Most of us know the Earth revolves around the sun, but according to surveys, less than half of us know that antibiotics don't kill viruses and only 45% of U.S. adults can explain why you see lightning before hearing thunder. American students rank 21st out of 30 in science literacy and 25th out of 30 in math literacy.
To be sure, more fodder for alarmed headlines. But the survey results and literacy rankings point to a more fundamental problem. Political, business and education leaders, from President Obama to local school board members, argue that America's economic future depends upon improving its science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and enhancing what its citizens and workers know about these subjects.
Joan Cartan-Hansen hosts a special one-hour examination of STEM education. Two leaders from the National Science Foundation, Joan Ferrini-Mundy and Sue Allen, begin the show by explaining what STEM education is and describing new ways to enhance STEM education in both formal and informal settings. Then a panel of Idaho experts come on to discuss how the state is approaching STEM education and to explain why Idaho's business community is supporting enhanced STEM education. Her guests in this segment include James Gregson, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and External Funding for the College of Education and STEM coordinator, University of Idaho; Jefferson Jewell, Managing Director, Blackfin Technology; Louis Nadelson, Assistant Professor in the College of Education at Boise State University; Holly MacLean, Principal of the Treasure Valley Math and Science Center; and Chris Taylor, 8th grade Earth Science teacher at South Jr. High in Boise.