The only things I love more than science itself might be mad scientists and evil geniuses. Dr. Emilio Lizardo, Dr. Moreau, Dr. Frankenstein (that’s Frahnk-uhn-steen), Dr. Joyce Brothers, Dr. Scholl’s, Dr. Strangelove. Mad, I tell you! But if none of these villains have done the job of motivating more young people to take an interest in science and scientific careers—mad, evil, or otherwise—then perhaps the Next Generation Science Standards will.
The new standards hit the streets last Tuesday after three years of tinkering in the lab. Critical thinking and communication skills are fundamental to student success within these new standards. Advances in cognitive science, as well as international science education benchmarks, have been taken into account. Partners in the development of these standards included representatives from school districts, major universities, national science organizations, conservation groups, and more.
I’m all for anything that gets more students interested in science. And I certainly hope that the Next Generation Science Standards are the thing. But what I think science education in America really needs is its own mad scientist. By that I mean good public relations. Until we, as a nation, once again place a premium on science for science’s sake, I think we’ll fight to a stalemate. Parents and teachers, politicians and pundits, corporations and individuals all need to put a premium on learning, exploring, and discovery once again.
And having a mad scientist around with a brave, bold idea on which to focus our scientific passions wouldn’t be a bad thing. A trip to Mars, anyone?
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