The National Academy of Sciences is a great source for information about the status of science research and education in the U.S. The National Research Council (NRC) releases guidelines and frameworks for all aspects of education among other things. In 2011, NRC released a framework for K-12 science education (although all STEM sources are talked about).
The NRC committee’s has two major goals for K-12 science education:
- educating all students in science and engineering
- provide the foundational knowledge for those who will become the scientists, engineers, technologists, and technicians of the future.
The report also divides science education into three dimensions:
- Crosscutting Concepts
- Disciplinary Core Ideas
Practices for K-12 Science Classrooms
- Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
- Develop and use models
- Planning and carrying out investigations
- Analyzing and interpreting data
- Using mathematics and computational thinking
- Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
- Engaging in argument from evidence
- Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
Engaging students in the actual practice of science and engineering helps them understand how scientific knowledge develops. It also gives them an appreciation for the complexity of the process. It can pique their “curiosity, capture their interest, and motivate their continued study.”
Bayer Co. began a survey of science education. A report released this year summarizes the data from 15 years of public opinion on STEM.
In summary, 15 universal beliefs emerged:
- Science literacy is critical for all Americans young and old, scientist or non-scientist
- U.S. global economic leadership and competitiveness are intrinsically linked to a robust science and technology innovation pipeline and workforce.
- America’s future STEM leadership is dependent on the country’s ability to recruit and retain more women, African-Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians (underrepresented minorities) in STEM fields.
- Improving science education for all students – especially girls and underrepresented minorities (URMs) – should be a national priority and begin at the earliest possible elementary school level since that’s where the STEM workforce truly begins.
- Science interest and ability are color-blind and gender-neutral: from an early age, boys and girls of all races and ethnic backgrounds are interested in science.
- Parents and teachers are critically important to nurturing children’s science interest, even if they themselves are not scientists or don’t have all the answers.
- In elementary school, science should be the “4th R” and given the same emphasis as reading, writing, and mathematics.
- A hands-on, minds-on approach to science education is the best way for students to learn science and build crucial science literacy skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, and the ability to work in teams.
- The nation’s colleges and universities should revitalize pre-service teacher education in science.
- The nation’s in-service teachers should be given the tools and ongoing professional development required to be the best science teachers they can be.
- Students and teachers benefit from having direct access to scientists and engineers on a regular basis in the classroom.
- America’s leading research colleges and universities should rethink how they define academic success when it comes to undergraduate STEM students.
- For corporate America, STEM workforce diversity benefits the corporate bottom line by bringing a range of thought, skills and problem solving to the table.
- America’s STEM industries and communities need to more effectively communicate with all of today’s students about a range of issues including job opportunities and the fact that they are wanted and needed in these jobs.
- It will take a village to improve science education in this country and all stakeholders have a responsibility and a role to play.
I am a physics admirer. I wish I were smart enough to go into physics. Even though I’m not a physicist, I understood the premise of LHC from the get go. However, do you recall in 2008 the court injunction to stop the collider from powering up? Some of the public thought smashing protons at that energy would create black holes (low velocity micro black holes to be exact) that would swallow the planet. Researchers at CERN even received death threats. It took public support for safety reviews by both the Executive Committee of the Division of Particles and Fields (DPF) of the American Physical Society (APS) and the Committee for Elementary Particle Physics (KET) before the hysteria settle enough to proceed.
Does the above scenario sound similar to the upcoming doomsday, aka Friday December 21, 2012? (Great article about Dr. David Morrison of NASA and the end of the Mayan calendar cycle)
You would think with each senseless myth being debunked by logic and science, the masses would begin to understand that scientists and engineers 1) know what they are talking about and 2) would be the first to let everyone know that something bad was going to happen (ie climate change 20 years and counting).
The first LHC protons run ends with new milestone.
Remembering Lamar Alexander as Governor of Tennessee, then President of the University of Tennessee, then U.S. Secretary of Education; the man has always been an advocate for education. Great article to read…
The report referred to in the article is an eye-opener. The fact the council has 10 recommendations gives you the sense a lot needs to happen for the U.S. to remain a leader in innovation through its R&D universities.
Major threats to our research universities – Sen. Lamar Alexander and Hunter Rawlings III – POLITICO.com.