When talking about STEM, the place of “Science” is crucial.
The word "science" was derived from the Latin word "scientia" which is translated as knowledge. Therefore, science is a body of knowledge which deals with facts about the physical world obtained through systematic experiment. It is a system of knowledge based on facts, observation and experiments. This also means that scientific studies follow a system of procedures.
In this study, we would be taking certain notes about science into consideration. They include the scientific method, the importance of science, as well as its branches or fields.
WHY IS SCIENCE IMPORTANT?
Science is a beautiful field of study laced with benefits in everyday living. Its importance is felt, not just by scientists or students of science, but indeed, by the human race. Below are a few of them:
It helps build analytical skills: Science is popular for systematically studying the most inconsequential of elements and objects. Therefore, it teaches you how to think, and pay attention to the tiniest detail. This skill is necessary for other aspects of life, including appropriate decision making which most people fail at.
It enhances problem identification and solving skills: Not only does studying science increase the problem solving ability of its students, science can also be used to solve complex problems and set new laws which would in turn help to avoid further problems.
It aids students with strong focus and good organisation skills: With the intense observations carried out during data analysis, a nerve-racking level of focus is required of scientists and students of science- This on its own is a great skill. A number of other acquirable skills in science include organisational and cognitive skills. All of which are great tools for successfully sailing through life.
Rapid increase in knowledge: Research has shown that with the increase in scientific discoveries, there has been a hike in knowledge which in turn has helped move the human race forward, and is still saving lives. For example, with more researchers emerging, people have learnt how to live longer via safe dieting.
Leads to technological advancements: No doubt, an increase in scientific discoveries has led to a rise in technological advancements which include our computers, electricity, cars, and the likes. All of which has improved how humans live.
Good Employment: With its disciplinary diversity, the study of science has given rise to several professionals- Doctors, Lab Scientists, Life Scientists, Opticians, Pharmacologists, and the list goes on.
The Scientific Method
The above mentioned phrase is one that often rings a bell, but what can we say it means?
Understanding the scientific method is important for learners to harness skills to identify and solve questions about their environment. The Scientific Method is a series systematised approaches employed by scientists while carrying out investigations. The steps are outlined as follows
Identification of a problem:
This is achieved through strategic asking of questions. For example, “What leads to an earthquake?” Oftentimes, the questions are derived from observations.
2. Definition of the problem:
After a supposed problem is identified, then scientists would begin to consider how much of a problem it really is and how much attention it truly requires, especially if it’s one with lives on the line.
3. Formulation of appropriate hypothesis:
This step involves the formulation of predictions. These hypotheses or predictions are drawn from their own observations, existing theories and the information they are able to gather from other sources.
4. Collection of data:
With the availability of a hypothesis, data is then collected to test and prove the hypothesis. Collection of data or evidence can be done via a diversity of strategies, some of which include; observation of the natural world, experimentation or by running a model. Sometimes, strategies are combined, depending on the hypothesis predicated. Then, they plan their procedure and gather their data, however making sure their chosen procedure for data collection can be repeated by other scientists interested in proving their findings.
5. Analysis of the data: Having gathered the required data, an analysis is carried out. During the analysis, data is often arranged in graphs, tables or diagrams. The aim is to connect
6. Drawing of conclusions based on the data: This final stage shows whether or not the evidence supports the hypothesis.
Branches of Science
Science cuts across a wide scope and covers a number of fields of study. According to MacComas (2002), science can be divided into two broad categories: natural sciences and physical sciences. However, Burnie in 2007 further divided science into five branches which are; physical sciences, earth sciences, life sciences, social sciences and mathematics. Whereas other propounders have added Technology. These branches all come along with their distinct fields of study.
The term “Physical Sciences” is a vast term used in describing the branches of science which study non-living systems, in contrast to the biological sciences.
Topics found under this field include astronomy, chemistry and physics. Astronomy in plain terms is referred to as “the science of the heavens”. In other words, it is the study of the universe beyond the earth's atmosphere. Chemistry is a core branch of the physical sciences which deals with the composition of substances, the way they react to energy and themselves. A branch of chemistry known as Biochemistry deals solely with substances in living things. It shows how organisms react to chemical reactions and how they are built up in the process. Another core branch is physics. Physics borders on the relationship between energy, matter, time and force, and the way they shape the physical behaviour of the universe.
2. Earth Sciences
Earth science, simply put, is the study of the knowledge surrounding the earth. It attempts to understand and explain natural phenomena concerning the earth through careful observation and experimentation.
Earth sciences also has its branches, which includes; geology, metrology, hydrology, oceanography and soil science. Geology is the study of the solid earth. It extensively studies the origins, structures and composition of the earth, meanwhile geography studies the earth surface, alongside the physical changes that result in activities by humans which includes deforestation, farming, mining, overgrazing and the likes.
Meteorology is the study of the earth’s atmosphere and its atmospheric conditions via the use of satellite, radar and related technologies. While hydrology is the study of water resources on land.
Oceanography deals with oceans, which according to research, covers three-fourths of the earth’s surface. Lastly, Soil science deals with the study of the pedosphere (the outermost layer of the earth composed of soil)
3. Life Sciences
As opposed to Physical Scientists, Life Scientists deal with the study of living things and organisms. Life sciences studies the evolving of life and the way life interacts with the environment.
Biology is a major branch of life sciences. It is the study of the origin, development, structure, function, evolution and distribution of living things. Over the years, biology has been branched into botany- study of plants, zoology- the study of animals, microbiology- the study of microorganisms, and genetics- the study of the transfer of characteristics into offspring.
In general, Life Scientists study the ways in which life can be sustained on the planet, as well as the evolution of life species.
4. Social Sciences
This is a discipline which examines human society and behaviour by observing the past, present and predicting the future state of humans.
Branches in social sciences include psychology- the study of the human mind and emotions which affect the behaviour. Other branches are Sociology which deals with structure and function of the society, and Anthropology which explores humans as species to be studied. Not to forget Political science, Law and Economics which all study aspects of human society.
5. Mathematical Sciences
This term is an umbrella term which encapsulates a range of mathematical, seemingly mathematical and seemingly non-mathematical disciplines. Mathematical disciplines such as arithmetic, geometry, algebra and the likes; Seemingly mathematical such as computer science, cryptology, econometrics, and theoretical physics; And then, seemingly non-mathematical but solves problems that appear a little mathematical such as vote politics, outbreak of epidemics, ecology, and so on. Therefore in general terms, mathematical sciences examines the relationship between things that can be measured or quantified in real
Technology is simply the use of scientific knowledge to invent means to order and transform matter, energy, and information to solve a problem.