According to a report by the National Science Foundation (NSF), one in four Americans are said to be unaware of the fact that the earth revolves around the sun. This startling revelation is based on the analysis of over 2,200 responses by the country’s premier body for scientific and engineering education and was made public at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago on February 14. The announcement follows the debate between science guy Bill Nye and creationist Ken Ham. The same report by the NSF indicated that most Americans have a profound respect for science and support science as the catalyst for progress.
Despite employing the second largest number PhD holders from around the world, one in four Americans — has no knowledge of the earth’s 365-and-a-quarter day revolution around the sun. The basic grade-school science question was administered to Americans and Europeans with the latter faring far worse than their American counterparts, with only two in three respondents demonstrating awareness of the earth’s celestial trajectory around the sun. President Barack Obama has repeatedly echoed the concerns of thousands of educators that emerging economies such as India and China have usurped the United States’ position in terms of science and engineering education.
At the commencement of his State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, the president opened with a comment about how a teacher put in extra time with a student and therefore played a role in lifting “America’s graduation rate to its highest levels in more than three decades.” However, despite data that backs up President Obama’s claims, there are several voices that point at a system of self-reported graduation rates that artificially inflate the data that the president has based his address on. This is a bone of contention that is bound to rear its head again when the results of the NSF poll is tabled before the American president.
Nonetheless, the fact that a basic awareness of scientifically observed and proven phenomena is at an all-time low is an indictment of the American education system. The growing influx of foreign postdoctoral students – from Mexico, India and China has resulted in a large population of PhDs in the United States who cannot be absorbed by academia or the industry. However, basic scientific knowledge is often blamed on America’s school system.
The latest report from the National Science Foundation reveals that one in every four Americans does not know that the earth revolves around the sun. Reports from America’s school system have done little to offer comfort in the light of the poll. Performance snapshots by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reveal that the United States ranks in the 50th percentile in performance for math, reading and science despite being in the top four for education spending. The study also offers hope, revealing a growing interest in medical discoveries but only 30 percent of the NSF respondents believe that science and technology should receive higher funding.
By Grace Stephen
The Washington Post