Reading and math. Reading and math. Reading and math. When it comes to the yardstick by which we measure the progress of students, those are the subject areas that most bureaucrats and a few teachers care about.
This new video, posted by Cambridge University, leads to today's discussion point. What if we exposed more kids to science? Would they get more excited and, in the process, be more interested in learning more about math and reading?
The microphone is on below. Go.
Bill Nye the Science Guy!
I believe that interest in science -- physics particularly -- leads to a better understanding of advanced math. Not so sure about reading. In my case, interest in reading or at least books came first, then science and then, finally, understanding and actually enjoying the math.
Having four children (18, 17, 16, and 12) most of the time when I ask them how school was the ONLY thing (besides the social issues and lunch) they remember is ALL related to science class! With all of the great/interesting science shows on TV (Bill Nye, Nova, Mythbusters, How it works, ...) it is a great opportunity to reel kids in to learning.
Your posting of this is well timed. TODAY the Science Museum of Minnesota is hosting Youth Science Day from 1-4 PM. (I volunteer at SMM in the Experiment Gallery)
Do I think there should be more science taught? Absolutely.
Do I think science education is encumbered by social issue politics? Yes.
Reading and math are "gateway" subjects that build the foundation for higher learning; they may not have much appeal in their own right.
The problem we run into with measuring performance only by reading and math is that those are the subjects that will be drilled into kids, at the expense of others. That means that many kids won't be exposed to the subjects that would inspire them, and would therefore inspire them to learn reading and math.
Science will increase math and reading. Most people in middle school and high school have to do experiments, which usually involve writing up lab reports. Being able to convey your hypothesis, observations, results, and conclusions not only helps science skills but writing too. Being able to read the science textbooks and lab manuals increases reading. Most of science as well involves some type of math. I think the most important thing is to allow students to ask questions. It is amazing how many questions adults ask now about science (I am involved with the reddit group/sub-reddit "AskScience"). I remember hearing somewhere that something like 80% of people who are out of school get all of their science from the weather-people on tv. Science needs to start young though, where passion and imagination can grow. In the words of Carl Sagan, "Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact."
Of course it is also hard for me to talk about the state of science without using something from Neil deGrasse Tyson (1 min video).
Overall I think we need to look at science and kids more. Not just teaching but testing- science shows that a kid can read, understand, and interpret while applying things such as math.
@BenCh: Thanks for the Neil deGrasse Tyson video.
@Dave S.: Gateway subjects? Really?
Here's your gateway to science learning:
Take a kid (any age 1 to 100) outside on a beautiful summer evening and blow soap bubbles. Now as bubbles bob up and down on the breeze think of how many different science topics you can discuss? (Off the top of my head I can think of 6 and I'm sure I could come up with a few more depending on the specific circumstances.)
I'm a lover of science, and try to follow news and current events, but am not schooled in it. When it comes to our 6 and 7 year olds, I have worked hard to try to get them to answer their own questions. I think it pushes them to think for themselves, think creatively, AND gets them thinking a bit like a scientist. We also try to expose them to the Science Museum and other wonderful institutions around our city.
So yeah... it's important to us. And would like our schools to offer more of it, just as much as more music, art, and the other studies that have been pushed aside.