What Science Education in the U.S. Needs, Part I
- December 22, 2014 -

First, happy Holidays from HSI! In the season of thinking of others and also of resolving to improve our selves, we thought it’d be a great time to revisit a story published by the New York Times in September 2013. In it, Claudia Dreifus, a staff science writer asks 19 American educators, scientists, and students what change they’d like to see in science education in the U.S. You can read the full article here.

In the next week we’re going to be highlighting some of the answers Dreifus got that can be addressed using our Student Driven Research. We think our programs and protocols can take science education in the direction that many experts and reformers are hoping it will go. Our methods are already defined and tested; we are making a difference today, and our impact will be magnified by everyone who has been and will be willing to support HSI.

Alright, here we go with some of the highlights from Dreifus’s NY Times article:

Alan I. Leshner, chief executive officer, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“K-12 students need to know the nature of science, how scientists work and the domains and limits of science. Science can’t tell you about God. Or when life begins.”

We know the best way to get students to understand what science is (and what it isn’t) is to have them do real research. HSI believes that this experience works to impart so many critical understandings to students at so many levels that it’s an absolutely critical component of middle- and high-school science education and should become universally incorporated in science curricula around the country.

Freeman A. Hrabowski III, mathematician; president, University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

“When I give talks around the country, I often ask the audience: “How many of you knew you were an English/history type or a math/science type by the time you were in 11th grade?” Almost all the hands go up. And, when I ask why, I often hear, “Because I was better in English.”

The question is: How does someone know that at 15 or 16? The way that math or science works in our lives is not always obvious.

We need to create opportunities to excite students about how math and science connect to real life.”

Our Student Driven Research protocol provides a way to expose students to real science at an age when most kids only have the most vague, general sense of what their, say, Biology or Environmental Science class is preparing them for. In our experience, students who realize the power and relevance of scientific research during our programs “get” what it means for a scientist to answer a question. That’s pretty real life!

Mitzi Montoya, dean, College of Technology and Innovation, Arizona State University.

“If I could change one thing about engineering education — well, actually, all education — it would be to center it around solving real problems and making things. In other words, we ought to be creating innovators and inventors at our engineering schools. They need to be able to do something more than solve theoretical problems when they leave us. In other words, they should learn how to be an applied problem solver, which is not the same thing as being a fantastic book-based equation solver.

None of us learned how to do anything well by being talked at — it’s boring. We learn best by doing — getting our hands dirty and making our own mistakes.”

This response pretty much sums up everything we believe about science education and have attempted to address with our programs! Pretty cool that HSI exists in that place where many education visionaries see science education moving sometime in the future.

Oh, and if you thought these examples were exciting, just wait for the next post, coming soon. Thanks for reading!