To understand what is meant by science literacy, it is useful first to consider what is meant by literacy more generally. There are two ways in which literacy can be conceptualized. In one form it connotes “learnedness.” Someone who is literate is someone who has received an education and has a wide range of knowledge and awareness of art, literature, politics, and, perhaps, science. The second meaning is more specific. Being literate means being able to read and write. Insofar as it relates to science and the public, science literacy is concerned with the ability of citizens to read about, comprehend, and express opinions about science. Sometimes used synonymously with the term “public understanding of science,” a useful definition might be “the understanding of scientific ...

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