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Student Perceptions of Science

What do students think of science? Discover the views of real secondary school students.
Student Perceptions Of Science
© Royal Observatory Greenwich

Whether in a school or on a stage, to teach and communicate effectively, we need to know our audience.

So, we asked some secondary school students (a mix of almost 100 students aged 11-16) to tell us what they thought about science and here’s how they responded.

When asked whether they like science, the majority of students responded ‘Yes’.

Here’s a few things students said they liked about science:

Science is very interesting and fun and you get to do experiments which helps you engage with the topic more.
The fact that there is a definite answer to the questions and it isn’t debatable.
Equips us with the skills to understand the world around us and solve problems.
I like space and learning about the Periodic Table of elements. I also like learning about things such as the Earth.
I like how we learn how things happen and work.

And here’s a few things they told us they didn’t like about science:

Many of the things that we learn in science will probably be invaluable to us when we grow up. This is because science and it’s theories change over time. There is no point learning in class a model of the atom now when it could be completely wrong in about 10 years.
Boring and you need to learn many formulas.
[It’s a] really hard [subject] with so much to learn.
I feel like an unnecessary portion of my life is dedicated to “acceleration=change in velocity/time taken” and don’t think knowing “the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell” is going to help me pay my bills either.
It’s very technical and 90% of the time doesn’t make sense.

When it came to how they felt about science being a compulsory subject at school, 62% were for it.

And here’s what some shared about their experiences of science outside school:

I love science and take lots of interest from it, I have been in my mum’s lab to watch her do various things with samples and testing them and then analysing them, I have done a few more too.
No I don’t have a interest in science outside of school.
I have some interest in science – I watch space documentaries such as ‘The Universe’ on Netflix.
I enjoy it but don’t take part in any out of school science activities.
I have got some interest in science outside of school. What I do is watch YouTube videos about various things. Because I find it interesting to know facts. Also another thing I like to do is read books that contain a lot of interesting content in them.

Are these opinions what you expected?

© Royal Observatory Greenwich
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Physics, Astronomy, and Space: Teaching Secondary Science

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