News from the world of maths: Maths and science: Hugely important but poorly understood

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Maths and science: Hugely important but poorly understood

A recent poll conducted in the US by Research!America showed that while US citizens feel that public understanding of maths and science is poor, they are well aware of its importance. The vast majority (85%) recognise that maths and science are very important, but over half (52%) feel that the US isn't performing as well as other nations in maths and science education. Maybe surprisingly, 87% rate being a scientist as one of the most prestigious careers, yet 75% can't name a living scientist. Sixty-four percent don't think average Americans are knowledgeable about science, and 76% think it is very important that young people are encouraged to pursue scientific careers, and that more opportunities for these careers are created.

Most people questioned felt that scientific advances in the medical and health sector were the most important to society, but many recognised that research in this area depended on maths (56%) and other maths based fields including computer science (62%), physics (58%) and engineering (49%).

A huge majority (97%) recognised that science research is important to the US economy and 94% also saw that it can create jobs and higher incomes. Global issues also scored highly with 67% seeing scientific research as very important in addressing global warming and 61% in eliminating poverty and hunger around the world.

And, interestingly for Plus, 70% wanted more media coverage of science and research.

"To address today's unprecedented opportunities in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics workforce, we must retool our education system to educate our young people in math and science more effectively and nurture the innate abilities of all young people, regardless of gender or race, to enter a STEM field of study," concluded Arden Bement, the director of the US National Science Foundation.

posted by Plus @ 12:19 PM


At 6:11 PM, Blogger Bill said...

"Maybe surprisingly, 87% rate being a scientist as one of the most prestigious careers..."
Maybe (not surprisingly) the crux of the problem lies in the fact that in the United States no one considers "being a teacher" is prestigious.

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