Professor Powers on Science Education and the Inspiration for the Science Symposium

All kids are scientists.

As a science educator I am constantly aware of the perceived shortcomings in American science education.  The United States, for the past few decades, has been mediocre at best when compared to other countries in terms of quality of science education.  There are many reasons people come up with for America's shortcomings.  Some say it is due to lack of qualified teachers, while others say there is too much emphasis on standardized tests.  There has been much concern that students are too wrapped up in their smartphones and other devices and do not care about school the way they used to.  I do not have any grand solutions to this problem, but I do have some thoughts to share.

It seems that science educators today have more pressure on them to teach concepts and facts rather than helping students learn the processes of science.  Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of time spent teaching science processes, but not in an open way.  Students rarely if ever are given the time and means to conduct a fully independent investigation of a phenomenon that interests them.  Students rarely know what it would take to find out something important on their own.  People have fears based on a lack of understanding of scientific processes.  If we gave students more time and freedom to make discoveries on their own while learning about the process of science, rather than focusing so much on science facts, students would be more likely to grow into more knowledgeable adults.

If you haven't done so, take some time and watch a toddler play. They understand science.