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What can we do to help improve science education in the US?

 
 
Reply Thu 20 Feb, 2003 10:27 pm
Education in general, and science in particular, are key components to the health of US culture (and others). But basic science knowledge, and even the fundamental process of science, seems to be lacking in many students and adults. This is beneficial to those who sell magnetic ionized techno-junk insoles for your shoes to keep your feet healthy. And for those who sell astrology charts and psychic readings, but other than that, it has little benefit to society. What can be done?

Thanks Smile
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Type: Discussion • Score: 3 • Views: 22,586 • Replies: 366
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maxsdadeo
 
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Reply Thu 20 Feb, 2003 10:48 pm
If we give up the Lie that evolution is "scientific fact" and stop calling people who recognize the lie as "stupid and misinformed", that would be a good start.

The scientific community today would have turned Albert Einstein, creationist physicist, into a podiatrist.
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littlek
 
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Reply Thu 20 Feb, 2003 10:52 pm
And there ends any discussion on the matter.
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maxsdadeo
 
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Reply Thu 20 Feb, 2003 11:55 pm
But I don't WANT to go to bed yet, little k!!

A change of emphasis and attitude would do wonders.

Egypt, the land of the pyramids, holds in extremely high esteem engineers, treating them as we do doctors.

Knowing this, it isn't such a wonder how those things got built.

What wonders could we lay claim to in the future if we just emulated the Egyptians and changed our attitude about careers in Science?
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littlek
 
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Reply Thu 20 Feb, 2003 11:57 pm
I have no idea what you're getting at. And, I do want to go to bed. Nitol.
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roger
 
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Reply Fri 21 Feb, 2003 12:03 am
I was in junior high school when the Russians launched the first Sputnik, and boy, did we jazz up the educational system. For all the substance to the changes, though, we might just as well scrapped the grading system. Instead of A,B,C,D, & F we could have installed T,D,S,P, & L, for Tops, Dandy, So-So, Punk, & Lousy. We felt better about it, though.
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rosborne979
 
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Reply Fri 21 Feb, 2003 06:57 am
Hi Roger, What did they do after sputnik to "jazz up" the educational system? And was it the jazzed up changes which improved things, or was it a change in social awareness which recognized the need to compete for survival?

Hi Max, I was referring more to the process of science and critical thinking than I was to any particular aspect of scientific knowledge.
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maxsdadeo
 
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Reply Fri 21 Feb, 2003 08:21 am
ros: I was also referring to scientific process and critical thinking.

The perpetuation of the Evolution theory as fact is the Flat Earth society of today.

And it puts critical thinking and the scientific process in a very dim light.

I realize that many find it uncomfortable to hear this view point, but true science says we have a hypothesis, we retain that hypothesis until it is proven wrong.

It is time for the scientific community to come clean and realize that the Evolutionary Emperor is nekkid as a jay bird.

Welcome to A2K by the way!!
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roger
 
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Reply Fri 21 Feb, 2003 08:49 am
That was my point on the (fictitious) T,D,S,P, & L grading system, rosborne. There were really no changes of substance. Honors classes suddenly acquired a bonus grade point, science and math courses earned an extra grade point, and an honors science class acquired two extra points. The intent was to lure students into particular classes with extra points on the gpa. The real result was confusion on the actual grades earned by someone with a GPA of 4.0.
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JamesMorrison
 
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Reply Fri 21 Feb, 2003 10:17 am
maxsdadeo, in your post of Fri Feb 21, 2003 9:21 am you state:

"It is time for the scientific community to come clean and realize that the Evolutionary Emperor is nekkid as a jay bird. "

What exactly do you mean by that by that?

JM
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JamesMorrison
 
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Reply Fri 21 Feb, 2003 05:54 pm
I once had a course in High School back in the year one called "Civics". Civics was a multifaceted course and one part dealt with advertising in the media both print and Radio/TV. We looked into and investigated advertising claims. This was a good exercise for anybody who was interested in a science career or even politics or diplomacy. We learned how to read between the lines of what the Ad was actually saying or more importantly what it was implying but not saying. My Favorite phrase was "Guaranteed or your money back". Sounds great! What do you have to lose? But what, exactly, is guaranteed? Oh and how about this? "You won't find a better widget on the market!" This, of course, implies that one could find a widget of comparable quality at perhaps a cheaper price.

My point is that it would be beneficial if we were able to develop a mandatory course or courses in grade school and more comprehensive courses in High School that could teach the use of analytical thinking, logic, and paying close attention to what is claimed in various debatable subjects. Some type of "Comparative Theory Analysis". This could be adapted for different levels and avenue of studies (more intensive for those pursuing scientific or professional studies). It can be done.

I would like to make a comment that I know might be politically incorrect but that I feel strongly about. I have noticed that we have, in American society, dumbed down or lowered our expectations of our young people. There has been a growing tendency to give out awards to younger people in competitions just for showing up, tendencies in our schools to rearrange the requirements of a course so those that do homework get a leg up in their grades whether or not they understand the subject matter, and the down playing of personal responsibility, which is manifest in people suing a restaurant for serving the "Hot" coffee that they ordered for being "Too Hot". This comes across as to me as if we are whining to our children and each other that "Its not my fault and somebody should be responsible and pay me money for being stupid". I know I am ranting but I think there might be a problem that may not fully manifest itself until it is too late in our competition with other nations in technological arenas.

JM
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JamesMorrison
 
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Reply Fri 21 Feb, 2003 06:16 pm
roger,

I know what you are talking about. My son's senior class had students with overall grade averages of 102% and 103%. Apparently the administration of the school believes those athletic non-truisms of someone giving 150% effort in a game. The effect of this grading system was ludicrous. My son had an overall B+ average and SAT scores of 1300 and he was listed in the BOTTOM half of his class! I spoke with College admission officers who were not fooled by this so, what's the point? Just another symptom of the mind set of our school system that I mentioned in my post of Fri Feb 21, 2003 6:54 pm .

JM
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blacksmithn
 
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Reply Fri 21 Feb, 2003 08:07 pm
JamesMorrison--I know it's off-topic, but bear with me for a bit. It's interesting that you talk about being made more "media savvy" (for want of a better term) by your Civics class, indicating by your extremely valid examples that things may not always be as they are portrayed. You then segue into a further example of a "too hot" coffee lawsuit as a failure to accept responsibility. I'm presuming you're referring to the now infamous MacDonald's coffee suit. Further investigation would lead one to conclude that it's really something of an urban myth. As portrayed in the popular media, this lady was driving down the street, attempting to pry the lid off her fresh cuppa joe when the contents emptied (big surprise!) into her lap. The true facts are somewhat different.

The woman wasn't the driver, she was a passenger. The car was parked at the time of the incident. MacDonalds had numerous prior complaints (approximately 700) from consumers about the coffee being too hot for human consumption (about 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit-- 40 to 50 degrees hotter than what comes from an ordinary coffeepot and substantially hotter than even other restaurants serve). MacDonalds knew the coffee was being served dangerously hot and indicated even after the accident and at trial that they intended to continue to do so. The victim, a 79 year old woman, suffered second and third degree burns on her thighs, perineum, buttocks and genitals. She was hospitalized for 8 days and required debridement and skin grafts. MacDonalds turned down a pretrial settlement offer of $20,000. The jury awarded the victim $200,000, which was reduced to $160,000 because they found her to be 20% at fault. They awarded punitive damages in the amount of 2.7 million (about 2 days of MacDonalds coffee sales profits) which was reduced by the judge to $480,000, or three times the compensatory award, even though the judge characterized MacDonalds conduct as reckless, callous and wilful. Post trial investigation revealed that the local MacDonalds responsible had subsequently reduced the temperature of their coffee to 158 degrees. MacDonalds thereafter entered into a secret settlement agreement with the victim.

It's fascinating to me that this particular case has entered into the popular mythos, with a substantial assist from an irresponsible and lazy press, as a clear example of a "frivolous" lawsuit brought by a money grubbing plaintiff and/or unscrupulous attorneys. Truly, as you stated, you can't always believe what you're fed by the media.

I apologize for the digression.
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dyslexia
 
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Reply Fri 21 Feb, 2003 08:38 pm
blacksmithn' thanks, i had read the same info and wondered why the press did not report the real story but i guess it wouldn't sell papers.
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maxsdadeo
 
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Reply Fri 21 Feb, 2003 08:39 pm
Shocked
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maxsdadeo
 
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Reply Fri 21 Feb, 2003 08:56 pm
blacksmithn: You are correct sir!

Lizard King: I enjoyed reading your posts, they were very insightful.

As for what I meant, It is apparent to a growing number of people that what was first purported to be a theory, and has slowly, due to repetition, been ingrained into the public's brain stem as incontrovertable fact, is a lie.


Thanks for asking.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 Feb, 2003 07:48 am
To the meat of the question, from an outsider looking in (i.e. someone that isn't in the middle of the educational system) it seems that we've diversified education way to much.

It used to be that everyone got pretty much the same solid core of knowledge through elementary and high school and then those that went on to college specialized at that level. That specialization seems to have creeped down through the years. First through high school and now into the elemtary schools. There seems to be a push to educate our children for the latest and greatest in high-tech jobs from day one (even though most will never work in high-tech..) in their educational experience (and that isn't limited to the sciences..) at the expense of a solid gounding in general science. To listen to some people talk you think "college prep" should be on the standard pre-school agenda..

There is no reason for a 6th grade student having 8 different science courses to choose from. The available course listings from your average high school is at least as long as many colleges. That means those schools have to have teachers, facilities and course materials for every one of those courses. To get there they spread themselves to thin and, IMO, all of the courses suffer because of it. Instead of a core of knowledge being passed on we have bits and pieces and we lose as a society because of that.

Get the elemtary and high schools back to the basics and leave the specializations for post-high school education/training.
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JoanneDorel
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 Feb, 2003 09:32 am
Rosborne979 this topic has been the subject of consternation since Sputnik went up in 1957. And the debate continues. When my daughter was in high school, Fairfax County, Virginia, the answer was to turn one high school in the County, Thomas Jefferson into school for Science and Technology. However, entrance requirements are strict and only those with the best grades are allowed to attend. In my view it is difficult to tell who will be successful in science in middle school. The need to educate and create interest should start in kindergarten.

It seems our schools concentrate more on control and contain than education. Yes we have had some tragic consequences because of out of control students but to crack down so hard on all schools seems to me to dim the light of knowledge.

http://www.tjhsst.edu/
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JamesMorrison
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 Feb, 2003 10:50 am
blacksmithn
As Re your post of Fri Feb 21, 2003 9:07 pm where your statement begins:

"The woman wasn't the driver, she was a passenger. The car was parked at the time..."

Seems I have heard this myth explanation before about the victim of "Too Hot Coffee" on another forum, complete with: " it was not the driver it was the passenger". I never said in this forum it was the driver, which leads me to believe this latter passage was recycled from that older reply. All the truths you recite are fine but please do not interpret my next question as a lack of sympathy for the elderly ladies plight.

So What?

How do any of the after the fact details change the fact that this individual simply voluntarily opened a cup of hot coffee in her lap and spilled it? All the horrid details flowed from that single voluntary act. What caused the damage was not the temperature so much as the fact that the coffee soaked into her clothes and continued to distribute heat to her body until they ripped off her clothes. Did those in the car try to mitigate the damage by taking off her pants? She knew the coffee was hot and chose to open it in her lap.
Good news on this same front. The same group of lawyers that help win the "coffee" case went to court to sue fast food restaurants for making their client fat. The courts told the lawyers to get lost. Remember who pays the legal bills and damage awards, it is not McDonalds, the lawyers, or the courts it is ultimately us.

Respectfully, JM

P.S. rosborne I don't want to hijack your thread so I will shut up about this now!
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steissd
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 Feb, 2003 11:15 am
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