Welcome! This page provides some perspectives regarding goals of science and technology and strategies that scientists and engineers may use for achieving their goals. It must be stressed, however, that the goals and strategies described here - like those in many other resources - are highly stereotypical. Actual goals and practices in science and technology are highly personal and contextual - dependent on myriad, often interacting and unpredictable, situational variables. It is, therefore, problematic to suggest that they ever can be accurately defined, described and modelled. Nevertheless, it has been my experience that keeping many of the goals and strategies below in mind can be helpful. Individuals can choose from amongst them — and others — in ways unique to who they are as inquirers and developers and according to the aforementioned situational variables affecting knowledge building in science and technology. If you have comments, questions, suggestions, resource ideas, etc. about anything here, please write to me about them. Thanks.
Sci. vs. Tech.
|There is some controversy regarding distinctions between goals and purposes of 'science' and 'technology.' Many people claim that 'science' is responsible for what others consider to be products of technology, such as various medications. People talk about 'medical science' giving rise to many 'wonder drugs,' for example. Underlying this idea, perhaps, is an assumption technology cannot develop products (such as medications) without products of science (e.g., conceptions of chemical structures). This is an issue regarding relationships between science and technology, about which some ideas and resources are provided through STSE Ed. The question remains, however, as to how to distinguish 'science' from 'technology.' Many people feel that they are quite different.|
|Often, investigators with a 'scientific' goal
aim to document and explain existing
cause-effect (result) relationships that exist naturally.
Using the relationships modelled in figure 1, a
'scientific' goal regarding mushrooms, for
example, could be to explain (using
hypotheses at first) how different soil
types (a 'cause variable') affect mushroom
weight gain (a 'result variable'). Those with a 'technological'
goal, however, want to change causes &
effects in order to create desired (and unnatural)
results. A 'technological'
goal regarding mushrooms might be to
create conditions ('cause variables') that get
them to grow as big (or small, depending on how much people
like mushrooms) as possible (a 'result
||Figure 1: Cause-Result Relationships in S&T.|
is the view, however, that science and technology are
quite similar. At a very general level, both fields
aim to develop conceptions (ideas) that may be useful. The
Particle Theory, which is a typical product of
science, can be useful for making predictions about
effects of air pressure on balloon size, for example.
That is not unlike a pair of sunglasses (for example),
which is a typical product of technology, which has
its obvious uses. Related to that, both fields also
perform various empirical tests (e.g., experiments) in
order to gain evidence for claims about their
products. Indeed, as suggested below, many of the
strategies scientists and technologists employ are not
that different. Nevertheless, the controversy remains
— and, consequently,
people have to judge for themselves how science and
technology compare. This may or may not be a crucial
issue; but, it is a subject of debate amongst many
who study these fields.
|As suggested above,
many people believe that goals and purposes of science
& technology are similar. This also appears to be true
that scientists and engineers use to achieve their goals — as suggested by the model in figure 2 (below) and in my
and set of skills objectives.
Admittedly, this model is a stereotypical representation of strategies
that scientists and engineers may use. Their strategies
to be, for instance, nearly so step-wise as the model in
figure 2 suggests. Also, the model in figure 2 is,
necessarily, highly incomplete. Much of what scientists
and engineers do is, for example, tacit
— and, therefore, something that cannot
be included in a diagram or set of educational objectives.
Related to this is the idea that strategies that each
scientist or engineer chooses is highly personal or
'idiosyncratic.' Scientists and engineers are not — obviously —
Strategies they choose may depend, for example, on
their psychological make-up, particular
genetically-determined or experientially-acquired
talents, particular social and cultural pressures,
etc. These sorts of factors pertain the nature of
science and technology (NoST) and relationships
amongst sciences, technologies, societies and
environments — ideas and resources for which are
provided threough: NoST Ed
and STSE Ed.
Given the idiosyncratic and contextual
nature of knowledge building, it also must be noted that
the framework in figure 2 is a product of my particular
idiosyncracies and environmental influences. Educators
should, therefore, consider many other such frameworks
when planning and evaluating students' procedural
education. Some of these are available at Curriculum.
important limitations of the model in figure 2 below, I
suggest that it is useful as a starting point for
considering the nature of knowledge building in science
& technology. It could be used, for example, to
stimulate discussions surrounding strategies that
scientists and engineers may sometimes use. From the top to
the bottom of the model, for example, actions (also
called 'strategies,' 'skills' and 'processes') on the
'Science' side (left) may be similar to those on the
'Technology' (right) side. Questions that 'scientists' ask, for
example, are comparable to problems that 'Technologists' note — in
that both may involve
cause - result relationships. A typical
cause-result 'science' question about mushrooms, for
example, would be: 'How do changes in soil type affect
mushroom growth?' Similarly, a typical
'technology'/'engineering' cause-result problem would
be, 'What can we do to soil to prevent mushrooms from
growing?' Similarly, predictions that 'scientists' make
are similar to solutions 'technologists' generate. A
'scientist' could, for instance, predict that mushroom
growth in different soil types would vary according to
the organic content of soils. A 'technologist,'
meanwhile, could predict that increased amounts of a
certain chemical (e.g., a herbicide) should repress
growth of mushrooms. Empirical tests to which
'scientists' and 'engineers' subject their ideas often
are quite similar, both employing experiments and
studies, for example.
Figure 2: Stereotypical Model of Strategies Used in Science & Technology/Engineering.
|Although there may be these sorts of similarities between science & technology, it also must be acknowledged that there are significant differences between them, as well. For example, interactions with societies and environments may be more significant for 'technology' than for 'science' (assuming the two fields are unique and separate — which I happen to doubt). Along similar lines, ways in which fields of science & technology interact with each other also may vary. For further discussions and resources related to these issues, refer to NoST Ed and STSE Ed.|