If you package science in a box, wrap it with shiny paper, and stick a bow on top, the world becomes safer.
This is what children want. This is what the parents of children want. This is what we do in kindergarten.
I teach high school. The adult version of science takes you to places that are open and unknown. While I have no problem with teaching safe sex in high school, there is no place for safe science.
Opening up the unknown is frightening to a culture based on immortality. We have a responsibility to teach the truth, to show the limits of what we know, and what we can know.
If you teach science honestly, you will bump into limits. You will skirt the edges of nihilism.
***My students want to know what I believe--I avoid the question. Some think I am a raving Creationist, some think I'm Jewish, many assume I'm Catholic, and a few suspect I am atheist.
(One student asked me if I was a Satanist--I use my index and pinky to signify "two", a habit picked up when I coached Little League, and he misread it as some secret signal. No, I am not a Satanist.)
What I "am" does not matter in the classroom, nor should it.
I start each year explaining that science is about models, stories constructed using specific rules to explain the universe.
I have faith in patterns. Whatever this thing is, it follows rules.
We have been talking about photosynthesis, and the source of oxygen on Earth. Water is split by light, releasing oxygen.
Where did the water come from? Maybe comets, maybe not. Where did that water come from? Shrug. Where did the first cell come from? Shrug. Where did the mass/energy for the Big Bang came from? Shrug. What is mass/energy? Shrug.
I shrug a lot in class. I tell the students to ask their mothers, their rabbis, their priests, their imams, their philosopher kings, the Buddha, the whatever.
I explain that I teach science, and that this is as far as it goes. A few are frightened by this (and I am heartened to see a few see the abyss).
I also tell them they can ask me outside the school if they ever see me (and they do, since I live in town).
No one ever asks. If they do, though....shrug.