Intermediate Phase Natural Sciences and Technology

Science as we know it today has roots in African, Arabic, Asian, European and American cultures. It has been shaped by the search to understand the natural world through observation, testing and proving of ideas, and has evolved to become part of the cultural heritage of all nations. In all cultures and in all times people have wanted to understand how the physical world works and have needed explanations that satisfy them.

What is science & technology?

Science is a systematic way of looking for explanations and connecting the ideas we have. In Science certain methods of inquiry and investigation are generally used. These methods lend themselves to replication and a systematic approach to scientific inquiry that attempts at objectivity. The methods include formulating hypotheses, and designing and carrying out experiments to test the hypotheses. Repeated investigations are undertaken, and the resulting methods and results are carefully examined and debated before they are accepted as valid.

The science knowledge we teach at school is not in doubt – most of it has been tested and known since the 1800s – but a good teacher will tell the learners something of the arguments and confusion among the people who were the first to investigate this knowledge. And of course we do touch on some science at the frontiers of the unknown – Why is climate changing around the world? What is making the universe expand? What causes the earth’s magnetic field to change? Nobody knows for sure.

Technology has also existed throughout history. People use the combination of knowledge, skills and available resources to develop solutions that meet their daily needs and wants. Economic and environmental factors and a wide range of attitudes and values need to be taken into account when developing technological solutions. Technology also advances as our knowledge and needs expand.

Technological methods include identifying needs, planning, designing, making and evaluating products. The knowledge and skills used to make stone-age tools are an example of this.

Science and Technology have made a major impact, both positive and negative, on our world. Knowledge grows out of a view of how the world works. One of the differences between modern Science and Technology and traditional, indigenous knowledge systems is that they have their origins in different world views. As with all knowledge, scientific knowledge changes over time as scientists acquire new information and people change their ways of viewing the world.

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Teaching

Careful selection of content, and use of a variety of ways of teaching and learning Science and Technology, should promote understanding of:

  • Science and Technology as activities that sustain enjoyment and curiosity about the world and natural phenomena
  • the history of Science and the relationship between Natural Sciences and Technology and other subjects. Learners should understand the different cultural contexts in which indigenous knowledge systems were developed.
  • the contribution of Science and Technology to social justice and societal development
  • the need for using scientific and technological knowledge responsibly in the interest of ourselves, of societyand the environment
  • the practical and ethical consequences of decisions based on Science and Technology. Natural Sciences and Technology lays the basis of further studies in Science and Technology. It prepares learners for active participation in a democratic society that values human rights and promotes responsibility towards the environment. Natural Sciences and Technology can also prepare learners for economic activity and self- expression.

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