September/October 2005 Table of Contents
of the ASP and Project ASTRO™.
few years, the National Science Board issues a snapshot of the state
of science in the U. S. called Science and Engineering Indicators.
The most recent (2004) volume makes for fascinating reading for
those who enjoy nationwide statistics; it is available free on the
Web at www.nsf.gov/sbe/srs/seind04.
good news is that the public is overwhelmingly positive about science:
say science and technology will make our lives better and our
work more interesting;
say the benefits of research outweigh any harmful results; and
say the government is not spending enough money on science research
(while only 14% say it is spending too much).
bad news is that the public's understanding of science in our country
is disturbingly low. The report concludes that less than 1/5 of
adult Americans can be considered minimally science literate in
the sense required for participation in civic society. Think about
that — 80% of our fellow citizens are not really familiar
with the basic concepts of science needed to vote intelligently
on ballot measures. Only 22% of adults can correctly explain what
a molecule is, for example. And two thirds of adult Americans cannot
correctly explain the scientific method to an interviewer.
also have problems with science ideas. In a recent survey of Wisconsin
school teachers who had signed up for a space-science enrichment
program, fewer than 20% of the elementary teachers and fewer than
25% of the middle school science teachers knew, for example, that
radio waves travel at the same speed as light.
the entire article (pdf format).
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