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Challenged Topics in Science

It's Critical We Teach Good Science

Darwin's Finches

There are several topics in science that have become politicized, and some commentary lacks quality scientific grounding. Topics have been billed as "controversial," though they are not controversies in the science community. Instead, they're better referred to as "challenged" topics, as they're challenged by the lay public for various reasons. As noted in our vision for science learning in Wisconsin, we want all students to "possess sufficient knowledge of science and engineering to engage in public discussions on related issues [and be] careful consumers of scientific and technological information." For that reason, effective instruction on these topics, and understanding bias in information we receive, are important aspects of science learning. Some resources for this work include: 

General resources


Climate Change

Research suggests that many teachers avoid climate change and other topics that can be perceived as controversial. Just talking about it in an honest, evidence-based way makes a big difference. A role play with students using differing views on climate change could be helpful. And, here's a quick video on techniques used in science denial, noting to how to spot these logical fallacies. Finally, here's a "Debunking Handbook" geared to secondary educators to support discussions.

Other reputable resources from around the United States and globally: