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 STEMconnector.org (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.