A commenter wonders how I would define practical:
I’d be interested to hear your operational definition of practical (not just examples, but the actual criteria by which you decide one subject is ‘practical’ and another is not). Even in talking with you on this blog so far, I haven’t really seen a usable definition; it’s more of a Potter Stewart ‘I’ll know it when I see it’ affair.
You can spend a lifetime reading the scholarship just on [public understanding of science]. My personal favorite is a 1975 article by astrophysicist Benjamin Shen. Shen outlines three categories of science literacy: practical, civic, and cultural. Science in the first category helps people in their daily lives, and includes topics like nutrition, health, and agriculture. The second would help people make informed civic decisions, while the third is in the same spirit as Shakespeare or Greek mythology.
Although you can’t just jump from this theory paper to a curriculum, I found it useful to reflect on. Why exactly do non-scientists need to learn science? What purpose should science education serve for them? What should they learn to meet those goals? I’ll try to gather some more links and references. But if you want to read more, start with George DeBoer’s (long!) discussion on how the definition of science literacy has changed over the years.