The Role Of



How do we integrate The Nature of Science and Technology into our classrooms?

Students in grades 5-8 can begin to differentiate between science and technology, although the distinction is not easy to make early in this level. One basis for understanding the similarities, differences, and relationships between science and technology should be experiences with design and problem solving. The understanding of technology can be developed by tasks in which students have to design something and also by studying technological products and systems.

In the middle-school years, students' work with scientific investigations can be complemented by activities in which the purpose is to meet a human need, solve a human problem, or develop a product rather than to explore ideas about the natural world. The tasks chosen should involve the use of science concepts already familiar to students or should motivate them to learn new concepts needed to use or understand the technology. Students should also, through the experience of trying to meet a need in the best possible way, begin to appreciate that technological design and problem solving involve many other factors besides the scientific issues.

The design tasks should cover a range of needs, materials, and aspects of science. Suitable experiences could include making electrical circuits for a warning device, designing a meal to meet nutritional criteria, choosing a material to combine strength with insulation, selecting plants for an area of a school, or designing a system to move dishes in a restaurant or in a production line. Such work should be complemented by the study of technology in the students' everyday world. This could be achieved by investigating simple, familiar objects through which students can develop powers of observation and analysis--for example, by comparing the various characteristics of competing consumer products, including cost, convenience, durability, and suitability for different modes of use. Regardless of the product used, students need to understand the science behind it. There should be a balance over the years, with the products studied coming from the areas of clothing, food, structures, and simple mechanical and electrical devices. The inclusion of some non product-oriented problems is important to help students understand that technological solutions include the design of systems and can involve communication, ideas, and rules.

In grades 9-12, design tasks should explore a range of contexts including both those immediately familiar in the homes, school, and community of the students and those from wider regional, national, or global contexts. The tasks should promote different ways to tackle the problems so that different design solutions can be implemented by different students. Successful completion of design problems requires that the students meet criteria while addressing conflicting constraints. Where constructions are involved, these might draw on technical skills and understandings developed within the science program, technical and craft skills developed in other school work, or require developing new skills.

Over the high school years, the tasks should cover a range of needs, of materials, and of different aspects of science. For example, a suitable design problem could include assembling electronic components to control a sequence of operations or analyzing the features of different athletic shoes to see the criteria and constraints imposed by the sport, human anatomy, and materials. Some tasks should involve science ideas drawn from more than one field of science. These can be complex, for example, a machine that incorporates both mechanical and electrical control systems.

Although some experiences in science and technology will emphasize solving problems and meeting needs by focusing on products, experience also should include problems about system design, cost, risk, benefit, and very importantly, tradeoffs.

From the National Science Education Standards

The Public View of Science/Technology Project:

Database STS

This project includes the introduction of STS databases and the use of database software for research analysis. The public understanding of a scientific or technological issue of your choice will be assessed by a survey and the results analyzed by the use of the database and associated graphing capabilities. Examining how the public views a scientific or technological issue may inform us as teachers and help us understand what our students are hearing and listening to outside our classrooms.

This database project includes the following components:

Problem solving skills

Technology integration

Use Palm database

Research application

STS topic

Use Excel Graphing

Practice STS Database Project in class

This is the database topic we will use to learn how to create databases on the Palm and plot results. The information we obtain for this database is from references we will have available in class. Although in this practice exercise we are researching stated facts from books, it will teach us the process of database research needed to then apply our study to the research of the public's understanding of science.

Throughout the world, life is a constant struggle to find enough water and food to survive. This struggle translates into other areas of life on our globe. Collect the following information from the CIA World Factbook, WHO, World Resources Institute Global Trends, or Lester Brown's State of the World.

Select five countries from 5 of the world's continents and record the data for:


Daily calories

Life expectancy

Infant mortality

Literacy rate

Create a report and a scatter plot of calories and life expectancy, calories and infant mortality and calories and literacy rate.

Study the patterns in the table and scatter plots

1. What seems to be the general relationship between the average daily caloric intake and the length of life in the countries you selected?

2. What seems to be the general relationship between the average daily calories and the infant mortality rate?


Your STS Database Project

Create a database with a minimum of 5 fields and 25 records

Topics- any nature of science or technology topic that you want to research public understanding. This may be factual information you want to see if the public understands, or it may be attitudes. Create your questions first and test them out on a few people. The answers you get must be able to be categorized or scaled for the database entry. The questions may also have a numeric answer if you plan to compare fields in a plot. Perhaps age of the participant will be an influential field to add.

STS Database Report- Printed and must include all fields and all records. Must also include references if used. Must contain an analysis of the data that either defines a trend or shows a relationship. Summarize your findings and write a conclusion. Please upload into your folder. You will present your data on the last day of class.

The Educator's View of Science/Technology- STS Books:

Many books on the market today examine and explore issues in science, technology and society. These books may range from topics such as historical/scientific accounts of inventions and discoveries, to the political issues in science and technology and to ethical issues in science and technology. You will select one book from the in-class library and report on the specific points of the book, the contribution the book may have in education and your impressions of your own educational enhancement. See the Books and Journals page for book listings.

There are 2 questions about the book I would like you to answer and post on the bulletin board. The questions are geared more toward interpreting the book from an STS perspective, rather than recounting the story, historical chronology, or content of the book. Since this course is on the nature of science and technology and the role of education in constructing knowledge about these areas..of course the questions follow:

1. What do you feel are the issues at stake in this book? What is the main idea? To write an STS book, there must be some reason, some cloudiness in knowledge or opinion, some dilemma, or some controversy....what is it? Post your impressions of your reading n the bulletin board during the course.

2. What perspectives/ideas/opinions have you been exposed to during the reading of this book that may affect the manner in which you teach, your interaction with students, or your general opinion about science and technology? Have your opinions changed? How can you apply this information to your classroom?

This should be an ongoing dialogue on the bulletin board about your book and its revelations. We will also devote some time in class toward the end of the semester to discuss the books.

Technology Education Links

What is Technology Education?

FAQ about Technology Education

Example of Technology Education at Mondovi High School

Curricullum Framework for Technology

Critical issues in technology education

Technology (computers) and School systemic change

Problem solving in technology education-journal article

Technology Education in Action

Resources for Technology Education

Can electronic communication technology be used to teach about the nature of science?

Research into the place and perception of Technology in the National Curriculum

Linking Technology with Social Studies in the schools