Nature of Science & Engineering
Interactions Among Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Society

Men and women throughout the history of all cultures, including Minnesota American Indian tribes and communities, have been involved in scientific inquiry and engineering design.

Benchmark: Contributions of Cultures

Provide examples of how diverse cultures, including natives from all of the Americas, have contributed scientific and mathematical ideas and technological inventions.

For example: Native American understanding of ecology; Lisa Meitner's contribution to understanding radioactivity; Tesla's ideas and inventions relating to electricity; Watson, Crick and Franklin's discovery of the structure of DNA; or how George Washington Carver's ideas changed land use.

Benchmark: Careers

Analyze possible careers in science and engineering in terms of education requirements, working practices and rewards.


Standard in Lay Terms 

MN Standard in lay terms:

Through all of history, humans of every kind have been involved in solving problems and exploring the world through scientific inquiry and engineering design.   There are a wide variety of career choices in science today.

Big Ideas and Essential Understandings 

Big Idea:

Since the beginning of time all people have been involved in solving problems using their knowledge of the natural world.   This applies to all cultures.   In today's society it contributes to a wide variety of possible careers in science and engineering.   These careers should be explored by students.

Benchmark Cluster 

MN Standard Benchmarks:  Provide examples of how diverse cultures, including natives from all of the Americas, have contributed scientific and mathematical ideas and technological inventions.  Analyze possible careers in science and engineering in terms of education requirements, working practices and rewards.


A quote, cartoon or video clip link directly related to the standard.

See this page.


An appreciation of "how we know" what we know in science

The dispositions to use the skills, abilities, and attitudes associated with science.

Science as a human endeavor.

The early Egyptian, Greek, Chinese, Hindu, and Arabic cultures are responsible for many scientific and mathematical ideas and technological inventions. Modern science is    based on traditions of thought that came together in Europe about 500 years ago. People from all cultures now contribute to that tradition. 1C/H1*

Progress in science and invention depends heavily on what else is happening in society. 1C/H3a

History often involves scientific and technological developments. 1C/H3b

  • Benchmarks of Science Literacy

See AAAS Atlas

Common Core Standards (i.e. connections with Math, Social Studies or Language Arts Standards):

Reading standards

RI 1   Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

RI7  Analyze various account of a subject told in different mediums (e.g. a person's life story in both print and multimedia), determining which dtails are emphasized in each account.

Writing Standards

W2  Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas,                 concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

W7  Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or                                   broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

W8  Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital                     sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text                                 selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.


Student Misconceptions 
  • Only western medicine is real medicine
  • People with careers in science must have genius IQ's
  • If you are going to have a career in medicine you are either a doctor (male) or a nurse (female)
  • Boys are better at math and science than girls are.


Today students are directed to the auditorium when they enter the classroom. They will have the opportunity to connect to a major medical institution in town and hear about some of the careers that are available there. The "clinic" is anxious to connect with our students and share some of their career opportunities. They have found that some of their very best talent comes from within our local town and schools.

Guest speakers today include 3-4 very diverse specialties ranging from para-professional jobs such as laboratory technologists, to nursing, physical therapy, surgical technicians and possibly others.   Presentations include short, interesting reviews of their job, the necessary education and pay ranges and opportunities. Students are invited to ask questions and even join them for lunch afterward in the cafeteria.

For many students, even though they have lived their whole life in this town, this is the first opportunity they have had to learn about some of these opportunities from the people that actually do them. Many businesses and institutions are anxious and willing to connect to students and share information on the opportunities they have to offer. They are always on the lookout for potential talent. For some students, this has led to mentorships, summer jobs, and college scholarship opportunities as well as wonderful careers doing something they love.


Instructional Notes 

Instructional suggestions/options:

Stereotypes abound in science as in any other profession.  Care must be taken not to encourage this and high school can have more than it's share of stereotypes.   During laboratories and/or hands on sessions, watch to see that there are no stereotypical behaviors such as boys doing the tinkering and girls standing back taking notes.   Rearrange the laboratory groups to avoid this if possible.

The work of a wide diversity of scientists should be intentially mentioned.   Pictures of scientists on the walls who have similar backgrounds to students can encourage student interest and self efficacy.   Care should be taken, however, that all groups are represented and not just the minorities as this may make the effort seem insincere and actually cause more discrimination.

Guest speakers from a variety of different businesses that employ scientists can be a very valuable asset.   If possible follow-up with student opportunities to job-shadow or are given internships or mentor-ships in order to explore career opportunities and direction.

Selected activities:    Students view the videotape "Photo 57"    (NOVA)

This videotape is the story of Rosalind Franklin, a brilliant young Jewish Woman working inCambridge during the discovery of DNA.  Her research was instrumental in the discovery of the double helix but she was not given credit for her work until well after her death.  Following the movie, students discuss other examples of this type of situation and what can be done to keep it from happening in the future. They may make a wall of diverse scientists as they have pictures and biographies of many on the walls outside or inside the classroom.   STEEP Program  

Depending on the opportunities in the community, students may shadow and/or work with professionals in the area as they explore career types.  One example of this type of activity is the STEEP (Student Teacher Experiential Education Program) which was run by the Mayo Clinic during the summers of 2008, 2009 and 2010. This program allowed for student participation in a summer workshops in which they toured different medical and para medical areas of Mayo Clinic and then talked to representatives from each area as they explored the educational requirements, working practices and rewards of that profession. Teacher's also participated in the workshop and then supported the students in their endeavors as they worked toward taking more high school science and math courses and applying to colleges.

Instructional Resources 

Additional resources or links:

Science Careers from the Journal Science - a search engine for science career information.

Native Americans in Science - website which chronicals the contributions of Native Americans in the fields of science.

DEED Website:  Positively Minnesota, (Department of Employment and Economic Development)

New Vocabulary 


  • Minnesota American Indians - A member of any of the peoples indigenous to the Americas except the Eskimos, Aleuts, and Inuits
  • Engineering Design - A preconceived design intended to create an idea or device to solve a problem.
  • Scientific Inquiry - A method used to discover new things about the world through questioning, observing and possibly experimenting.
  • Scientific Careers - careers and job opportunities in the science and engineering fields. 
Technology Connections 

Skype with professional people in scientific jobs. This is particularly effective if connections can be made in which a professional scientists becomes of a resource for students as they work on research projects.  Resources for these connections include local businesses including medical centers and hospitals.  Many towns have business                           organizations who offer connections with education.

Cross Curricular Connections 

Career Development courses may be a wonderful connection for this standard.  Working closely with the school counselors and their program may also yield positive results.

Social studies and history may link to many of the historical and cultural contributions to science and technology.



Include questions designed to probe student understanding of concepts, both formative and summative.   Identify taxonomic level of questions.

(Formative)  Name two careers in science which you have an interest in.  What level of education is necessary for them? What are the job qualifications?  Where would you work and how much would you be paid?

Answers will vary

(Summative)  Name one scientific contribution from an American Indian scientist and one from another group of your choice.   What were they and who discovered them?

Answers will vary

(Summative)  Divide science into it's disciplines - earth science, life science, physical science -  list three careers for each - one requiring a high school education, one requiring a college education and one requiring an advanced degree.

Answers will vary


3 questions designed to probe teachers understanding of concepts. Questions could be used as self-reflection or in professional development sessions.

1.   Where would you go to find information on a diversity of scientists in various fields?   Make a collection for use in your classroom and in your field of science.

Answers will vary but should include internet searches, websites listed in this document and others.

2.  Are there any jobs more suited to one group of people than another?  Why do you believe this and how might it affect your teaching?  Are there physical limitations and/or qualifications needed for any jobs in science?   How can this be dealt with?

Answers will vary but hopefully will not include discrimination by sex and/or race. Although some jobs may require specialized physical skills such as lifting in many cases advances have been made to compensate for this physical limitation.

3.  What types of alternative medicine are there as opposed to "Western Medicine"?    How can these be incorporated into your teaching?   Is there validity in these?

Answers:   There are many alternative medicines. Some listed may include Asian acupunture, Mayan shamans and many more. These medical practices are based on many years of experience and in many cases have great medical merit. Research is continually being done to learn more about these techniques.


If observing a lesson on this standard what might they expect to see.

Observing a lesson this standard may look a lot like a history lesson. Students will be researching various cultures and their contributions to science. They may also be exploring career options using internet sources, career planning materials and guest speakers.  Ideally there will be field trips involved so that students can see career options on site.


Struggling Learners 

Struggling and At-Risk:

Experience has shown that often when struggling and at-risk students get an opportunity that they truly value, it can make a substantial difference in their lives.   Finding a career goal can be just the motivation needed to continue in their education and achieve at their best.

English Language Learners 

STEEP Program  (Student and teacher Experiential Education Program).    This program is designed to offer immigrant students an opportunity to learn the "ropes" of American career acquisition and identification.   This program could be designed to work with any institution willing to become involved.   In this case, Mayo Clinic was the benefactor.   Students were invited to attend a four week workshop during the summer to explore careers in science and medicine.   The began the program in the high school classroom with a 5 day (3 hours each day) tour through the basics of biological and medical research including a smattering of biotechnology, basic physiology and disease.   The next 3 weeks included 3 days (6 hours per day) in which students toured labs, shadowed professionals, learned to create resumes and do interviews and public speaking and explored the requirements and college experiences needed for a variety of medical careers. For many of these students, this was the needed impetus to return to high school, enroll in honors classes and start applying to and exploring college and technical schools with a definitive direction.

Extending the Learning 


Opportunities abound for gifted and talented students.   Many medical centers and/or environmental centers intern gifted students in mentorships and job-share opportunities.   Sometimes, students may even find hire in summer jobs doing menial jobs for scientists.   Examples include collecting and documenting mussel populations for the DNA or working as a laboratory assistant at a medical research facility.


In the case of immigrants, the problem is not so much ability and education but rather difficulty with the system we often take for granted.   Obtaining scholarships, applying to college and knowing the possibilities are difficult without guidance.   Programs like the STEEP program are instrumental in providing direction and guidance through this quagmire of career possibilities and the necessary means to prepare for them.

Special Education 

These students may not have the same opportunities as gifted and talented students.   For this reason it may be even more important to partner with various organizations and arrange for these opportunities.   Look at all careers in science at every level.   There are many, many interesting opportunities for all students.



Parents can share their own experiences in finding a career and job.  In sharing experiences, however, it is important to take a positive slant on the experience and not to put parental experiences on the expectations of students.  An example would include parents who truly had difficult experiences in math or science and then tell their students that these subjects are difficult and "not fun". Chances are it was the situation and not the subject matter that was the cause of the unpleasant experience. The child's             experience may be totally different but a bias may hurt their opportunity.