In Theory: Scientific literacy a necessity

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Basic science courses are important for everyone, adjunct says.

By Mandi Flores

Science is everywhere from drinking water, phones, to weather reports.

A big issue in San Antonio is having a safe and sufficient water supply because the area with 1.3 million people relies mainly on one water source, the Edwards Aquifer.

What is really important is “ground water and how fresh it is,” Dwight Jurena, physical geography and geology adjunct, said Tuesday.

Understanding the water issue in San Antonio requires a basic understanding of science. It is the same for other issues.

“There needs to be an increase in scientific literacy,” Jurena said.

Scientific literacy is the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for scientific thinking.

Having scientific literacy helps in decision-making and the ability to describe and explain natural phenomena.

“Many students who come to apply at this college come in with limited science backgrounds,” Jurena said.

The college core curriculum requires six semester hours of science. The requirement to take a science course with a lab was dropped in 2012-13.

He encourages students to take more than the two courses required for an Associate of Arts degree because they need to understand the world around them.

When students have limited science background and want to start taking science classes “biology and geology are good starter courses, and not math-intensive” Jurena said.

The starter classes are GEOL 1303 and BIOL 1308, which are both lecture classes.

“Another class I recommend is physical geography (GEOL 1301). This is more science-based. It includes meteorology and geology,” Jurena said.

Colleges are focusing on getting more students into science and other technical careers known as STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

The college has a grant to promote STEM, the Adelante Tejas grant, which is $5 million over a period of five years,” Dee Dixon, student success specialist, said.

The grant allows us to “recruit, retain and graduate students from underrepresented groups in science,” Dixon said.

“We partnered with Sul Ross State University because they are known for their field research,” Barbara Knotts, media services chair, said Wednesday.

According to the STEM Education Coalition website, “Only 31 percent of STEM degrees are received by women.”

There are more than 26 million STEM jobs available in the U.S.

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