Scientific Literacy

Why has America’s science literacy decreased significantly? Is it the material children are learning in schools? Is it the stereotype of science being the most difficult subject to learn? I believe there are so many different answers but no real conclusion. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, America’s results for literacy were disappointing, but mathematics and problem solving proved to be especially embarrassing for a nation that has formally reigned as a leader of innovation and technology. The United States ranked 21 out of 23 countries in math and 17 out of 19 countries in problem solving. Even more interesting, the Wall Street Journal reports that the majority of graduate students studying science and technology at American universities are not Americans, but Chinese and South Koreans. I find this interesting considering that the science, health and technology field is constantly growing. This field has taken spontaneous strides only to believe that more are to come. Edie Fraser, director of (STEM= Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), says 71% of new jobs are going to be computer related in every field. So why is it that the field is growing but the knowledge is decreasing?

In an interview with Discovery Channel’s “Myth Busters”, Grant Imahara, he explained how he thinks, “We need rock stars. In the 60s astronauts were rock stars. Everyone wanted to be an astronaut.” He believes bring back the esteem and “awe” of the scientific community and scientific discoveries, kids will develop a passion and desire to learn more about these subjects, and I, think he is absolutely right. Children like things that are “cool” at the time. When some huge discovery enters the world everyone wants to learn more about it. We are told from a very young age that our career path should follow a passion that we have. So, at a very young age, these children need to understand that science can be a passion and amazing discoveries have been made.

Another possible solutions could be to have educators show STEM is fun. Improving education and excitement in a classroom could follow outside of just schooling. These teachers would have to find ways to enhance the methods and activities they use to teach. Making science fun and interesting for students is huge in increasing science literacy. In my own experience, I completely hated science until my junior year physics class. I found science boring, and I hated that I could never really grasp the full meaning. My junior year teacher, Mrs. Monti, made it so much fun. The way she explained things and understood our questions was quite incredible. She is what made me like science, and I believe every child is going to need a teacher like this to be able to find that passion.

What about the cost? Student loans are a huge burden to everyone who is continuing their education after high school. And a lot of majors with a science background need more school after just a bachelors degree. More schooling, equals more debt. Less than 8% of people in minority communities are represented in STEM degrees.

There are so many variables that could possible be the reason of the major scientific illiteracy in America. These are just a few. I find all of these reasons major impacts and very interesting. Finding answers to these problems may be difficult, but it may also be the only way we rise our scientific literacy.

-Alli Stamper


4 thoughts on “Scientific Literacy

  1. I absolutely agree that there are so many reasons why we’ve fallen behind in STEM as a country. What fascinates me is that, in my work as a volunteer park ranger, I found that kids LOVE science! I feel as though we discount kids and assume they believe the material to be boring, or that it might be too hard for them. I like your suggestion that we should encourage educators to bring STEM into the class with fun activities. I think the most difficult part is showing people who’ve already gone through their education that science is interesting. Sure, research papers are dry, and the jargon can be too much, but with all the social media around us, it’s completely possible to create infobites on new research to get people to open up!
    Kaylin Brodzki


  2. I like this article! I feel that kids love to learn but its our approach to how we are teaching them and the fact we may give up too easily. In today’s world, there are so many different options and approaches to how we can educate our kids that there should be no reason why we can’t find a solution. Plus any article that has a Calvin and Hobbes reference gets my full attention!

    -Matthew Wurzelbacher


  3. Something that I can connect with really well is when you talked about how a kid needs to follow what they’re passionate about. I totally agree. I hate how as a society people are pushed to get their college degree and then go straight into the workforce. It’s like an assembly line. High school, college, work. If you don’t fit into that sort of routine, it’s almost frowned upon. I feel like people should follow their passions more and not worry about sticking to the norm.

    Mike Montague


  4. You make a lot of good point here, one reason I could see the scores going down, but jobs going up is people need more of these people in this field now more than ever so they are taking what they can get.
    Trevor Ginn


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