’s classic 1796 experiment on 8-year-old Edward Phipps (itself more than a little ethically problematic by today’s standards), graphs are presented showing dramatic decreases, thanks to vaccination, in the incidence of such diseases as smallpox and polio.

However, objections to vaccination began almost as soon as the practice was introduced. Nineteenth century objections included arguments that they did not work and were unsafe (Ernst and Jacobs 2012 ) or that their compulsory introduction (e.g. the 1853 Compulsory Vaccination Act in the UK) violated personal liberties (Durbach 2000 ). To this day, vaccination is rejected by some for much the same reasons. Such individuals are often castigated by health care experts and portrayed as selfish. I have nothing against passionate teaching and learning but in a school setting, there is the opportunity to examine more carefully the arguments for and against vaccination in a way that can be difficult in students’ homes. Such ethical examination goes hand-in-hand with mainstream science teaching—for example, teaching that if herd immunity is to help prevent the spread of a disease through vaccination, a certain percentage of the population (the percentage varies inversely with R 0 ) needs to have acquired immunity.

Done poorly, ethics teaching can become no more than a list of arguments for and against certain practices. To enhance the quality of students’ arguments, students need to be introduced to some of the main ethical frameworks—most likely consequentialism, duties and rights, and virtue ethics. My own view is that it is easier for science teachers to teach about ethics than it is for specialist ethics teachers to teach about science, which is another reason for including ethics in the science classroom rather than hoping that the ethical implications of science get covered somewhere else in the school curriculum.

However, if ethics is to be covered in school science, students need to be assessed appropriately, both formatively and summatively (Reiss 2009 ). When one looks at examples of the summative assessment of ethics in school philosophy and religious studies courses, one finds that good candidates are expected to be able to write at some length and to craft a developing argument. Furthermore, banding, rather than the allocation of precise marking points, is often employed in the mark schemes used by the organisations that set the official school examinations in philosophy and religious studies. Notable too is the expectation that candidates taking these examinations should be able to criticise major ethicists and be familiar with the contrasting views of a range of both classical (e.g. Kant, Sartre, Bentham) and contemporary (e.g. Singer) authors. At present, such features are rare to the point of non-existence when ethics is examined at the end of school science courses.

Within HPS, the contribution of sociology is probably best known through the work of T. S. Kuhn and the subsequent science wars. More generally, sociology is the discipline principally concerned with how people behave in society. The specific field of medical sociology traditionally analysed such things as patient-doctor relationships but has grown to encompass any of the cultural (as opposed to biological) effects of medical practice. In relation to COVID-19, medical sociologists (indeed, sociologists more generally) are therefore interested in such things as who gains access and who does not gain access to technologies for prevention and treatment. Classically, much sociology looked at the importance of social class, gender and ethnicity on matters like living conditions, work patterns and wages. It is already clear that all three of social class, gender and ethnicity, along with disability, are of great relevance for the likelihood of someone becoming infected by COVID-19 and dying as a result. There is therefore a normative element to medical sociology, which therefore overlaps in its interests with moral philosophy.

There is now the growing emergence of a body of specialised sociological analysis in relation to COVID-19. Sadati et al. ( 2020 ) point out that one of the most important consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak has been the worldwide creation of social anxiety. They link this to Ulrich Beck’s pioneering book Risk Society (Beck 1992 ), in which Beck (as did other sociologists such as Giddens) argued that while societies have always been exposed to risks, modern industrialised societies are particularly exposed to risks that are the result of modernisation itself. Indeed, it is clear that contemporary practices in food production and travel have at the very least fuelled the COVID-19 pandemic. Brown ( 2020 ) also hones in on issues to do with risk, pointing out that they cannot be equated with probabilities, and draws on Mary Douglas’ classic work on everyday rituals and their purpose and her assertion that ‘it is essential for each culture to believe that the other cultures cherish wrong-headed concepts of justice’ (Douglas 2007 : p. 9).

It is not, of course, my contention that school students should be introduced in science lessons to the work of sociologists like Beck and Douglas. Rather, students can be introduced, in the context of COVID-19, to sociological ways of thinking and ways of examining data and questioning human practices. Such activities can help students the better to appreciate, for example, the enormous differences between countries in terms of how they have reacted to the pandemic—denial, lockdown, social distancing, use of masks, use of technologies for contact tracing, faith in a vaccine or treatments, etc.

I have already commented how sociology overlaps with moral philosophy. It also overlaps with disciplines like politics. In my final section, before some conclusions, I examine the contributions of disciplines other than history, philosophy and sociology to science education, as exemplified by COVID-19, though I recognise that some sociologists would include much of economics and politics within their own discipline.

Other Disciplines

In schools, students are often given the impression that scientific knowledge comes first (in terms of temporality) and is then applied to technological problems. The economics behind science, the politics of the societies within which science is funded and enacted and issues to do with psychology are rarely considered. Yet, these disciplines have great influence on the science that is undertaken and then used in society. Ziman ( 2000 ) describes ‘the Legend’ as being that account of science that is entirely realist and keeps it separate from such influences.

Few school students are likely to need much persuading of the relevance of economics and politics to COVID-19. In terms of politics, COVID-19 provides an opportunity for students to consider how democratic and non-democratic governments (including those in monarchies, theocracies and totalitarian regimes) can differ in their response to events. The importance of psychology is perhaps not quite as clear—though one could try asking students why COVID-19 has caused far more draconian governmental action than other viruses that are either more dangerous (e.g. Ebola, SARS) or regularly infect huge numbers of people (e.g. the various influenzas) or to diseases such as tuberculosis (mentioned above) that, at the time of writing, kill many more people every year than COVID-19 has to date. Students can also reflect on the diversity of opinions within countries about attempt to contain the virus (Fig.  3 ) and the psychological factors that might be behind these.

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Columbus COVID-19 protests at the Ohio Statehouse, USA, 18 April 2020. Taken from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5e/Columbus_coronavirus_protests_at_the_Ohio_Statehouse%2C_2020-04-18a.jpg/1280px-Columbus_coronavirus_protests_at_the_Ohio_Statehouse%2C_2020-04-18a.jpg

The mention of economics, politics and psychology raises the more general issues of interdisciplinarity. Back in 2013, Melissa Leach and Ian Scoones published an article with the title ‘The social and political lives of zoonotic disease models: Narratives, science and policy’, the abstract of which is worth citing in its entirety:

Zoonotic diseases currently pose both major health threats and complex scientific and policy challenges, to which modelling is increasingly called to respond. In this article we argue that the challenges are best met by combining multiple models and modelling approaches that elucidate the various epidemiological, ecological and social processes at work. These models should not be understood as neutral science informing policy in a linear manner, but as having social and political lives: social, cultural and political norms and values that shape their development and which they carry and project. We develop and illustrate this argument in relation to the cases of H5N1 avian influenza and Ebola, exploring for each the range of modelling approaches deployed and the ways they have been co-constructed with a particular politics of policy. Addressing the complex, uncertain dynamics of zoonotic disease requires such social and political lives to be made explicit in approaches that aim at triangulation rather than integration, and plural and conditional rather than singular forms of policy advice. (Leach and Scoones 2013 : p. 10)

Leach and Scoones provide a powerful argument for the benefit of an interdisciplinary approach in tackling zoonoses like COVID-19.


Science curricula, pedagogies and assessment should not be changed in a knee-jerk reaction whenever some new science-related issue arises. Nevertheless, science curricula, perhaps especially biology ones, have a history of changing appropriately in response to important science-related issues that arise in society. It seems likely that COVID-19 constitutes such an instance.

The question then arises, for those convinced, as I am, of the value of HPS for science education, as to how HPS can usefully play a role. I have tried to sketch out some possibilities above. Of course, not everyone is convinced of the worth of HPS in school science. In such circumstances, and focusing on COVID-19, though the point holds more generally, those of us keen to see HPS playing more of a role in science education might profitably argue that the history of science, the philosophy of science and the sociology of science can all help promote scientific literacy and the public understanding of biology (cf. Reiss et al. 2020 ).

COVID-19 can also be presented as a socio-scientific issue. In a recent article, Hancock et al. ( 2019 ) examine how science teachers collaboratively design SSI-based curricula. They note that SSI curriculum design requires careful consideration of the focal SSI to ensure that it features both social and scientific components. They found that issue selection by teachers was characterised by iterative discussion in the three dimensions of leveraging existing resources, mobilising passions and exploring issue relevance. At present, COVID-19 resources are beginning to be developed and it is certainly a topic that is relevant and likely to mobilise passions.

Compliance with ethical standards

The author declares no conflict of interest.

1 The project is titled BRaSSS (Broadening Secondary School Science) and is funded by Templeton World Charities Foundation as part of their Big Questions in Classrooms programme https://www.templetonworldcharity.org/our-priorities/big-questions-classrooms .

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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A year after affirmative action ban, how students are pitching themselves to colleges

  • Deep Read ( 13 Min. )
  • By Olivia Sanchez, Nirvi Shah, and Meredith Kolodner The Hechinger Report

June 28, 2024

In the year since the U.S. Supreme Court banned the consideration of race in college admissions, students have had to give more thought to how they present themselves in their application essays – to what they will disclose.

Data from the Common Application shows that in this admissions cycle, about 12% of students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups used at least one of 38 identity-related phrases in their essays, a decrease of roughly 1% from the previous year. The data shows that about 20% of American Indian and Alaskan Native applicants used one of these phrases; meanwhile 15% of Asian students, 14% of Black students, 11% of Latinx students, and fewer than 3% of white students did so.

Why We Wrote This

A year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court barred affirmative action in college admissions. Students have since used their application essays as a place to explore identity.

To better understand how students were deciding what to include, The Hechinger Report asked newly accepted students from across the United States to share their application essays and to describe how they thought their writing choices ultimately influenced their admissions outcomes. Among them was Jaleel Gomes Cardoso from Boston, who wrote about being Black. 

“If you’re not going to see what my race is in my application, then I’m definitely putting it in my writing,” he says, “because you have to know that this is the person who I am.”   

In the year since the Supreme Court banned  the consideration of race in college admissions last June, students have had to give more thought to how they present themselves in their application essays .

Previously, they could write about their racial or ethnic identity if they wanted to, but colleges would usually know it either way and could use it as a factor in admissions. Now, it’s entirely up to students to disclose their identity or not.

Data from the Common Application shows that in this admissions cycle about 12% of students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups used at least one of 38 identity-related phrases in their essays, a decrease of roughly 1% from the previous year. The data shows that about 20% of American Indian and Alaskan Native applicants used one of these phrases; meanwhile 15% of Asian students, 14% of Black students, 11% of Latinx students, and fewer than 3% of white students did so.

To better understand how students were making this decision and introducing themselves to colleges, The Hechinger Report asked newly accepted students from across the country to share their college application essays. The Hechinger staff read more than 50 essays and talked to many students about their writing process, who gave them advice, and how they think their choices ultimately influenced their admissions outcomes.

Here are thoughts from a sampling of those students, with excerpts from their essays. 

Jaleel Gomes Cardoso of Boston: A risky decision

As Jaleel Gomes Cardoso sat looking at the essay prompt for Yale University, he wasn’t sure how honest he should be. “Reflect on your membership in a community to which you feel connected,” it read. “Why is this community meaningful to you?” He wanted to write about being part of the Black community – it was the obvious choice – but the Supreme Court’s decision to ban the consideration of a student’s race in admissions gave him pause.

“Ever since the decision about affirmative action, it kind of worried me about talking about race,” says Mr. Cardoso, who grew up in Boston. “That entire topic felt like a risky decision.” 

In the past, he had always felt that taking a risk produced some of his best writing, but he thought that an entire essay about being Black might be going too far. 

“The risk was just so heavy on the topic of race when the Court’s decision was to not take race into account,” he says. “It was as if I was disregarding that decision. It felt very controversial, just to make it so out in the open.” 

science in education essay

In the end, he did write an essay that put his racial identity front and center. He wasn’t accepted to Yale, but he has no regrets about his choice.

“If you’re not going to see what my race is in my application, then I’m definitely putting it in my writing,” says Mr. Cardoso, who will attend Dartmouth College this fall, “because you have to know that this is the person who I am.”                       

 – Meredith Kolodner

Essay excerpt:

I was thrust into a narrative of indifference and insignificance from the moment I entered this world. I was labeled as black, which placed me in the margins of society. It seemed that my destiny had been predetermined; to be part of a minority group constantly oppressed under the weight of a social construct called race. Blackness became my life, an identity I initially battled against. I knew others viewed it as a flaw that tainted their perception of me. As I matured, I realized that being different was not easy, but it was what I loved most about myself.  

Klaryssa Cobian of Los Angeles: A seminomadic mattress life

Klaryssa Cobian is Latina – a first-generation Mexican American – and so was nearly everyone else in the Southeast Los Angeles community where she grew up. Because that world was so homogenous, she really didn’t notice her race until she was a teenager.

Then she earned a scholarship to a prestigious private high school in Pasadena. For the first time, she was meaningfully interacting with people of other races and ethnicities, but she felt the greatest gulf between her and her peers came from her socioeconomic status, not the color of her skin. 

Although Ms. Cobian has generally tried to keep her home life private, she felt that colleges needed to understand the way her family’s severe economic disadvantages had affected her. She wrote about how she’d long been “desperate to feel at home.”

She was 16 years old before she had a mattress of her own. Her essay cataloged all the places she lay her head before that. She wrote about her first bed, a queen-sized mattress shared with her parents and younger sister. She wrote about sleeping in the backseat of her mother’s red Mustang, before they lost the car. She wrote about moving into her grandparents’ home and sharing a mattress on the floor with her sister, in the same room as two uncles. She wrote about the great independence she felt when she “moved out” into the living room and onto the couch.  

“Which mattress I sleep on has defined my life, my independence, my dependence,” Ms. Cobian wrote. 

She’d initially considered writing about the ways she felt she’d had to sacrifice her Latino culture and identity to pursue her education, but said she hesitated after the Supreme Court ruled on the use of affirmative action in admissions. Ultimately, she decided that her experience of poverty was more pertinent. 

science in education essay

“If I’m in a room of people, it’s like, I can talk to other Latinos, and I can talk to other brown people, but that does not mean I’m going to connect with them. Because, I learned, brown people can be rich,” Ms. Cobian says.  She’s headed to the University of California, Berkeley, in the fall.

– Olivia Sanchez

Essay excerpt: 

With the only income, my mom automatically assumed custody of me and my younger sister, Alyssa. With no mattress and no home, the backseat of my mom’s red mustang became my new mattress. Bob Marley blasted from her red convertible as we sang out “could you be loved” every day on our ride back from elementary school. Eventually, we lost the mustang too and would take the bus home from Downtown Los Angeles, still singing “could you be loved” to each other.  

Oluwademilade Egunjobi of Providence, Rhode Island: The perfect introduction

Oluwademilade Egunjobi worked on her college essay from June until November. Not every single day, and not on only one version, but for five months she was writing and editing and asking anyone who would listen for advice.

She considered submitting essays about the value of sex education, or the philosophical theory of solipsism (in which the only thing that is guaranteed to exist is your own mind). 

But most of the advice she got was to write about her identity. So, to introduce herself to colleges, Oluwademilade Egunjobi wrote about her name.

Ms. Egunjobi is the daughter of Nigerian immigrants who, she wrote, chose her first name because it means she’s been crowned by God. In naming her, she said, her parents prioritized pride in their heritage over ease of pronunciation for people outside their culture. 

And although Ms. Egunjobi loves that she will always be connected to her culture, this choice has put her in a lifelong loop of exasperating introductions and questions from non-Nigerians about her name. 

The loop often ends when the person asks if they can call her by her nickname, Demi. “I smile through my irritation and say I prefer it anyways, and then the situation repeats time and time again,” Egunjobi wrote. 

science in education essay

She was nervous when she learned about the Supreme Court’s affirmative action decision, wondering what it might mean for where she would get into college. Her teachers and college advisors from a program called Matriculate told her she didn’t have to write a sob story, but that she should write about her identity, how it affects the way she moves through the world and the resilience it’s taught her. 

She heeded their advice, and it worked out. In the fall, she will enter the University of Pennsylvania to study philosophy, politics, and economics. 

I don’t think I’ve ever had to fight so hard to love something as hard as I’ve fought to love my name. I’m grateful for it because it’ll never allow me to reject my culture and my identity, but I get frustrated by this daily performance. I’ve learned that this performance is an inescapable fate, but the best way to deal with fate is to show up with joy. I am Nigerian, but specifically from the ethnic group, Yoruba. In Yoruba culture, most names are manifestations. Oluwademilade means God has crowned me, and my middle name is Favor, so my parents have manifested that I’ll be favored above others and have good success in life. No matter where I go, people familiar with the language will recognize my name and understand its meaning. I love that I’ll always carry a piece of my culture with me.  

Francisco Garcia of Fort Worth, Texas: Accepted to college and by his community

In the opening paragraph of his college application essay, Francisco Garcia quotes his mother, speaking to him in Spanish, expressing disappointment that her son was failing to live up to her Catholic ideals. It was her reaction to Mr. Garcia revealing his bisexuality. 

Mr. Garcia said those nine Spanish words were “the most intentional thing I did to share my background” with colleges. The rest of his essay delves into how his Catholic upbringing, at least for a time, squelched his ability to be honest with friends about his sexual identity, and how his relationship with the church changed. He said he had striven, however, to avoid coming across as pessimistic or sad, aiming instead to share “what I’ve been through [and] how I’ve become a better person because of it.” 

He worked on his essay throughout July, August, and September, with guidance from college officials he met during campus visits and from an adviser he was paired with by Matriculate, which works with students who are high achievers from low-income families. Be very personal, they told Mr. Garcia, but within limits. 

“I am fortunate to have support from all my friends, who encourage me to explore complexities within myself,” he wrote. “My friends give me what my mother denied me: acceptance.”

He was accepted by Dartmouth, one of the eight schools to which he applied, after graduating from Saginaw High School near Fort Worth, Texas, this spring.

– Nirvi Shah

Essay excerpt:  

By the time I got to high school, I had made new friends who I felt safe around. While I felt I was more authentic with them, I was still unsure whether they would judge me for who I liked. It became increasingly difficult for me to keep hiding this part of myself, so I vented to both my mom and my closest friend, Yoana ... When I confessed that I was bisexual to Yoana, they were shocked, and I almost lost hope. However, after the initial shock, they texted back, “I’m really chill with this. Nothing has changed Francisco:)”. The smiley face, even if it took 2 characters, was enough to bring me to tears. 

Hafsa Sheikh of Pearland, Texas: Family focus above all 

Hafsa Sheikh felt her applications would be incomplete without the important context of her home life: She became a primary financial contributor to her household when she was just 15, because her father, once the family’s sole breadwinner, could not work due to his major depressive disorder. Her work in a pizza parlor on the weekends and as a tutor after school helped pay the bills. 

She found it challenging to open up this way, but felt she needed to tell colleges that, although working two jobs throughout high school made her feel like crying from exhaustion every night, she would do anything for her family. 

science in education essay

“It’s definitely not easy sharing some of the things that you’ve been through with, like really a stranger,” she says, “because you don’t know who’s reading it.”

And especially after the Supreme Court ruled against affirmative action, Ms. Sheikh felt she needed to write about her cultural identity. It’s a core part of who she is, but it’s also a major part of why her father’s mental illness affected her life so profoundly. 

Ms. Sheikh, the daughter of Pakistani immigrants, said her family became isolated because of the negative stigma surrounding mental health in their South Asian culture. She said they became the point of gossip in the community and even among extended family members, and they were excluded from many social gatherings. This was happening as she was watching the typical high school experiences pass her by, she wrote. Because of the long hours she had to work, she had to forgo the opportunity to try out for the girls’ basketball team and debate club, and often couldn’t justify cutting back her hours to spend time with her friends.  

She wrote that reflecting on one of her favorite passages in the Holy Quran gave her hope:

“One of my favorite ayahs, ‘verily, with every hardship comes ease,’ serves as a timeless reminder that adversity is not the end; rather, there is always light on the other side,” Ms. Sheikh wrote.

Her perseverance paid off, with admission to Princeton University.

-- Olivia Sanchez

Besides the financial responsibility on my mother and I, we had to deal with the stigma surrounding mental health in South Asian culture and the importance of upholding traditional gender roles. My family became a point of great gossip within the local Pakistani community and even extended family. Slowly, the invitations to social gatherings diminished, and I bailed on plans with friends because I couldn’t afford to miss even a single hour of earnings.

David Arturo Munoz-Matta of McAllen, Texas: Weighing the risks of being honest

It was Nov. 30 and David Arturo Munoz-Matta had eight college essays due the next day. He had spent the prior weeks slammed with homework while also grieving the loss of his uncle who had just died. He knew the essays were going to require all the mental energy he could muster – not to mention whatever hours were left in the day. But he got home from school to discover he had no electricity. 

“I was like, ‘What am I gonna do?’” says Mr. Munoz-Matta, who graduated from Lamar Academy in McAllen, Texas. “I was panicking for a while, and my mom was like, ‘You know what? I’m just gonna drop you off at Starbucks and then just call me when you finish with all your essays.’ And so I was there at Starbucks from 4 until 12 in the morning.” 

The personal statement he agonized over most was the one he submitted to Georgetown University.  

“I don’t want to be mean or anything, but I feel like a lot of these institutions are very elitist, and that my story might not resonate with the admissions officers,” Mr. Munoz-Matta says. “It was a very big risk, especially when I said I was born in Mexico, when I said I grew up in an abusive environment. I believed at the time that would not be good for universities, that they might feel like, ‘I don’t want this kid, he won’t be a good fit with the student body.’”

He didn’t have an adult to help him with his essay, but another student encouraged him to be honest. It worked. He got into his dream school, Georgetown University, with a full ride. Many of his peers were not as fortunate. 

“I know because of the affirmative action decision, a lot of my friends did not even apply to these universities, like the Ivies, because they felt like they were not going to get in,” he says. “That was a very big sentiment in my school.”                       

– Meredith Kolodner  

While many others in my grade level had lawyers and doctors for parents and came from exemplary middle schools at the top of their classes, I was the opposite. I came into Lamar without middle school recognition, recalling my 8th-grade science teacher’s claim that I would never make it. At Lamar, freshman year was a significant challenge as I constantly struggled, feeling like I had reached my wit’s end. By the middle of Freshman year, I was the only kid left from my middle school, since everyone else had dropped out. Rather than following suit, I kept going. I felt like I had something to prove to myself because I knew I could make it.

Kendall Martin of Austin, Texas: From frustration to love

Kendall Martin wanted to be clear with college admissions officers about one thing: She is a young Black woman, and her race is central to who she is. Ms. Martin was ranked 15th in her graduating class from KIPP Austin Collegiate. She was a key figure on her high school basketball team. She wanted colleges to know she had overcome adversity. But most importantly, Ms. Martin says, she wanted to be sure, when her application was reviewed, “Y’all know who you are accepting.”

science in education essay

It wouldn’t be as simple as checking a box, though, which led Ms. Martin, of Kyle, Texas, to the topic she chose for her college admissions essay, the year after the Supreme Court said race could not be a factor in college admissions. Instead, she looked at the hair framing her face, hair still scarred from being straightened time and again. 

Ms. Martin wrote about the struggles she faced growing up with hair that she says required extensive time to tame so she could simply run her fingers through it. Now headed to Rice University in Houston – her first choice from a half-dozen options – she included a photo of her braids as part of her application. Her essay described her journey from hating her hair to embracing it, from heat damage to learning to braid, from frustration to love, a feeling she now hopes to inspire in her sister.  

“That’s what I wanted to get across: my growing up, my experiences, everything that made me who I am,” she says.

–  Nirvi Shah

I’m still recovering from the heat damage I caused by straightening my hair every day, because I was so determined to prove that I had length. When I was younger, a lot of my self worth was based on how long my hair was, so when kids made fun of my “short hair,” I despised my curls more and more. I begged my mom to let me get a relaxer, but she continued to deny my wish. This would make me so angry, because who was she to tell me what I could and couldn’t do with my hair? But looking back, I’m so glad she never let me. I see now that a relaxer wasn’t the key to making me prettier, and my love for my curls has reached an all-time high. 

This story about  college admission essays  was produced by  The Hechinger Report , a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for Hechinger’s  higher education newsletter . Listen to Hechinger’s  higher education podcast .

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Switch up teaching and assessment to help teachers combat chatbot-cheating, say researchers

by University of South Australia

Switch up teaching and assessment to help teachers combat chatbot-cheating

It's the chatbot technology that can write an essay in a second, but despite its vast capabilities, generative AI is creating headaches for education, particularly when it comes to student integrity and cheating.

Now, new research from the University of South Australia, shows that teachers can combat AI by adopting a transformative approach to teaching and assessments: Design Thinking.

Design Thinking is a human-centric and curiosity-driven methodology that can be easily adapted to the classroom. It builds student creativity, critical thinking , and collaboration—skills that cannot easily be replicated by AI—while concurrently enabling teachers to monitor and assess student learning in a formative manner.

Lead researcher and UniSA Ph.D. candidate Maria Vieira, says by adopting a Design Thinking approach, teachers can address integrity issues posed by generative AI.

"Teachers at all levels of education are challenged by the dilemmas presented by generative AI, with one of the biggest issues being academic honesty and authenticity," Vieira says.

"Chatbots like ChatGPT, Meta AI or Microsoft Copilot are a great temptation for students, particularly when an essay can be produced with just a single click. We know that new technologies are not going away, so as teachers, we need to find ways to promote and assess authentic learning.

"Design Thinking requires students to work through several phases of learning: empathy, definition, ideation, prototyping, testing and evaluation, with each step requiring a specific outcome, an opportunity for feedback, and importantly, a touchpoint for prompt feedback and formative assessment.

"Unlike traditional classroom settings where there is often a 'right' answer, Design Thinking addresses problems without predetermined solutions, challenging students to think more critically and creatively.

"The beauty of Design Thinking is that it allows teachers to assess student progress at any point of the process, and at either individual or group level, which immediately presents a solution to integrity issues posed by generative AI."

Design Thinking can lead to a multitude of different creative outputs, including prototypes, mind maps, and presentations, and enables assessment both at individual level (through evidence of research or self-reflection pieces) and group levels (based on output produced).

As the phases occur in an iterative loop, students can revisit and review their work, which encourages continuous improvement, and helps them learn how to provide and receive constructive peer feedback.

"During the Design Thinking process, students have the opportunity to navigate ambiguity, develop empathy, recognize failure as part of the learning process , and collaborate—all skills that are essential for the 21st century," Vieira says.

"This teaching method encourages students to take greater ownership of their learning, allowing teachers to shift their focus from delivering content, to observing and supporting their students in the classroom, being more attentive to their development and learning process.

"While Design Thinking may not be the only solution for the future of education, it is undoubtedly a successful strategy that can be readily adopted across K-12 education systems to address some of the most pressing challenges associated with AI and global digitalization."

To learn more about Design Thinking, teachers can access a free online course presented by Maria Vieira and offered through the Education Futures Academy.

Provided by University of South Australia

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  • MyU : For Students, Faculty, and Staff

College of Science and Engineering

Four new CSE department heads begin in 2024-25

Portrait of four new department heads

They bring a wealth of academic, research, and leadership abilities

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (07/01/2024)—University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering Dean Andrew Alleyne has named four new department heads in the college. All bring a wealth of academic, research, and leadership abilities to their departments.

Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science

Professor Kevin Dorfman has been appointed as the new d epartment h ead for the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science (CEMS). Dorfman started his five-year term on July 1, 2024.

Dorfman joined the University of Minnesota faculty in January of 2006 and was quickly promoted up the ranks, receiving tenure in 2011, promotion to professor in 2015, and named a Distinguished McKnight Professor in 2020. He previously served as the director of undergraduate studies in chemical engineering from 2018-2022, where he headed a large-scale revision of the chemical engineering curriculum and saw the department through its most recent ABET accreditation. 

His research focuses on polymer physics and microfluidics, with applications in self-assembly and biotechnology. He is particularly well known for his integrated experimental and computational work on DNA confinement in nanochannels and its application towards genome mapping. Dorfman’s research has been recognized by numerous national awards including the AIChE Colburn Award, Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering, NSF CAREER Award, and DARPA Young Faculty Award.

Dorfman received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Penn State and a master’s and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from MIT. 

Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering

Professor Archis  Ghate has been appointed as the new Department Head for the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering after a national search. Ghate will begin his five-year term on July 8, 2024. 

Ghate is an expert in operations research and most recently served as the Fluor Endowed Chair in the Department of Industrial Engineering at Clemson University. Previously, he was a professor of industrial and systems engineering at the University of Washington. He has won several research and teaching awards, including an NSF CAREER Award. 

Ghate’s research in optimization spans areas as varied as health care, transportation and logistics, manufacturing, economics, and business analytics. He also served as a principal research scientist at Amazon working on supply chain optimization technologies. 

Ghate received bachelor’s and master’s degrees, both in chemical engineering, from the Indian Institute of Technology. He also received a master’s degree in management science and engineering from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in industrial and operations engineering from the University of Michigan.

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Professor Chris Hogan has been appointed as the new department head for the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Hogan started his five-year term on July 1, 2024.

Hogan, who currently holds the Carl and Janet Kuhrmeyer Chair, joined the University of Minnesota in 2009, and since then has taught fluid mechanics and heat transfer to nearly 1,000 undergraduates, advised 25+ Ph.D. students and postdoctoral associates, and served as the department’s director of graduate studies from 2015-2020. He most recently served as associate department head. 

He is a leading expert in particle science with applications including supersonic-to-hypersonic particle impacts with surfaces, condensation and coagulation, agricultural sprays, and virus aerosol sampling and control technologies. He has authored and co-authored more than 160 papers on these topics. He currently serves as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Aerosol Science . Hogan received the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering’s George W. Taylor Award for Distinguished Research in 2023.

Hogan holds a bachelor’s degree Cornell University and a Ph.D. from Washington University in Saint Louis.

School of Physics and Astronomy

Professor James Kakalios   has been appointed   as the new department head for the School of Physics and Astronomy. Kakalios started his five-year term on July 1, 2024.

Since joining the School of Physics and Astronomy in 1988, Kakalios has built a research program in experimental condensed matter physics, with particular emphasis on complex and disordered systems. His research ranges from the nano to the neuro with experimental investigations of the electronic and optical properties of nanostructured semiconductors and fluctuation phenomena in neurological systems.

During his time at the University of Minnesota, Kakalios has served as both director of undergraduate studies and director of graduate studies. He has received numerous awards and professorships including the University’s Taylor Distinguished Professorship, Andrew Gemant Award from the American Institute of Physics, and the Award for Public Engagement with Science from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He is a fellow of both the American Physical Society and AAAS. 

In addition to numerous research publications, Kakalios is the author of three popular science books— The Physics of Superheroes , The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics , and The Physics of Everyday Things .

Kaklios received a bachelor’s degree from City College of New York and master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Chicago.

Rhonda Zurn, College of Science and Engineering,  [email protected]

University Public Relations,  [email protected]

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Exploring the Impact of Artificial Intelligence in Teaching and Learning of Science: A Systematic Review of Empirical Research

  • Open access
  • Published: 27 June 2024

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  • Firas Almasri 1 , 2 , 3 , 4  

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The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in education is transforming various dimensions of the education system, such as instructional practices, assessment strategies, and administrative processes. It also plays an active role in the progression of science education. This systematic review attempts to render an inherent understanding of the evidence-based interaction between AI and science education. Specifically, this study offers a consolidated analysis of AI’s impact on students’ learning outcomes, contexts of its adoption, students’ and teachers’ perceptions about its use, and the challenges of its use within science education. The present study followed the PRISMA guidelines to review empirical papers published from 2014 to 2023. In total, 74 records met the eligibility for this systematic study. Previous research provides evidence of AI integration into a variety of fields in physical and natural sciences in many countries across the globe. The results revealed that AI-powered tools are integrated into science education to achieve various pedagogical benefits, including enhancing the learning environment, creating quizzes, assessing students’ work, and predicting their academic performance. The findings from this paper have implications for teachers, educational administrators, and policymakers.

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a broad field encompassing various technologies that have been developed over the past 50 years to enable machines to perform tasks traditionally requiring human intelligence, such as perceiving, reasoning, learning, and interacting (Ergen, 2019). However, recent advancements in generative AI (GenAI), particularly models like ChatGPT, have brought unprecedented attention to AI’s transformative potential across multiple industries (Hong et al., 2022 ; Lucci et al., 2022 ). Unlike predictive (pre-generative) AI which focuses predictions and decision making through a variety of machine learning and modelling techniques, Generative AI specializes in creating new content, such as text, images, and codes by using models of deep learning (Dai, 2023 ; Tang & Nichols, 2024 ). This distinction is essential to understand the breadth of AI applications in education.

Artificial intelligence in education (AIEd) is an evolving interdisciplinary arena incorporating AI technologies to renovate and enhance teaching and learning environments. Particularly, the application of AI in science teaching and learning is becoming more popular, even as interest in AI’s effects on general education is growing (Chiu et al., 2023 ; Gonzalez et al., 2017 ). More specifically, machine learning, a specific artificial intelligence technology, has been applied to automatically evaluate scientific models used in the education sector. Zhai et al. ( 2022 ) employed machine learning techniques to assess the quality of these models after gathering student responses to activities. Their research demonstrates how artificial intelligence can be used to automate assessment procedures and provide students with timely and detailed feedback on their work in the area of science education (Zhai, C Haudek, Zhai et al., 2020a , b , 2022 ). Similarly, Popenici and Kerr ( 2017 ) conducted a study to investigate the impact of AI on the teaching-learning process in higher education settings. Their study focused on how intelligent technologies are affecting student learning and traditional teaching approaches in education. Their research presents valuable insights into the incorporation of AI within science education contexts.

Zawacki-Richter et al. ( 2019 ), in their systematic assessment of AI applications in higher education, focused on the vital role that teachers can play in this domain. Their results suggest how important it is to explore and understand the needs and perceptions of teachers when integrating these technologies into teaching-learning settings. Likewise, Xu and Ouyang (2022) employed a systematic literature review method to identify and summarize research studies and classify the roles of AI in the educational system. Their findings advocate the use of AI is within the education environment to support its role in three ways: (1) AI as a new subject, (2) AI as an immediate mediator, and AI as a complementary aid to impact the teacher-learner, learner-self, and learner-learner relationships.

Though artificial intelligence has flourished in numerous domains within the education system, a comprehensive analysis of its role, advantages, and challenges in science education must be further explored through empirical investigations. This knowledge gap might prompt teachers, policymakers, and educational administrators to base decisions on patchy as well as limited information, lacking potential opportunities to enhance science teaching and learning with the help of AI. To fill this gap, the present paper provides a systematic review that comprehensively examines and consolidates AI’s impact on science education, evidenced by the empirical publications published from 2014 to 2023. While GenAI represents a significant leap in AI capabilities, this review considers the full spectrum of AI technologies, including both pre-GenAI and GenAI developments. In this way, we attempt to provide a holistic perspective on the current landscape, aiding stakeholders in leveraging AI’s potential while also considering its challenges and ethical implications for educational domains. The overarching objective of this review is to provide insights that could guide future research endeavors and advocate for evidence-based practices to enrich science education through the effective utilization of artificial intelligence.

Research Background

Overview of science education.

The goal of science education is not only to teach scientific knowledge but also to develop a scientifically literate populace capable of engaging in scientific reasoning and decision-making (Almasri, 2021 ; Grinnell, 2021 ). This aligns with the “Science for All” movement, emphasizing the importance of science education for all students, not just those pursuing careers in science (Almasri et al., 2022 ; Mansour, 2009 ). Students’ scientific literacy and critical thinking abilities are developed through the teaching and learning of scientific theories, procedures, and experiments in science education (Alharbi et al., 2022 ; Liu & Pásztor, 2022 ; Mogea, 2022 ; Zulyusri et al., 2023 ).

The nature of science education extends beyond content-based instruction to include student-centered activities and the development of scientific literacy for citizenship (Almasri et al., 2021 ; Irez, 2006a , b ; Kolstø, 2001 ). National development hinges significantly on robust contributions from the scientific community, driving economic growth and propelling the overall advancement of a nation (Hewapathirana & Almasri, 2022 ; Kola, 2013 ). The “Call to Action” for science education highlights an compelling necessity to improve educational approaches and make them consistent with the demands of the 21st century (Holme, 2021 ; Ibáñez & Delgado-Kloos, 2018 ). It is essential for developing students’ foundational knowledge, intriguing their curiosity, and getting them ready for STEM careers as per the contemporary world’s needs. Through AI incorporation, science education can be made more interesting, approachable, and pertinent for students of all ages and backgrounds by emphasizing experiential learning.

Prospects of Incorporating AI in Science Learning

With AI technology’s continuous evolution and popularity, the possibilities for its application in science education are promising but not without challenges. AI has the capability to transform the way science is taught and learned. One of the most compelling applications of AI in science education is its ability to simulate scientific experiments and provide virtual laboratory experiences to science learners. This ensures that students can practice and develop their scientific skills in a safe and controlled environment, potentially saving expenses and offering new opportunities for exploring scientific concepts that may not be feasible in traditional laboratory settings (Wahyono et al., 2019 ). However, these virtual experiences may lack the tactile and hands-on aspects of interaction with the physical world (Tang & Cooper, 2024 ), which are crucial for certain types of learning.

By leveraging AI, educators can also move away from traditional, one-size-fits-all approaches to education and instead provide personalized and interactive learning experiences for students. AI-powered algorithms can go beyond simply providing recommendations and assessments to conducting deep analyses of students’ learning patterns, allowing for highly personalized learning experiences (Zhai et al., 2021 ; Zhai et al., 2020a , b ). However, the effectiveness of these personalized learning systems depends heavily on the quality and representativeness of the data they are trained on, which can sometimes introduce biases and perpetuate existing inequities.

In addition, students can also benefit from immediate feedback and adaptive learning pathways, ensuring that they are able to address any misconceptions or gaps in their understanding of scientific phenomena (Mavroudi et al., 2018 ). AI can also help science educators track and monitor students’ progress more effectively, allowing for targeted interventions and support where necessary. Moreover, the use of AI can enable the development of interactive and immersive learning environments, making science education more engaging and accessible to students with diverse learning styles and needs. As AI continues to advance, the potential for its integration into science learning is likely to grow, presenting exciting opportunities to transform and elevate the science education experiences for students at all levels.

Anticipated Benefits of AI Implementation in Science Teaching

Artificial intelligence (AI) has numerous benefits in science education, profoundly affecting teaching and learning for science subjects. AI programs can study how students learn and change the material to fit each student’s needs, skills, and the way they learn. This way of creating educational material helps students learn better and faster. It lets them go at their own speed and in a way that matches how they like to learn (Zawacki-Richter et al., 2019 ). Also, AI-powered data analysis can help science teachers understand how well their students are doing in specific scientific subjects and where they might need extra help.

Another significant advantage is the improvement of exploratory learning through virtual labs and reenactments. AI-powered instruments have the potential to recreate complex logical tests, which may be illogical or hazardous to conduct in a conventional classroom setting. These virtual situations offer hands-on learning encounters and permit understudies to try distinctive scenarios, improving their understanding of scientific concepts (Ibáñez et al., 2018). This approach was not as supportive of extending understudy engagement but too valuable to democratize access to high-quality science instruction. AI devices can interface understudies and teachers over diverse geographies, empowering the trade of logical thoughts and cultivating a worldwide point of view on logical issues. This interconnecting also permits integrating differing datasets into the educational modules, uncovering understudies to real-world logical challenges and datasets (Holmes et al., 2023 ).

Ethical Considerations of AI Integration in Education

Even though artificial intelligence (AI) in education has bright futures, important ethical issues need to be resolved when integrating AI in the classroom. Many researchers have stressed considering the ethical implications and the need for character education in the era of AI (Burton et al., 2017 ; Cathrin & Wikandaru, 2023 ). The lack of critical reflection on the pedagogical and ethical implications and the risks of implementing AI applications in higher education underscores the need for a comprehensive ethical framework (Bozkurt et al., 2021 ).

Additionally, the integration of AI into educational settings presents new ethical obligations for teachers, necessitating a revaluation of ethical frameworks and responsibilities (Adams et al., 2022 ). Moreover, the introduction of ethics courses in academic training and capacity building of AI development actors can facilitate the integration of ethical values and the development of responsible AI (Kiemde & Kora, 2022 ). The ethical implications of AI in education extend beyond technical considerations to encompass broader societal impacts, such as privacy protection and social justice (Hermansyah et al., 2023 ).

Educators and students must understand, evaluate, and familiarize themselves with the uses of generative AI tools and consider their potential impacts on academic integrity. This involves recognizing when and how AI is used, assessing the reliability and validity of AI-generated outputs, and understanding the ethical and social implications of AI applications (Akgun & Greenhow, 2021 ). Moreover, the application of AI in education brings questions about educational equity and access to the fore. Systemic biases in AI algorithms and data can perpetuate inequities, making it crucial to address these biases effectively (Adams et al., 2022 ).

Purpose of the Study

The primary goal of the present study is to highlight the potential benefits as well as any disparities that might result from the widespread use of AI in science subjects. These discrepancies could be related to gaps in infrastructure, preparedness in the region, or accessibility. Eventually, the present investigation aims to furnish all relevant stakeholders, i.e., educators, learners, policymakers, and curriculum designers—with a deeper understanding of the current interaction between AI and science education.

The following research questions are addressed in this systematic review:

Impact on Learning Outcomes: How do AI tools impact student learning outcomes and engagement in science education?

Contexts of AI Adoption: What are the potential disparities in the uptake of AI tools within science education, considering differences among countries, educational levels, and subject areas?

Student and Teacher Perceptions: What are the perceptions and attitudes of students and educators towards the use of AI tools in science education?

Pedagogical Challenges: What are the identified challenges associated with using AI in science education?


The authors worked diligently to explore how artificial intelligence contributes to science education thoroughly. We followed a structured process suggested by the widely used review methodology called Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (Page et al., 2021 ). The review approach of the current study comprised various stages – defining the study’s purpose along with specific research questions, formulating a protocol, an extensive literature search, a systematic screening process, extracting pertinent data, and synthesizing the findings. The sections below specifically mention how each of these steps was carried out for this study.

Search Strategy

We accessed a range of prominent digital repositories and databases to search the relevant literature. Particularly, IEEE Xplore, Springer, Tylor and Francis, ERIC (U.S. Dept. of Education), Science Direct, and Wiley were targeted to search the relevant literature. We also used Google Scholar and Google to make sure that we didn’t miss any important information. We used advanced search features to limit our search results to papers published between 2014 and 2023, ensuring that our search was focused and up to date (Piasecki et al., 2018 ).

We utilized a smart search strategy along with a range of search terms and operators to accomplish this. Our search strategy used a combination of key terms such as “artificial intelligence”, “AI”, “generative AI”, “ChatGPT,” “machine learning”, “robotics”, “intelligent system,” and “expert system” paired with descriptors like “science education,” “science learning,” or simply “science”. These combinations, along with their possible variations, were systematically applied to search within the papers’ titles, keywords, and abstracts. This search strategy was created with the aim to identify and consider a broad range of empirical work relating to the use of artificial intelligence in the teaching and learning of science.

Eligibility Criteria

Describing clear eligibility (inclusion and exclusion) criteria allows for setting boundaries for a systematic literature review. These criteria were aimed at creating a structured framework that facilitates the inclusion of studies meeting essential prerequisites while excluding those that don’t align with our research objectives. The inclusion criteria are as follows:

The paper must have employed empirical methods, such as quantitative, qualitative, or/and mixed methods, warranting a rigorous data collection and analysis approach.

The paper should have conducted research in an educational setting, encircling primary, middle, secondary, or higher education, emphasizing the applicability of the findings in educational environments.

A pivotal criterion necessitates the use of artificial intelligence in the study. This AI practice should have been applied to the teaching-learning process, and empirical data collected and integrated into the study.

Studies should be related to a science-related content area, spanning courses like chemistry, physics, biology, engineering, health sciences, or other related disciplines, ensuring applicability to the research topic.

The timeframe specified for publication years, from 2014 to 2023, targets to capture relevant studies within the past decade, ensuring the examination of recent developments in AI-based learning.

Our exclusion criteria were as follows:

Excluding studies that are not empirical in nature, such as theoretical papers, reviews, editorials, or opinion pieces, to maintain the focus on empirical research.

Studies written in languages other than English.

Studies that did not explicitly mention the AI use within a learning context.

Excluding studies that are solely available in abstract form and lack full-length publications.

The Screening Process

In the months of November and December 2023, we went on a thorough hunt for the required information. We started by searching through loads of databases and found 5,121 articles. After getting rid of duplicates, checking publication dates and titles, and looking at abstracts to see if they met the eligibility criteria for the present study, we ended up with 128 articles. From there, we excluded 41 studies because they didn’t really dive into science education. That left us with 87 articles that we pored over super carefully. We made sure they fit our criteria and answered our research questions before diving into them. From the pool of these 61 articles, ten (13) studies were identified as lacking clear empirical evidence regarding the use of artificial intelligence and were subsequently excluded. This process resulted in a final dataset of 74 articles that were included in the systematic review. See Table  1 for the list of studies included in our review. Figure  1 demonstrates a quick preview of the search strategy and the screening process.

figure 1

PRISMA review process

Coding and Analysis

We used a mix of qualitative and quantitative content analysis techniques to synthesize the findings of the empirical papers. To ensure inter-rater reliability in relation to the quality of article coding procedures, a small random sample consisting of 20 selected articles was independently coded by multiple raters. The calculated reliability level exceeded 92%, signifying a high degree of agreement across coding categories. We conducted a comprehensive examination of the studies from various perspectives. Firstly, we analyzed the characteristics of the data set, including the country where the studies were conducted, the journal name, the content area, and the educational level.

In this comprehensive review of the literature, we carefully evaluated seventy-four (74) empirical studies that deal with the incorporation of AI into science education. Numerous research approaches, such as mixed, qualitative, and quantitative approaches, were used in these studies. Examining the publication dates of the included papers revealed that they were dispersed over the review study’s 10-year focal period (2014 to 2023). The year 2023, with twenty-seven (27) papers, led the way, demonstrating researchers’ strong interest in the most recent research on the application of artificial intelligence in science education. This was followed by ten (10) studies in 2022, eight (08) studies in 2021, and nine (09) studies in year 2020. For more information on the year-wise publication, see Fig.  2 .

figure 2

Year-wise publications

The review process of the present study involved the consolidation of findings pertaining to four distinct research questions, each of which is presented separately in the following sections.

RQ1: Impact on Outcomes Comparison

The first research question of the current study specifically addressed the primary intention of this systematic research i.e., analyzing the reported impact of AI-enhanced learning on students’ learning outcomes in science education. The empirical papers reviewed showed that artificial intelligence has been used within science education for a variety of purposes, such as engaging students in the learning process with a strong sense of motivation and interest (Balakrishnan, 2018 ), generating tests of science subjects (Aldabe & Maritxalar, 2014 ; Nasution & Education, 2023 ), scoring and providing personalized feedback on students’ assignments (Azcona et al., 2019 ; Maestrales et al., 2021 ; Mirchi et al., 2020 ), and predicting student performance (Blikstein et al., 2014 ; Buenaño-Fernández et al., 2019 ; Jiao et al., 2022a , b ).

AI-based tools were found to have a positive influence on student’ learning outcomes in science-related courses. The experimental group that was exposed to AI integration in their learning environments exhibited significantly higher scores in their academic tests compared to the control group who experienced traditional learning environments (Alneyadi & Wardat, 2023 ; Koć-Januchta et al., 2020 ). Ledesma and García ( 2017 ) and Lamb et al. ( 2021 ) highlighted AI’s capacity to identify complex concepts and enhance problem-solving skills significantly in subjects (Lamb et al., 2021 ; Ledesma & García, 2017 ). Ferrarelli and Iocchi ( 2021 ), Cochran et al. ( 2023 ), and Figueiredo and Paixão ( 2015 ) showcased how AI is helpful in fostering improved subject understanding and heightened motivation among students, particularly in physics and chemistry (Ferrarelli & Iocchi, 2021 ; Figueiredo et al., 2016 ).

Lee et al. ( 2022 ) argue that AI-based tools such as chatbots can help students become cognitively more active in the learning process(Lee et al., 2022 ). Likewise, Azcona ( 2019 ) suggests that personalized learning facilitated by AI can help reduce the gap between lower- and higher-performing students. Moreover, AI-powered education can empower students to predict their learning outcomes and strategically regulate their learning behavior (Buenaño-Fernández et al., 2019 ).

The effectiveness of different AI models varied across studies. Nguyen et al. ( 2023 ) highlighted the performance disparities among AI models like Google Bard, ChatGPT, and Bing Chat in addressing biology problems for Vietnamese students (Nguyen et al., 2023 ). While chatbots positively influenced online learning experiences, their impact on academic achievement remained variable (Almasri, 2022a ; Deveci Topal et al., 2021 ). In essence, these findings underscore the potential of AI to augment science education by enhancing student understanding, motivation, and engagement. However, they also underscore the importance of addressing challenges related to AI’s adaptability to subject matter and context and the need for continued exploration into AI’s comparative impact on academic achievement vis-à-vis traditional teaching methods in science education. Daher et al. ( 2023 ) pointed to AI’s limitations in comprehending specific subject matter, which could impact its effectiveness in aiding student learning. Cooper ( 2023 ) emphasized the need for educators to critically evaluate and adapt AI-generated resources to suit diverse teaching contexts.

RQ2: Contexts of AI Adoption

In our second research question, we aimed to explore the potential disparities in the uptake of AI tools within science education, considering differences among countries, educational levels, and subject areas. The results disclosed that artificial intelligence has been incorporated in a variety of subject areas within science education, including physical and natural sciences. The studies reviewed were highly dominated by investigations that did not specify any particular domain of science ( n  = 15, 20.30%), but they preferred to use “Science” as the subject area in their papers. Next in line, was the subject of Physics with the second-highest number of papers ( n  = 10, 13.50%). The list was continued by Biology and Programming with nine ( n  = 9, 12.16%) and eight ( n  = 8, 10.81%) papers, respectively. The subjects of Mathematics and Engineering occupied about 16% (with 06 papers each) of the total papers. Out of 74 studies, only five (05) studies were conducted to investigate the use of AI for AI education. The subjects of Computers/technology were focused on in four papers. Lastly, only one paper was centered around the use of artificial intelligence in Statistics and Earth Science. Figure  3 provides a summary of the content areas that were the focus of the papers included in our review.

figure 3

Studies distributed around subject areas within science education

While examining the various educational levels that benefited from the integration of artificial intelligence in some manner, we found that nearly half of the studies ( n  = 35, 47%) belonged to undergraduate level, followed by high schools ( n  = 15, 20%) and middle schools ( n  = 7, 10%) respectively. Out of the total 74 papers, about 8% of the studies ( n  = 6) were conducted in secondary school contexts. Likewise, 8% of the studies involved multiple levels of educational settings. In contrast, three of the studies (about 4%) were conducted in elementary school. Only 2% of the papers belonged to the college level, and only one study was conducted at the postgraduate and college levels. Figure  4 provides a quick distribution of the students in various educational contexts.

figure 4

Studies distributed across various educational levels

Similarly, country-wise categorization of the papers exposed that about 38% of the studies ( n  = 25) were conducted in the context of the United States. Germany ranked second in the list with six studies (8%). This was followed by four studies (5.4%) carried out in Turkey and Australia. UAE and Malaysia followed in the race, each with three papers. Eight countries, including Sweden, China, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the Netherlands, Israel, and Taiwan, contributed about 21.6% of the total papers, each with two studies. The rest of the papers ( n  = 10, 13.51%) were written in the context of 10 different countries across the globe (see Fig.  5 for details).

figure 5

Country of research context

RQ3: Student and Teacher Perceptions

With our third research question, we attempted to explore science teachers’ and students’ perceptions regarding the integration of AI. The studies revealed multifaceted perspectives on the integration of AI in science education among both students and teachers. The effectiveness of AI tools in augmenting learning experiences garnered students’ attention. Students showcased increased engagement and improved subject understanding through AI-based interventions, indicating positive perceptions of AI’s efficacy in enhancing learning outcomes (Ferrarelli & Iocchi, 2021 ; Ledesma & García, 2017 ). For example, Bitzenbauer (2023) found that ChatGPT’s use in Physics classrooms favorably influenced students’ perceptions in Germany. Avelino et al. ( 2017 ) echoed this sentiment for undergraduate students in the United States.

Students reported their increased interest in science courses when AI was integrated into the learning environments. Students particularly admired the AI’s power to provide prediction and personalized feedback (Azcona et al., 2019 ). According to Elkhodr et al. ( 2023 ), science students perceive AI-based tools as useful and enjoyable learning resources, while most students showed a willingness to use them in the future.

Our analysis suggests that science teachers hold a high level of acceptance and positive attitudes toward AI’s utilization in the classroom. Teachers welcome its use with positive correlations to self-efficacy, ease of use, and behavioral intentions (Al Darayseh, 2023 ). They perceive this technology as the need of the hour to boost student engagement (Almasri, 2022b ; Nersa, 2020 ). Empirical papers included in the current study exposed fluctuating degrees of comfort and adaptability among educators and students in incorporating AI into their teaching and learning processes. Al Darayseh ( 2023 ) noted that science teachers exhibited favorable attitudes toward AI’s integration, possibly due to the perceived reduced effort in its utilization and their confidence in their essential skills to incorporate AI effectively.

There are several factors that influence teachers’ intentions and behavior regarding the use of AI, including self-esteem, expected benefits, ease of utilization, and their overall attitude toward AI applications. Teachers’ favorable disposition towards AI use is also due to their perception of reduced effort in its utilization.(Nja et al., 2023 ). Overall, teachers consider AI tools like ChatGPT to be helpful in designing science units, rubrics, and quizzes (Cooper, 2023 ). Yet, challenges associated with AI integration could influence students’ and teachers’ perceptions of AI’s reliability and accuracy in supporting educational goals, posing potential barriers to widespread acceptance and utilization.

RQ4: Pedagogical Challenges

Our analysis uncovered several challenges associated with the integration of AI in terms of complexities and limitations of its use within this particular domain of the education system. One prevalent challenge revolved around AI’s capability to comprehend and effectively address specific subject matter. Daher et al. ( 2023 ) highlighted instances where AI, like ChatGPT, encountered difficulties in understanding complex concepts in chemistry. They argue that the information provided by AI tools such as ChatGPT is limited because it depends on the data it was taught with. It might not have access to the latest or most complete knowledge in a particular domain.

Adaptability and contextual relevance emerged as significant concerns regarding the use of AI within science teaching. Cooper ( 2023 ) stressed that teachers critically evaluate AI-based resources and adapt them to their teaching contexts. He suggested that a one-size-fits-all approach might not suffice in accommodating the intricacies of varied educational environments. Another challenge pertained to the effectiveness and performance variability of different AI models. Nguyen et al. ( 2023 ) showcased the varying performance levels of different AI models, indicating disparities in their ability to address specific subject-related challenges. This variability in performance, as seen in different studies, implies the need for thorough evaluation and selection of appropriate AI tools tailored to the needs of specific subject areas. Furthermore, ethical considerations and limitations in AI’s current capabilities were notable concerns. Kieser et al. ( 2023 ) raised ethical issues regarding students using AI to fabricate data for class assignments. Addressing these challenges requires a nuanced approach that acknowledges the potential and constraints of AI while striving to optimize its role in enhancing science education effectively.


The primary objective of this review was to investigate the interaction between artificial intelligence and science education. Our study uncovered a diverse landscape of AI usage within science education. Our results suggested that integrating AI tools in science education consistently improves students’ academic performance. This was evident in higher test scores and a better understanding of complex concepts compared to those in traditional learning environments (Alneyadi & Wardat, 2023 ; Koć-Januchta et al., 2020 ; Siddaway et al., 2019 ).

Literature suggests that integrating artificial intelligence into the teaching-learning process facilitates understanding complex scientific topics (Lamb et al., 2021 ; Ledesma & García, 2017 ). It also helps develop problem-solving skills considerably, leading to a better understanding of subjects, particularly in fields like physics and chemistry. Furthermore, it was revealed that science teachers use AI-driven tools to engage students effectively and foster their motivation and interest in science-related subjects (Balakrishnan, 2018 ). Personalized learning through AI tools helps bridge performance gaps between lower and higher-performing students (Azcona et al., 2019 ), contributing to a more equitable learning environment. AI-generated personalized feedback also contributed to students’ increased engagement in the learning process (Azcona et al., 2019 ; Maestrales et al., 2021 ; Mirchi et al., 2020 ).

The current systematic review suggests that the distribution of studies within various subject areas in science education showcases a dominant focus on science in general, followed by physics, biology, programming, and other specific science subjects. Some specific domains, like earth science and statistics, received comparatively the least attention in the reviewed literature.

The distribution of research papers across countries demonstrates certain disparities. The United States had a significantly higher number of studies compared to other nations. Germany ranked second on the list. Turkey and Australia followed, while UAE, Malaysia, and Canada contributed with a moderate number of studies. Several countries had minimal representation, with a diverse spread across multiple nations. Concentration of studies in certain countries like the United States and Germany might suggest varying levels of research infrastructure or prioritization of AI in education compared to other nations with fewer studies. This could potentially lead to disparities in the implementation and impact of AI tools in science education among different regions globally.

Our analysis found that students exhibit increased engagement and interest in science courses when AI tools are integrated into learning environments. This heightened interest is attributed to AI’s ability to provide predictions and personalized feedback (Jiao et al., 2022b ), making learning more engaging and enjoyable (Hewapathirana & Almasri, 2022 ). Students perceive AI-based tools as useful and beneficial for their learning experiences. They acknowledge AI’s effectiveness in improving subject understanding and express a willingness to continue using such tools in the future (Elkhodr et al., 2023 ).

Similar to students, science teachers also demonstrate positive attitudes and acceptance of AI tools in the classroom, correlating with perceived benefits in student engagement and their own teaching efficacy. Teachers view AI integration as a means to enhance student engagement, with some perceiving it as a way to reduce effort while teaching, leading to increased confidence in utilizing AI effectively (Al Darayseh, 2023 ). Specifically, teachers perceive ChatGPT a valuable resource for designing science units, rubrics, quizzes, and teaching aids, offering convenience and potential enhancement to their teaching methodologies.

While AI showed promise in improving learning outcomes, there are challenges related to its adaptability to subject matter and context. Some studies pointed out limitations in comprehending specific subjects, potentially impacting the effectiveness of AI in aiding student learning. Previous research suggests that AI tools like ChatGPT face difficulties in comprehending and addressing complex concepts in specific subject areas, as seen in instances within chemistry (Daher et al., 2023 ). The dependency on the data it was trained with limits its access to the latest or most comprehensive knowledge in particular domains. A uniform approach might not adequately cater to the complexities and nuances of varied educational environments, emphasizing the need for adaptable solutions (Cooper, 2023 ). Addressing these challenges requires a balanced approach that acknowledges AI’s potential and constraints in science education. Thus, teachers are advised to critically evaluate AI-generated resources and tailor them to diverse teaching contexts.

Our research provides important implications for teacher preparation and in-service professional development regarding AI in our society and implementing AI tools and processes in K-12 education (Antonenko & Abramowitz, 2023 ). As a whole, integrating artificial intelligence positively enhances the process and outcome of science education. However, there are certain limitations and challenges associated with its use. Providing training and support to educators to effectively utilize AI tools can enhance their confidence and capabilities in integrating these technologies into teaching practices. Moreover, establishing clear ethical guidelines and frameworks for the responsible use of AI in education can mitigate the risk of misuse and ensure ethical practices among students and educators.


Some of the inherent limitations of this research review are discussed in this section. First, just like with other reviews, the search terms and strategies determine which research papers are included. Although a thorough and methodologically rigorous search was the goal, using different search terms might have turned up more articles that could have been included in the review. Furthermore, a few particular research databases were searched in order to find pertinent empirical literature for inclusion in this research review. An alternative methodological strategy would have involved restricting the search for research to a predetermined list of scholarly, peer-reviewed journals. A smaller sample of literature for inclusion may have occurred due to this strategy. However, greater control over validity, reliability, and credibility during the search and inclusion processes was sought to the best level. Lastly, we may have missed some grey literature, such as dissertations and conference proceedings, that was not indexed in the databases/repositories that we used.

This systematic review examined the impact, perceptions, and challenges associated with the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the teaching and learning of science. Our analysis uncovered a landscape rich in prospective benefits and challenges. The usage of AI in science education steadily established positive impacts on student learning outcomes. It encourages participation in the educational process, enhances comprehension of the subject, and boosts motivation in the students. Both students and teachers showed positive views of AI’s effectiveness and ease of use. Both acknowledged its potential to boost learning experiences. Nevertheless, issues arose from AI’s limited ability to understand particular subject matter, its inability to adjust to various educational contexts, and the variation in performance between various AI models. Ethical considerations regarding responsible use also appeared to be an important concern. Addressing these challenges demands a careful approach that considers thorough evaluation and adaptation to diverse contexts. Educators and policymakers should navigate these complexities to join the potential of AI in science education while ensuring ethical practices and maximizing its impact on students’ learning journey worldwide.

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