The National Science Education Standards document produced by the National Research Council (NRC) has established scientific literacy as a national goal of science education. Scientific literacy for all Alabama students also continues to be the goal of Alabama's K-12 science education program.
The Alabama Course of Study: Science (Bulletin 2005, No. 20) defines the minimum required content that students should master to achieve this goal.
Scientific literacy enables students to use scientific principles and processes in everyday life to make informed decisions. A solid foundation in science helps develop and strengthen many skills that students use daily such as solving problems creatively, thinking critically, working cooperatively in teams, practicing stewardship of natural resources, and using technology effectively. The goal of scientific literacy is best achieved through an inquiry-based K-12 science program that incorporates scientific knowledge and skills with opportunities to apply both in practical ways.
In order to empower students to achieve scientific literacy and to make sound decisions, Alabama's K-12 science program places a renewed emphasis on the importance of teaching science every day to every student in every grade. A young student's sense of wonder is strongly encouraged by teachers who stimulate and nurture young children's interests, senses, curiosities, and impressions concerning the world around them. As these students grow into preadolescence, exposure to concrete facts, scientific generalizations, theories, principles, and laws becomes increasingly important. Conceptual understanding gradually expands from the concrete to the abstract as students mature and acquire the ability to master complex applications. Instruction is focused on providing experiences, knowledge, and skills that allow students to build understanding of both the content of science and the nature of the scientific enterprise.
Effective implementation of the Alabama Course of Study: Science encourages the development of scientifically literate students. Such individuals are more likely to face with confidence the challenges of an ever-changing world as well as enhance the economic productivity of Alabama, which is directly linked to the scientific and technological skills of its workforce. Student achievement of the goal of scientific literacy requires an investment in students' education that is well worth the efforts and resources expended.