Literacy is important in students’ development of Science Inquiry Skills and their understanding of content presented through the Science Understanding and Science as a Human Endeavour strands. Students gather, interpret, synthesise and critically analyse information presented in a wide range of genres, modes and representations (including text, flow diagrams, symbols, graphs and tables). They evaluate information sources and compare and contrast ideas, information and opinions presented within and between texts. They communicate processes and ideas logically and fluently and structure evidence-based arguments, selecting genres and employing appropriate structures and features to communicate for specific purposes and audiences.
Numeracy is key to students’ ability to apply a wide range of Science Inquiry Skills, including making and recording observations; ordering, representing and analysing data; and interpreting trends and relationships. They employ numeracy skills to interpret complex spatial and graphic representations, and to appreciate the ways in which Earth systems are structured, interact and change across spatial and temporal scales. They engage in analysis of data, including issues relating to reliability and probability, and they interpret and manipulate mathematical relationships to calculate and predict values.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability is a key part of Science Inquiry Skills. Students use a range of strategies to locate, access and evaluate information from multiple digital sources; to collect, analyse and represent data; to model and interpret concepts and relationships; and to communicate and share science ideas, processes and information. Through exploration of Science as a Human Endeavour concepts, students assess the impact of ICT on the development of science and the application of science in society, particularly with regard to collating, storing, managing and analysing large data sets.
Critical and creative thinking is particularly important in the science inquiry process. Science inquiry requires the ability to construct, review and revise questions and hypotheses about increasingly complex and abstract scenarios and to design related investigation methods. Students interpret and evaluate data; interrogate, select and cross-reference evidence; and analyse processes, interpretations, conclusions and claims for validity and reliability, including reflecting on their own processes and conclusions. Science is a creative endeavour and students devise innovative solutions to problems, predict possibilities, envisage consequences and speculate on possible outcomes as they develop Science Understanding and Science Inquiry Skills. They also appreciate the role of critical and creative individuals and the central importance of critique and review in the development and innovative application of science.
Personal and social capability is integral to a wide range of activities in Earth and Environmental Science, as students develop and practise skills of communication, teamwork, decision-making, initiative-taking and self-discipline with increasing confidence and sophistication. In particular, students develop skills in both independent and collaborative investigation; they employ self-management skills to plan effectively, follow procedures efficiently and work safely; and they use collaboration skills to conduct investigations, share research and discuss ideas. In considering aspects of Science as a Human Endeavour, students also recognise the role of their own beliefs and attitudes in their response to science issues and applications, consider the perspectives of others, and gauge how science can affect people’s lives.
Ethical understanding is a vital part of science inquiry. Students evaluate the ethics of experimental science, codes of practice, and the use of scientific information and science applications. They explore what integrity means in science, and they understand, critically analyse and apply ethical guidelines in their investigations. They consider the implications of their investigations on others, the environment and living organisms. They use scientific information to evaluate the claims and actions of others and to inform ethical decisions about a range of social, environmental and personal issues and applications of science.
Intercultural understanding is fundamental to understanding aspects of Science as a Human Endeavour, as students appreciate the contributions of diverse cultures to developing science understanding and the challenges of working in culturally diverse collaborations. They develop awareness that raising some debates within culturally diverse groups requires cultural sensitivity, and they demonstrate open-mindedness to the positions of others. Students also develop an understanding that cultural factors affect the ways in which science influences and is influenced by society.