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Things to come in science

The conference was given a glimpse of what the outline of the science curriculum might look like. Mrs Sweeney said: "As responsible citizens and confident individuals, young people will be expected to acquire knowledge and understanding of the impact of science on human life, society and the environment.

"They will need to develop their confidence to express and justify their views on social, moral, ethical and environmental issues relating to science."

The proposed learning outcomes for science were all in the "I can" format, describing outcomes and experiences:

* "I can talk about how to start and stop objects" (nursery to P1)

* "I can investigate how far objects travel over different surfaces" (P2 to P4);

* "I can describe how vehicles are designed to increasereduce frictiondrag" (P5 to P7);

* "I can describe and explain the performance and safety features of cars, applying and manipulating formulae" (S1 to S3) and;

* "I can express a view on genetically modified plants and animals" (S2 to S3).

But Mick Waters, director of curriculum for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority in England, warned that its attempts to introduce a new science GCSE examination to attract greater interest in the subject had provoked opposition, and that this could happen in Scotland.

Topics such as drug use, sexual health, deforestation, the ozone layer, alternative energy and the impact of mobile phone masts were seen by some traditionalists as dumbing down, he told a seminar at the conference.

"Traditional subject communities said they wanted science back," he said.

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