C. Vasconcelos1, T. Ribeiro2, M.L. Vasconcelos3, S. Ferraz4

1Faculty of Sciences of Porto University, IES-Porto (PORTUGAL)
2Faculty of Sciences of Porto University (PORTUGAL)
3University Fernando Pessoa (PORTUGAL)
4Secundary Scholl Fontes Pereira de Melo (PORTUGAL)
The main goal of this study was to diagnose the level of scientific literacy among students of Sciences and Humanities regarding the use of minerals in everyday life products. Indeed, our everyday life has always required the use of minerals, and technological advances have allowed tiny amounts of certain elements to be extracted from the crystalline network of minerals so as to combine them into alloys for specific purposes. Whenever we drink a glass of water, or look at the time, give a call to someone or take a tablet, we are in contact with products that have use minerals, or their derivatives, in their manufacturing process. The impacts of human activity on planet Earth have been worsening in the last few centuries, especially following the industrial revolution, that increased our dependence on natural resources.Within this context, this study resorted to a validated questionnaire and conducted a survey asking students to associate minerals (or chemical elements extracted from minerals) to products frequently used. A convenience sample was used gathering 100 students (n=100) attending a secondary school located in the city of Oporto - North of Portugal. The inquired had an age range between 15 and 18 (average = 16.0). The students that participated in this study attended either the Science and Technology course (n=57) or the Language and Humanities course (n=43). The majority was enrolled in the eleventh grade (n = 57). Both groups learned about geological issues in two different school subjects: Science students attended Biology and Geology, and students of Humanities attended Geography. Note that the study of the use of minerals in daily products is not compulsory in neither of these subjects. The average age of students in the sample was sixteen. Following the data collection, results were analyzed by resorting to descriptive statistics and to the independent chi-square test. Significant differences were found regarding specialization and age. Science students presented a higher number of correct answers. The only non-significant difference that was found was related to the correspondence between gold and wedding rings (chi square=8.310;p=0.140). No significant differences were found regarding gender. Science students surveyed in this study showed a significant scientific literacy regarding the presence of geology in our daily life (with an average of correct answers of 80.8%). However, students of Humanities showed a reduced scientific literacy (with an average of correct answers of 28.5%) regarding that very same topic. Although both groups of students dealt with several contents related to this subject in Biology and Geology, and in Geography, the results are far from good, especially with regard to students of Humanities. This indicates that the approach to the topic is being timid or ineffective.These results reinforce the need to incorporate this theme (of the use of minerals in everyday life) in the curriculum, thereby benefiting the scientific literacy of Humanities (but also Science) students.