Introducing teachers and students to a borderline science

Through the construction and presentation of exhibits on Responsible Research and Innovation both teachers and students are introduced to a different type of science from the one that is usually presented in science classes.

Most of the formal science education focuses on a conventional, non-controversial, established and reliable science. On the contrary, cutting-edge scientific and technological matters highlight a “borderline science”, that is controversial, preliminary, uncertain and under debate. The preparation of exhibits on Responsible Research and Innovation helps learners to see that uncertainty and risk are inherent in scientific and technological enterprises: however strong is the evidence for a theory, there are always possible alternatives; that data on which evidence is based is never certain but always has a degree of error associated with it; that the interpretation of data is influenced by many factors including contemporary knowledge and social context. The production and presentation of exhibits can involve students in inquiry and discussion. The discussion inherent to the preparation of exhibits on Responsible Research and Innovation can be particularly useful both in terms of learning about the contents, the processes and the nature of science and technology, and in terms of the students‘ cognitive, social, political, moral and ethical development (Hammerich, 2000; Kolstø, 2001b; Millar, 1997; Sadler, 2004).


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  • Kolstø, S. (2001). Scientific literacy for citizenship: Tools for dealing with the science dimension of controversial socioscientific issues. Science Education, 85(3), pp. 291-310.
  • Millar, R. (1997). Science education for democracy: What can the school curriculum achieve? In R. Levinson & J. Thomas (Eds.), Science today: Problem or crisis? (pp. 87-101). London: Routledge.
  • Sadler, T. D. (2004). Informal reasoning regarding socioscientific issues: A critical review of research. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41(5), 513-536.