WAMU 88.5 : Metro Connection

Making Science Sizzle for Students

Play associated audio

There hasn't been a measureable change in U.S. students' science test scores over the past 15 years. What has changed, though, is that a number of other countries are doing better.

"Our culture unfortunately doesn't give science doesn't get attention it deserves," says Don Rea, a former space scientist who founded the group Senior Scientists and Engineers. "Science literacy you should start addressing that as early as possible which means elementary school, because as kids get older they become fixed in their attitudes."

The SSE goes to schools in Montgomery County and Fairfax County and talk to students about their work. These scientists say the way to interest students in science is to link to something children find relevant. Robert Thomas is an analytical chemist, and he uses clips from TV shows such as CSI. Or, for example, after the tsunami in Japan, students wanted to know more about the nuclear leaks there. 

"I put together two talks on nuclear fission and nuclear fusion and I related it to information in the media about contamination in sea water, in the vegetation," explains Thomas. "It really was an introduction to nuclear chemistry, but done on a very basic level."

Collette Freeman was a cancer scientist. She says she's trying to show children how science touches all of us.

"I think it's important for students to think of science as something that's useful to them personally. Day by day," says Freeman. "Whether it has to do with their habits of eating, staying out of the sun, not smoking and relating biology with things that can go wrong with you. If you just ask the question 'do you know anyone who has cancer?' everybody raises their hand. And they want to ask questions 'Why did my grandmother get cancer, am I going to get cancer?' That's very very important, you have to get them interested."

The Senior Scientists and Engineers program is hoping to recruit approximately 30 new volunteers for this school year.

[Music: " Science vs Romance " by Rilo Kiley from Take Offs and Landings]

NPR

'Weiner' Offers A Riveting, Close-Up View Of A Scandal In Progress

In 2013, a documentary team followed former Congressman Anthony Weiner in his bid to become mayor of New York. When a scandal hit, the cameras kept rolling. Film critic David Edelstein reviews Weiner.
NPR

Chef Eddie Huang On Cultural Identity And 'Intestine Sticky Rice Hot Dog'

Huang and his brothers, Evan and Emery, headed to China to reconnect with their culture, to eat lots and lots of food — and to cook. He's documented his travels in his new book, Double Cup Love.
NPR

Late-Night Host Jimmy Kimmel Is Negotiating A Presidential Debate. It Makes Sense

Just after Bernie Sanders thanked Kimmel for possibly securing the debate last night, Kimmel made a Batman vs. Superman joke about Democratic superdelegates.
NPR

Hokule'a, The Hawaiian Canoe Traveling The World By A Map Of The Stars

A voyaging canoe built to revive the centuries-old tradition of Hawaiian exploration is circumnavigating the globe. Its crew has already traveled 26,000 miles navigating with the sun, stars and waves.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.