• Question: The three sciences all have their positive points, but in which would you most likely benefit from for later life-e.g. post 18, in a career not directly relating to science?

    Asked by mjones to Amy, Drew, Julia, Sara on 22 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Drew Rae

      Drew Rae answered on 22 Jun 2011:

      I presume you are talking about psychology, computer science, and geology? :-). There are a lot more than three sciences.

      Most high school science is about results, not about methods. You will get most benefit from an understanding of the process of science and some basic principles about what is plausible. In that respect it is a good idea to study some science, but it won’t make a huge difference which one you study. It is more important to pick one that interests you, and get the most out of it.

    • Photo: Julia Griffen

      Julia Griffen answered on 22 Jun 2011:

      HA ha drew.. funny one!

      Out of the traditional sciences all bring together key skills that will be useful depends what you want to do..

      So biology is very descriptive, remembering names and describing how the body, cells and systems work together. Its very descriptive. For me biology helped with my writing skills.

      Physics on the other hand, could be described a an application of maths. So its very numerical and involves lots of data handling. Physics will help you build on your maths skills.

      Chemistry I find personally is a blend between the two. You need to be able to describe systems mechanisms and trends. But you also need to be able to use your maths skills as well..

      Any future employer, even if you go into accountancy or sales, will see any of the science subjects as a good thing! Science subject are no easy way out! They are a commitment, its hard work and requires many different sets of skills, organisation, time management, as well as the actual knowledge! ..OOOhh also practical skills, if your going for a manual job you could say your good at planning and organising experiments and recording data!

      Hope that gives some ideas of the skills you can get from science!

    • Photo: Amy MacQueen

      Amy MacQueen answered on 22 Jun 2011:

      Hi mjones!

      This is a brilliant question and one that I think doesn’t really have a clear answer! I really like the intersection between different subjects – you can apply almost any subject to another one – and the integration of things helps us all to learn more. 🙂 So I would have to ask what you are really interested in?

      By looking at your profile I can see that you are interested in becoming a journalist, particularly to do with theatre. That is SO COOL!! 🙂 I have a friend who has gone down this line – she did english as a degree and spent as much time as she could in summers at film festivals across the UK writing short pieces for their newsletters and updates!

      If your school is anything like mine you have to take at least one science subject at GCSE level…and possibly one at a higher level than that. I would say to keep your options as broad as possible for as long as possible. So take a wide range of subjects (those that you NEED for the career you are interested in and also some others).

      Mainly I think do what you enjoy – as Julia said Physics is very maths-y so if you are not a big fan of maths I would steer clear of it. Chemistry is a good balance of maths, practical experiments and general application learning usually and Biology is the study of all things living!! At the school level Biology involves a lot of remembering – i.e. Physics you learn equations and then apply them, Biology is a lot more broad remembering and then using that in some applications.

      Really what I would say is do what is most interesting to you! That way you will enjoy it and do better at it. We can’t predict what is going to be the most help to us in the future but a bit of science knowledge will definitely help you as a journalist! If you were thinking about sports journalism it often involves injury so Biology might be best to give you some basic knowledge but really its a difficult call!

      What kind of theatre do you like? I went to see the Lion King and Les Miserables recently in London and booked tickets last night to see the live version of “Yes, Prime Minister”…the theatre is a brilliantly interesting and eclectic place!

      Hope it all goes well for you! 🙂

    • Photo: Sara Imari Walker

      Sara Imari Walker answered on 22 Jun 2011:

      Hello mjones!! Wow, great question! There is some really cool discussion going on for this one!

      Drew is right, science is much broader than just three disciplines. And I really agree with Amy’s perspective – the most interesting science is usually at the intersection of the traditional disciplines. For example, I study astrobiology – its an intersection of physics, chemistry, biology, geology, engineering etc. (we even have people like biogeochemists! say that one ten times fast!). So I look at science not so much as separate subjects but more as a cohesive way of thinking about the world that’s allows us to try to understand it in a lot of different ways (i.e. through study of biology, chemistry, and physics).

      So, I think when you are learning science it is not so much about the facts but about the way you are being taught to think critically about the world around you and to try to figure it out for yourself! The facts are fun, but ultimately its the ability to do complex analytic thinking that gives us our greatest strengths as scientists! And that is something you can use in ANY discipline. In particular, if you aim to be a journalist, thinking critically is key!! You’ll have to be able to figure out the truth in a story and make connections – maybe to relate the theater to things of relevance to your readers lives, who knows where it can take you!

      So, I think any of the sciences are great for teaching you HOW to think. I may be biased but I think physics is the best for this. Physics is not about math, physics is about approaching the world with a set of tools (which are mostly mathy tools) and trying to figure out at the most basic level what is going on. It teaches you to think in a very critical way – that’s very empowering. With it you can think about any problem! So, I recommend physics, but if the math turns you off biology and chemistry are fantastic subjects too! Also, sometimes you can take something like a “non-calculus based” physics class if you can find one. That could be fun! I also think astronomy is a great class to take – so many amazing things out there in the universe to learn about – you wouldn’t believe!!

      Cool you want to write up about the theater – science and theater sometimes come out with happy consequences. I was recently in a show call “Matter of Origins” as a provocateur. The show was about scientific origins stories and we got to have tea and talk with the public. I wasn’t sure about it beforehand, I had never hear of anything like it before, but it was really really fun!! Maybe you can combine interest in science, journalism and theater in new and engaging ways! Best of luck!