How to achieve scientific literacy


Reading (and writing) precedes all science literacy. We are not merely concerned with the inability to read at all or what we could call illiteracy. We are, however, concerned with the ability to read (and write) symbols in languages other than our mother tongue. A very obvious characteristic of science is the use of specialized language, technical language that is best demonstrated in the use of mathematical symbols in physics. But this is not just about mathematics. This is about the use of technical language in biology. While the term 'technical language' implies some sort of special glossary terms, scientific language, while based in everyday language, (e.g. English, French, Arabic, Urdu), is essentially a tool to work and communicate about your not so ordinary objects, often ill defined, but nevertheless in need of a description. It is a language, even though technical, that cannot simply be learned by reading manuals, because this language grows and changes with the progressive accumulation of knowledge in science. New words (symbols) are created on a daily basis. There meaning communicated by descriptive ways, quantified by mathematical equations, shaped into the precise terminology that we all expect from scientific terms. But this process is not ending, terms are not unique, their meaning is subject to shifting definitions, along with the theoretical and experimental communication through publishing and oral presentations. 

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