U.S. Devours Science, Technology

By Shulman, Andrew | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 2, 1998 | Go to article overview

U.S. Devours Science, Technology


Shulman, Andrew, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Americans are more interested in science and technology than ever before but don't grasp some basic scientific concepts, according to a study released yesterday by the National Science Board.

The survey found that Americans displayed an increasing knowledge of new inventions and discoveries on the scientific front, yet did not know what DNA was or how long it takes the earth to revolve around the sun.

While 78 percent were aware that the continents were moving on the face of the earth, just over half - 51 percent - knew that humans did not live at the same time as the dinosaurs.

In its biennial report to Congress, "Science and Engineering Indicators 1998," the board, which oversees the National Science Foundation, found that 70 percent of those surveyed are interested in science and technology.

The fall 1997 study asked 2,000 adults nine questions about scientific terms and concepts. Only 11 percent could define what a molecule was, while over 80 percent knew that the center of the earth is very hot.

The responses to the nine questions were converted to a scale of zero-to-100. America's mean score was 55, tied with Denmark for highest in the industrialized world. Britain's score was 53, Canada's 46 and Japan's 36.

Jon Miller, vice president and director of the International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy at the Chicago Academy of Sciences, credits America's secondary education with the public's knowledge of science.

"In almost all American colleges and universities they require at least one year of science - if not more," Mr. …

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