One of the goals I, personally, placed in the “major” category for the importance of teaching chemistry was to give students the opportunity to experiment and think critically. Science, and chemistry specifically, lends itself quite well to hands-on activities where the outcome is unknown and often quite interesting. Students must first make hypotheses about what they believe will happen, thus activating prior knowledge, and then perform the experiment carefully to determine an outcome, following a procedure. They then are able to make changes, reflect to see what went well and what could have been improved, and extend their knowledge from the experiment to understand why it is important in the greater world. These skills work for simple day to day activities such as following a recipe and doing homework all the way up to making big life decisions, and changing these decisions a million more times before it’s right. As adults, students will have to experiment in any job to see what works, perhaps in a less formal setting, and will have to make decisions that could affect a large number of people. Guiding students to these skills will enable them to use them continuously throughout life.
I think society as a whole thinks learning science is most important for technological advancement and product development. Where would we be without all the medical and pharmaceutical advancement, among other things, without chemistry and science? I feel that if I asked a classroom full of students why science is important, a lot of their answers would center around the creation of new things or understanding past events. These are important skills for students as well and if even one of my students can further develop a past scientific theory or create something life-altering in the future, I would not be more proud! Also, as “The Place of Science in the Curriculum” mentions, scientific literacy is important for everyone, so that they understand the world around them, regardless of career.