Why should one study science?

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By Matthew Judah, Contributor

A couple of weeks ago someone asked me why I think studying science is so important. I began to answer their question with my usual answer, “It teaches people to think critically and to solve problems.” However, as I thought about it, I realized that was not a good reason to learn anything. It is a beneficial outcome of learning science, but not the reason why people should want to begin studying it.
I admit that I am okay at science classes, but when you spend ten hours on four physics problems, you start to wonder, “What is the point of it all?” and “What exactly am I getting out of it?”  Not to mention all the math before you can even begin to understand some of the concepts. It started to seem like an exercise in futility because if I couldn’t think of a good reason why I would want to take science classes, why should I expect anybody else to?
So, I asked a simpler question: Why did I choose to study science? Nobody held me at gunpoint and made me choose a physics major; nobody blackmailed me into these scheduled classes. So obviously, at some point, I made a conscious decision to subject myself to the study of science.
Then I realized, no matter how difficult the classes were, no matter how much I learned or have left to learn, science is awesome. What other classes can teach you about how stars form, how we see color, how plants create oxygen or how to send people to another planet?  Even though the tools needed to answer these questions can be difficult, tedious or even boring, eventually the understanding one can gain puts a whole new value into our own lives and the environment with which we interact.
This is why we should teach science to children and adults as they go through their schooling and even after they graduate. The things we have learned and will learn through the scientific method are astounding and help to give us perspective on our entire lives. Through science we begin to see the connections between all things and why our own existence is important. Science should be a part of everyone’s education.  Without this discipline, as well as imagination and creativity, being valued by our community, I worry about our future as a people.  Science isn’t about telling people the answers, it’s about asking the questions and doing the work to understand more, together.
 

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