Science Crisis and Community Participation

10 January 2013 by Kelly Burnes, posted in Education

Hands-on Science Approach for Communities

I have been reading a few research papers concerning the state of science education, both nationally and internationally. One paper out of Australia had mentioned they were experiencing a "science crisis". Granted, this paper from the Australian Council for Educational Research was published in 2007. We hear about STEM here in the US every now and again. And in fact, we will probably hear less of it since that monster truck marathon election from last year is behind us. Maybe Fox News should start reporting on Science Crisis 2013. It is definitely an urgent priority from my point of view. How severe is it? Looking at standardized tests could provide some answers. Looking at the number of students entering college to study scientific disciplines is another. But perhaps we should zoom in and focus the lens a little more clearly at the community level.

What is the missing link? We can't ask this question and expect a definitive answer. The answer is complicated, complex, multilayered. There is more than one missing link in the chain link fence encompassing our understanding of science curriculum and student performance. I thought some questions geared toward parents and kids would make for an interesting departure - stimulate some thinking at the community level. It would be great to have done this as a more extensive survey and analyze the feedback. But it's food for thought at this stage. If it merely acts as a jumping off point for conversations on science education, all the better.

  1. Do you like learning about science and discovering how things work?
  2. How many hours do you spend learning about science and technology or doing your science homework?
  3. Parents – Do you encourage your children to study science and investigate the world around them?
  4. Do you take trips together as a family (family unit) to the science center or museum?
  5. Parents – do you help with science experiments and are able to explain basic concepts to your children?
  6. How adequate do you think your school’s science resources (classrooms, textbooks, equipment) are?
  7. How big a role does the computer/tablet and the Internet play in your or your child’s learning?
  8. How often do you visit the library? Do you feel they hold any value for learning or is the library the dinosaur and digital in the new key to learning?

The schools in the communities where we live are ours whether one has children or not. Our taxes pay for the buildings, the upkeep, the teachers’ salaries, the equipment. While school administrators handle the day-to-day aspects, as invested shareholders, we should have a say and should take an active interest in the product schools are turning out. Our communities’ livelihoods are at stake and society, the ability to maintain it, depends on it. Get involved.



One Response to “Science Crisis and Community Participation”

  1. Umberto Cannella Reply | Permalink

    Hello Kelly,
    I'm going to offer a complementary viewpoint to the one you raise in the post: you discuss formal education while I'll spend a few words on informal ouf-of-the-classroom education. I believe that science has to be communicated more widely and efficiently to the largest public: it has to become the object of a marketing strategy (as it's been defined in The philosophy of this approach is recognizing that we have to bring science to many different types of listeners, each with different peculiarities and interests. We need to effectively reach as many types of audience as possible because these listeners are the students, voters, politicians, tax-payers and workers of today and tomorrow.
    I believe this is the best way to let people become aware, first, and appreciative of science, afterwards.

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