Friday, July 11, 2008

Science Education Online

I sent the following science links to my buddy Darlene, the Science Cheerleader, and she suggested that I make a posting that included them. Far be it for me to argue with a nice lady who sends me free stuff. I have added a few references for reasons explained below.

The point of these links was to provide some alternative sites for interested folks to find science education information online. The internet is awash in such resources. Such resources might become increasingly necessary (here's where I get on my personal soapbox) if more people home school their kids. And why would they home school? Because of the state of mathematics and science education our taxpayer-funded schools.

The future, whether we like it or not, will become ever more dependent upon automated, computerized electronic technologies, biological technologies, and robotic and nanotechnologies. All of these will require students who are literate in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects. We are doing children no favors by de-stressing grades and emphasizing self-esteem and "creative math." Consider the following quotations from "A Nation at Risk," a report on the state of the U.S. educational system in 1983 (waaaay back in the Reagan era, when I was still in the throes of junior high), and contemplate the fact that the situation has not greatly improved:

Our Nation is at risk. Our once unchallenged preeminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world.

What was unimaginable a generation ago has begun to occur--others are matching and surpassing our educational attainments.

If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves. We have even squandered the gains in student achievement made in the wake of the Sputnik challenge.

  • International comparisons of student achievement, completed a decade ago, reveal that on 19 academic tests American students were never first or second and, in comparison with other industrialized nations, were last seven times.
  • Some 23 million American adults are functionally illiterate by the simplest tests of everyday reading, writing, and comprehension.
  • About 13 percent of all 17-year-olds in the United States can be considered functionally illiterate. Functional illiteracy among minority youth may run as high as 40 percent.
  • Average achievement of high school students on most standardized tests is now lower than 26 years ago when Sputnik was launched.
  • Over half the population of gifted students do not match their tested ability with comparable achievement in school.
  • The College Board's Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT) demonstrate a virtually unbroken decline from 1963 to 1980. Average verbal scores fell over 50 points and average mathematics scores dropped nearly 40 points.


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