For the scientist the question of why to study science does not need to be answered. No explanation is required in case you are one of the people who get science. Chances are that you already have at least some of the scientific skills necessary to pursue such a career and the whole point of study is to gain skills which you do not have yet. For those who are not pursuing a career in science, however, it can frequently feel as if science courses of any stripe are a waste of your time. Especially physic education tend to be avoided at all cost with courses in biology taking their place to fill necessary science requirements. The argument in favor of scientific literacy is amply made in James Trefil’s 2007 book Why science? It focuses on arguments from civics, aesthetics and culture to explain why a very basic understanding of scientific concepts is necessary for the non-scientist. The benefits of physic education and education in science as a whole can be clearly seen in the description of science by famed quantum physicist Richard Feynman. He says that science looks like a way to teach how something gets to be known.

Physic education

Trefil refers to the physic’s first approach presented by 1988 Noble Laureate Leon Lederman in his Chicago-based educational reforms. The approach emphasizes the idea that physics is the most fundamental of sciences. Chemistry is applied physics, after all, and biology is basically applied chemistry. Of course, you can extend beyond that into more specific fields – zoology, ecology and genetics are all further applications of biology, for example. But the point is that all of science can be reduced down to fundamental physics concepts such as thermodynamics and nuclear physics, in principle. This is how, in fact, how physics developed historically – basic principles of physic were determined by Galileo while biology still consisted of various theories of spontaneous generation. Grounding a physic education or other scientific one, however, makes perfect sense because it is the foundation of science. You can expand from physics naturally into the more specialized applications, going from thermodynamics and nuclear physics into chemistry and from mechanics and material physics principles into engineering. It should also point out that that the opposite argument holds just as strongly while on the subject of well rounded education. Someone who is studying science needs to be able to function in society and this involves understanding the entire culture – not just the techno-culture involved. A firm grasp of science provides little understanding of the world, let alone appreciation for it without any grounding in the rest of the world. Cultural or political issues need not be taken into account. The fact is that the important issues in society never involve purely scientific question, while scientists have known many other scientists who feel that they can objectively evaluate the world in a rational, scientific manner.