SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 1 TOP OF DOCNATIONAL SCIENCE POLICY STUDY, PART I: MATH AND SCIENCE EDUCATION: MAINTAINING THE INTEREST OF YOUNG KIDS IN SCIENCE
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4, 1998
U.S. House of Representatives,
Committee on Science,
The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 2:05 p.m., in Room 2318, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., Chairman of the Committee, presiding.
Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The Committee will be in order. Today I am pleased to gavel to order the first in a series of hearings to be conducted by the Committee as a part of the National Science Policy Study. As most of you know, the Science Committee has been directed by the Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, to conduct a review of our national science policy and develop a new, long-range science and technology policy that is concise, coherent, and comprehensive.
In response, I named the Vice Chairman of the Committee on Science, my good friend and able colleague Vernon Ehlers of Michigan, to lead this endeavor. Being a scientist himself, Vern is an ideal choice for this assignment, and I look forward to working with him in the months to come.
It has been said that science policy is really little more than budget policy. I'm hopeful that we can change that equation around and establish some sound principles that will provide the basis for the Congress, the Administration, and the American people to guide this Nation's scientific enterprise.
Today is the beginning of the hearings portion of the study, and I think it is appropriate that we focus on science and math education as our first order of business. The Nation has recently discoveredor perhaps rediscovered is a better wordthat its children are not receiving an adequate education in math and science.
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The latest and most dismal study of American performance in math and science reveals that when U.S. students are compared with their peers overseas, they perform near the bottom. A study of 12th grade students conducted as part of the Third International Mathematics and Science Studywhich we call TIMSScompared student achievement in math and science in 41 industrialized countries and ranked the United States fourth from the bottom, with only Lithuania, Cyprus, and South Africa faring worse.
As a Nation, we should be justly concerned. Clearly, something in our educational system is seriously wrong, and we need to find out what it is and how to fix it promptly.
The troubling news from TIMSS should serve as a most deafening wake-up call for the United States. We can and must do a better job of preparing our young people for the 21st Century. To deny students the education they will need to compete in the high-tech, global marketplace of the future is not only a grave disservice to them, but also to our future national and economic security.
The TIMSS report should serve as the inauspicious backdrop for today's hearing examining math and science education and in our future hearings the Committee conducts as part of the National Science Policy Study.
I look forward today to hearing from our witnesses on how we can spark the curiosity that's in all kids and get them thinking about math and science not as bastions of the dull and obscure, but as prestigious, exciting, and worthy undertakings that will get them good degrees from college and good jobs once they get out of college.
I'm especially pleased today to welcome Sandra Parker who is a teacher at Flint Hill School, as well as her class. This is a good excuse to get out of school, right?
Both of my sons attended Flint Hill School, and my younger son Bob is presently in the 8th grade there, so I'm familiar with the work Ms. Parker does and the type of good education that's given at Flint Hill. And she received a Presidential award last year for excellence in math and science education, and I think that she perhaps has the unique perspective of what we need to do to stimulate teachers to do well in math and science because we all know that good teachers make good students.
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am going to turn the gavel over to Congressman Ehlers of Michigan in just a couple of moments because my other Committee, the Judiciary Committee, is marking up legislation, including a constitutional amendment relative to prayer in schools and other public places, and we're going to be voting on that around the corner pretty soon. But I do want to thank all of the witnesses for coming to start the hearings phase of this study off with a very positive bang.
At this time I'll turn the gavel over to Mr. Ehlers and recognize the Ranking Minority Member of this Committee, Congressman George Brown of California.
Mr. EHLERS [presiding]. Mr. Brown, you are recognized.
Mr. BROWN of California. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. During this Congress, the Science Committee has held several hearings on the status of K12 science and math education, and on the efforts that are underway to improve student performance in these subjects. This Committee has a long involvement in supporting federal programs to assist the efforts of state and local school systems in such areas as teacher professional development, curriculum development, and development and deployment of information technologies to support math and science education.
In the past, federal efforts at science education were motivated largely by the goal of ensuring a full pipeline of students moving toward careers in science and technology. But the current reform efforts to strengthen the K12 science education have been driven by the realization that technology now infuses more and more aspects of daily life.
All citizens need a basic grounding in science and math to function in an increasingly complex world and to lead fulfilling lives. At today's hearings, we hope to explore how techniques and approaches used successfully in informal science education settings may inform the development of curricular materials and teaching approaches used in the classroom.
We are interested in what could be done to equip teachers to use more effective teaching methods, and we hope to discover to what extent and how effectively the results of cognitive research are being incorporated in curricular materials and pedagogical methods.
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I'm pleased that Vice Chairman Ehlers is placing special emphasis on K12 math and science education and on the application of computers and other information technologies in education. Most workplaces are becoming increasingly technological while our society is becoming increasingly diverse. We are running the risk of a widening gulf between those with the training to thrive in this new work environment and those lacking the basic skills to qualify for the high-tech workplace. We need not only to remove the stigmas related to studying science and math, but also to encourage students at all levels of ability while also imparting the reality that a strong back and a strong work ethic may not be enough to ensure a good job in the 21st Century. In addition to mastering the three r's, students must learn as much as they can about science and technology because these will be the key to our future.
Mr. Chairman, I congratulate you for calling these hearings and joining you in welcoming our witnesses and I look forward to their testimony. And I ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks.
Mr. EHLERS. Without objection, so ordered. Thank you for your statement, Mr. Brown. I appreciate your comments.
I'm very pleased to welcome everyone to this first hearing of this year on mathematics and science education held in this Committee, following a number of such hearings held last year. Before I say a few words about the topic of today's hearing and introduce our witnesses, I would like to address a few points regarding the Committee's National Science Policy Study in general because there has been a little misunderstanding about it.
As you heard from the Chairman, the Speaker gave that responsibility to the Committee and he has delegated it to me as Vice Chairman, but we are fully involving Mr. Brown and his staff. We are truly trying to make this a bipartisan project.
Our goal is to produce a comprehensive yet concise and coherent report that can serve as a taking off point for discussion and as a guide for Congress in considering science issues, and particularly science funding. In addition to the science policy project, I was asked to serve as a liaison with the scientific community, and, in addition to that, to seek to improve math and science education, and, therefore, the special topic we are discussing today.
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I have considerable interest and experience in both science and in science education, and have also spent some time in elementary school classrooms myself, in various efforts.
This hearing will combine a number of the issues that we're dealing with in the study. I also wanted to clarify there is not a task force on this. It is the Science Committee as a whole, and Mr. Sensenbrenner has delegated the lead position on that to me, but we will involve the entire Committee and I hope eventually we will be get approval from the House and the Senate for our work.
Before we get into this, I can't resist showing some cartoons from one of our favorites, ''Calvin & Hobbes,'' if we can get the equipment to work, there we go. It'll focusbecause we're dealing today with the curiosity that children have with regard to issues of scienceif you can't focus it, Kerli, you're going to have to move it forward or back, I'm not sure which. If you can't do it, we'll simply skip it.
I'm afraid we'll simply have to forego that. Sorry, we don't have the extra cord here. I'm violating my prime rule once again to always test the setup before you do it in public.
Would you turn it off, please.
What I do want to demonstrate, however, which should work, is the website. And the reason for this is simply to point out to everyone involved that in an effort to get comments and input from any interested parties in the United States, we have established a website for the National Science Policy, and it may be a bit hard to read the address above, but if anyone wishes the address afterwards, we'd certainly be happy to furnish it to you. If not, you can simply go to the www.house.gov, science, and trace it down from there.
This is the front page; we also have a page devoted to math and science. If you flip to the next one, you will see the hearing charter for this particular hearing, and we'll give in detail what we're trying to accomplish today. And we have many, many things for you to look at here; I don't want to bore you with it. But if will you flip to the next one, we have a page where we are seeking comments. And first of all, it tells a little about the project, and if you'll just scroll down a bit, you can find the comment form where you fill in your name, title, and go through the drill, and send us your comments. We have received a great many comments. We're into the hundreds at this point and we encourage anyone involved, anyone in this room or those who might hear about it late, be certain to participate and send their comments.
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you very much, Kerli.
With that, let me conclude with my opening statement. As I said, today's hearing is about one of our Nation's most valuable resources, our children. They are dependent upon us as parents, as educators, and as policymakers, to prepare them for the world that they will inherit and live in. There's no doubt in my mind that science and technology will play an even greater role in their future than it did in ours, and that our children must be prepared to live in such a world.
The recent test scores of American 12th graders, which you heard Mr. Sensenbrenner discuss, compared to their peers around the world, call into question the job we are doing. In fact, the results are shocking.
American students were below average in every category of science and math tested, and we're dead last in physics. And I take that personally since I'm a physicist. Interestingly, students in the 4th grade did relatively well, our 8th graders were average, 12th graders were not. There are a number of reasons for this decline, but an increasing lack of interest in science and math over the course of students' schooling may be partly responsible.
Every child is born a scientist, as I mentioned in trying to show the cartoon. By this I mean that kids continually ask a simple question about their surroundings: Why? And any parent can vouch for the fact that is a very commonly used word. This same query lies at the root of every scientific discovery. Not every child will grow up to be a scientist, and this is clearly not our goal here. I still have to wonder, however, how many of today's lawyers, businesspeople, and teachers got the message as a child that science is too hard, math is too boring, or that science and math are only for nerds.
Today we will hear from witnesses about what steps we can take to make sure that kids get a better message, that science is not intimidating but it is exciting and fun. I strongly believe that fundamental to this process is making classroom science a hands-on, inquiry-based learning experience.
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I had experience with this early in my career while working as a professor of physics at Calvin College. I cooperated with the education department there to create a special course on the fundamentals of science and science teaching designed specifically for future elementary school teachers. A cornerstone of my efforts was to get these future teachers comfortable with a curriculum that emphasized experimentation and exploration.
I would like to make one last point before turning the Floor over to the witnesses. Making science more appealing to students is very important but I want to caution that focusing too much on making science attractive risks losing sight of an important point because it reinforces the view that science is optional, not fundamental.
For a contrast, consider reading. We have mandated that all children must learn to read. We do not implore and entice children to learn to read, we require it. Even though we are trying to make science as exciting as possible and as attractive as possible, we should set the same requirements for science and mathematics that we have for reading. In a technology driven world, every citizen will need that basic understanding.
With that and without objection, I will insert the rest of the statement into the record.
We will now turn to our witnesses. I will proceed to introduce each of them, with the exception of Dr. Krakauer, you get special treatment and we'll come back to you in just a moment.
First of all, we'll have Mr. Bill Nye who is host of, ''Bill Nye the Science Guy,'' and also Bill Nye the nice guy. We're pleased that you were able to be here.
Isn't technology wonderful?
We're enticing you, making you more interested.
Mr. Nye is with McKenna/Gottlieb Producers, Inc., in Seattle, Washington, and we're very pleased, first of all, with the work you do in educating the children of this Nation, but also very interested in getting your ideas about classroom education as well.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Next is Dr. Joel Schneider, Vice President for Education and Research, Children's Television Workshop. He is standing in for Oscar the Grouch, Big Bird and various other characters who were unable to make it today due to previous engagements. And we thank you for coming.
Next, Ms. Sandra Parker, whom Mr. Sensenbrenner commented about earlier, a distinguished teacher, 1997 recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, from Flint Hill School in Oakton, Virginia, accompanied by a large number of her students who are extremely well-dressed and extremely well-behaved, and we're very happy to have you with us today.
We'll skip Dr. Krakauer for just a moment, and introduce Dr. Susan Carey from the Department of Psychology at the New York University in New York. And those of who have worked in elementary school science realize how important and understanding of intellectual development and other aspects of psychology are for proper instruction of science in the classroom.
For the introduction of Dr. Krakauer, I will turn to Mr. Etheridge who has requested the pleasure of introducing you.
Mr. ETHERIDGE. Mr. Chairman, thank you, and I appreciate very much you being kind enough to allow me to do this. For the sake of the audience and the other members on the panel, Dr. Krakauer and I have been friends for a number of years. When I was superintendent of schools for the State of North Carolina, we had the opportunity to work together in doing some special hands-on things for children to excite them in science. And as you know, Mr. Ehlers, when you're talking about science, you're talking about the foundation of math and the other issues. And he's been a great help in that.
He is President and Chief Executive Officer of the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science in Durham, North Carolina. And they have just passed a bond issue recently to do some additional expanding. He has been a museum director since 1974, and during that time served as President of the Virginia Association of Museums, the North Carolina Alliance of Science Museums, and has served on the board of the Science Technology Center almost continuously since 1979. He has been very active not only with the museums, but in education in North Carolina. He was awarded a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Florida in 1970. He has taught biology in Virginia, and that was where he received his love and opportunity to first move in to the museum area, and from there he moved from Virginia.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We were fortunate enough to have him in North Carolina, and we've been blessed in our State as a result of it, of his close working relationship with the education community. And I hope as we proceed today, Mr. Chairman, one of the things that will come out of this, and we can ask, how can we better link our hands-on museums, our public and private partnership, to excite the things that happens to young people just like this? They start out, as you have said, excited. Some where along the way, we dull that. We need to make sure we don't have that excitement die as we move into high school.
It is my great pleasure to welcome my good friend, Dr. Thomas Krakauer, to this meeting today. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. EHLERS. Thank you, Mr. Etheridge. We appreciate the introduction.
Just a few words about the ground rules for those who may not be familiar with it. Each of the witnesses will be given 5 minutes to make an individual, initial presentation, and that will be followed by questions from the Members of Congress who are in attendance today, and we'll take them in order of which they've arrived here. To the best of our knowledge we keep track of that, and we'll grant each of them 5 minutes total for questions and response.
One other item, I have a meeting going on simultaneously on the other side of this building, and they're holding votes in that meeting, so I may be summoned at any moment, and will have approximately 26 seconds to get from here to there in order to vote, so you may see me popping up occasionally and asking one of my colleagues to chair the meeting. And I will return as quickly as possible.
We'll begin with Mr. Nye. Thank you for being here.
Could you turn the microphone on, please.
STATEMENT OF BILL NYE, HOST, ''BILL NYE THE SCIENCE GUY,'' McKENNA/GOTTLIEB PRODUCTIONS, INC., SEATTLE, WA
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. NYE. Thank you very much for inviting me. This is quite an honor to be given a chance to speak to you. Fundamentally, I just think that we are all scientists. Every human who is successful on the Earth thinks scientifically, evaluates the world around him, decides what to do each and every day based on trial and error, and what we would call traditionally, the scientific method.
Now people ask me all the time, people ask me very often: What is your secret? How do you combine science and entertainment? How do combine a show about science with something that's so fun and interesting?
And, to me, fundamentally there's nothing more compelling, there's nothing more interesting, there's nothing more charming than science. The world is this wonderful, mysterious place and what we try to do on the show is show our viewers how exciting it can be.
So, the fundamental thing about my show that many people I'm not sure appreciate, is that it is entertainment first. Our show really isthe question about every bit that we do, every segment we do, is, is it going to be entertaining, because it's a television show. Now, in a classroom, you wouldn't necessarily want to make every moment be entertaining and exciting, but I certainly hope that you have the idea when you show up as a teacher, you've got to have some material, you have something to say, you have something to show the kids, show to your students, that's interesting and exciting.
So, to me, in science education, we have a tremendous advantage over many other disciplines, with all due respect to people who for some reason didn't choose science for a profession, is that we have props. We have gizmos and demonstrations and experiments that we can do for students. These are very important.
First of all, there's a lot of tradition in the experiments and demonstrations, and another thing along with that is the demonstrations are how we know. The way humans have come to understand the world is by doing experiments, by observing thingsmaking observations in particular. And to this end, I look around the end, look at every single thing in this room, and you'll see that it's wooden, those are all shaped by people. The flag, the metal, the little engraved name tags that everybody has, are all shaped by humans who understood the world. Humans who took the time to figure out the way things work. So we have to provide, in my opinion, we have to provide means for every teacher to do these demonstrations for her or his students. And that takes resources, that takes money.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And along with that, we have to provide demonstrations for every student to do for her or himself because that's really the key to science. That's the fundamental thing. That's what makes science so much more compelling than almost anything that comes to mindlet's say anything that comes to mindit's that when you do it for yourself, it doesn't matter who showed you, it doesn't matter who told you that the Earth goes around the Sun, for example. When you discover it for yourself, then it's yours. And that's the passion of science that I think we just have to be sure as a Nation to convey. It's very much in our national interest, too, as the students of tomorrow.
And another thing along the classroom venue, the classroom environment, where I don't work full-time, just now and then. The classroom, in my opinion, should be a beautiful place. It should be a gleaming place. It should be a place that everyone wants to be. The schools, in my opinion, should be the most striking architecture, the most handsome buildings, in the community. And that is the way, in my view, to attract good people to become teachers.
There's no one in a corporation in the United States who would go to workreally in a big time corporation, expecting to make an executive salarywhere the roofs leak. It's inconceivable. There's no one that would go to work where there isn't enough electrical power to run computers, which are, you know, 40 watt devices, barely a light bulb.
That's just unheard of, yet we expect our teachers in this country, in many cases, to put up with these kinds of conditions in the environment. And it's just not in anybody's best interest, whether you're a Democrat or Republican, because this is our future.
Then I just want to emphasize also that science is a human endeavor. Science is not something that people were given. Science is not something written down exactly in a book. Science is a human endeavor. It's carried on by people. It's something humans made up.
So if we have a workforce, for example, that's half women, in my opinion, we have a scientific community that's half women. If we have a workforce that's what used to be called minorities, now sometimes called People of Color and so on, then we have to a scientific community that's a third People of Color. And this gets into something that is sort of a fundamental, at the base of science, that it's made up of people, so the people that conduct it have to represent our society.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And another thing that's very near and dear to me is the metric system. To have this country to be actually the last nation on Earththe Azores, which is a string of islands, they're converted to the metric system also. We're the last nation in the world, and we're expecting to do business, expecting to carry on commerce with everybody else. It's hard to imagine, really. So, science class is where the metric system can start.
And the other thing that I really want to emphasize, whatever report this Committee generates, I think it's very important that it be in plain English. What we do on the show, we take a tremendous amount of time, we do a lotmost of our discipline, the most difficult part of the writing is in the vocabulary. The words have to be chosen very carefully to keep the show at a 4th grade level, which the reason we do the show at a 4th grade level is because it's generally agreed that's the oldest a person can be to get excited about science, so when the show was designed, that's the age we choose. And it turns out that over half of our viewers are grownups, so 4th grade isn't so bad for everybody.
My point being that if we use words that are not easily accessible to the listener in a report, or to the reader, the report will be ignored and the work will have gone to waste.
Then the last thing, I guess, is the most important thing we can teach, I think nowthe knowledge is expanding so fast. There's so much going on in the world, everyday, with the electronic communication and libraries accessible to so many people, human knowledge is expanding faster than anyone could absorb it all. So what we need to teach is the process of science.
What I like to say: How do we know what we know? How do we know that dinosaurs once walked the Earth? How do we know that the Earth goes around the Sun? How do we know that Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is a result of a virus? These are fundamental things, that the facts are very important, but the way that you come to know the facts is much more important. And this is what is currently called critical thinking, and I think it's the most critical thing that we can teach. And I hope that we can all work together to improve education in this Nation so that the United States is once again the preeminent science and technology community in the world.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you. Thank you very much for your time.
[The prepared statement and attachments of Mr. Nye follow:]
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Mr. EHLERS. Thank you for your comments. Dr. Schneider.
STATEMENT OF JOEL SCHNEIDER, VICE PRESIDENT FOR EDUCATION AND RESEARCH, CHILDREN'S TELEVISION WORKSHOP, NEW YORK, NY
Dr. SCHNEIDER. Members of the Committee, thank you very much for inviting me here today to address you. I appreciate it very much. In fact, your own eloquent introductions anticipated many of my own thoughts on this subject, and some of the comments that I'm going to make, and which appear in my written testimony.
I'm Vice President for Education and Research at Children's Television Workshop, best known as producer of ''Sesame Street.'' I'm also a mathematician, one who traded the challenges of research and mathematics for those of mathematics education. I worked for 15 years in schools and colleges, in school and college settings, designing curricula and working with teachers. And for the last 15 years, I've been at the Children's Television Workshop, working on a variety of mathematics and science projects, all of which belong to the domain of informal science or mathematics education, that is, education outside of school.
The natural question is: Is there any value in informal science education? Is there any evidence of success? Is there any link to the school enterprise? And the answers to these questions is yes, yes, and yes.
And perhaps the most valuable contribution for that informal education can make would be in fostering a culture of learning amongst our children. And that would include a general positive attitude towards mathematics and science. The sad fact is that all too many of our fellow citizens make no secret of their lack of mathematics or science skills, or even interest in the subjects.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Although we don't want everyone to grow up to be a scientist or mathematician, 12 or more years of schooling should equip people to recognize the role of science or mathematics in their lives, to grapple with public issues that require those two subjects, such as health policy or tax policy or energy policiesthe list is longer than my arm, maybe both arms. And even might include developing an understanding of the limits of science in solving our problems, especially those problems which are charged with emotion.
The Children's Television Workshop is a major provider of informal education. Sesame Street was our first program and it continues to educate and delight our country's children and families today after 29 years. I comment on Sesame Street science and mathematics in my written statement, and I also describe several of our other television series, series that focus on science or focus on mathematics. I also tell in my statement there about the research that demonstrates the effectiveness of those series in delivering information, and in affecting their viewers attitudes towards mathematics and science for the better.
I've brought four samples from the shows on tape. Each of the clips is short, and viewing it out of context of course misses some of its impact. You'll see four different styles and methods for making our point.
First is the introduction to ''Mathnet,'' a detective drama that was part of each episode of ''Square One TV,'' our mathematics series. It ends with an important message for every young woman who watched the show.
The second clip is from the current season of ''Sesame Street.'' It's a scene from a multi-part story featuring Oscar the Grouch's pet worm Slimy as he undertakes a physical test to win a berth on the Worm Aeronautics and Space Administration's, that's WASA's, mission to put a worm on the moon.
The third clip comes from ''Cro'' and ''Cro'' is an animated action-adventure science show that aired on Saturday morning network television, of all places. Cro is the hero and in each show he saved the day by constructing or flying a simple machine.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And the last clip is a math commercial from ''Square One TV,'' our mathematics program, as I said.
Because of time constraints, I've admitted a clip from our first large science series, that was ''321 Contact,'' and before I run the tape I want to acknowledge the major role the National Science Foundation Program on Informal Science Education has played as the lead funder in many of our science and mathematics projects.
The tape runs about 4 minutes. Could we run the tape.
Narrator: ''But it's short. The names are made up, but the problems are real. Mathnet, the documented drama of an actual crime. For the next 60 minutes, in cooperation with CTW, you will travel step-by-step from the sight of the lawful and actual case, from beginning to end, from crime to punishment. Mathnet is the story or your mathematicians in action.''
Tuesday: ''It was Monday, 9:43 a.m., and the weather had turned balmy, as had most New Yorkers. It seems whenever the weather is good, New Yorkers are bad because they have to find something else to complain about. Today they were complaining about the good weather. I was working the day-watch out of Mathnet. The boss is Joe Greco, my partner is George Frankly. My name is Tuesday. I'm a mathematician.''
Scientist: ''Listen up, in a spaceship you may find yourself going upsy-downsy, every way aroundsy. That's why we call this next test the 'upsy-downsy, every way aroundsy wouncy bouncy test.'''
Oscar the Grouch: ''The 'upsy-Downsy, every way aroundsy wouncy bouncy test? Hmpf. That isn't even easy to say.'''
Scientist: ''Oh, don't worry. It's not as hard as it sounds. This is how it goes. First, this highly trained technician will shake you all over the place. And then we'll see if you can walk this straight line without falling off of it.''
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Oscar the Grouch: ''That's nothing. Slimy can do it. I hope.''
Scientist: ''All right, highly trained technician, you may begin.''
Highly Trained Technician: ''All righty.''
Oscar the Grouch: ''Poor Slimy. This is making me even dizzier than the first test.''
Scientist: ''Okay, enough of the 'upsy-downsy, aroundsy wouncy bouncy. Now worms, get out of your seats and let's see which ones of you can walk on this straight line.'''
Oscar the Grouch: ''Wait a minute. I thought you said this was going to be easy. Those poor worms are all dizzy now. It's going to be really hard for them to stay on that line.''
Scientist: ''Bergotini from Italy made it. Krushta from Romania made it. Brashini from Japan, Nicasano from Colombia, is anyone else going to make it?''
Oscar the Grouch: ''Slimy's going to try it now. Come on Slimy, you can do it. You can walk the straight line. He did it. He did it. Slimy passed the second test.''
Scientist: ''Well, Slimy the Worm, it looks like you're one of the five worms that will be flying in that spaceship to the moon.''
Character 1: ''All right everyone, let's go find Aug and Andy.''
Character 2: ''Wait. I don't think''
Character 3: ''I, I, I can't see!''
Character 2: ''that raft will support all our weight.''
Character 1: ''Now you tell me.''
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Character 2: ''Look, when you float something, it pushes water out of the way. What you need is more displacement relative to the load.''
Characters 1 and 3: ''Huh?''
Character 2: ''Just add another log. That'll make the raft more buoyant. Q.E.D., it'll hold more weight.''
Narrator: ''Welcome back to the Open Wide Open, brought to you by, Jet, the toothpaste with a sense of humor. Nick Jacklaus tees off on the ninth. That's what you call a perfect parabola. Jacklaus can't find his ball anywhere. Let's look at that shot again. Yes, a perfect parabola.''
Voice Over: ''Parabolas, brought to you by Geometry, another division of Mathematics. It's more than just arithmetic.''
Dr. SCHNEIDER. Those pieces show four messages: Women can be mathematicians; doing science takes desire and perseverance; science helps to solve every day problems; mathematics is geometry, probability, statistics and much more.
These messages bear repeating, and we do repeat them and reinforce them in several hundred hours of programming. As you, in your opening statement, said, the problems of science and mathematics are not new, as problems in science and mathematics education are not new. And these complex problems have no easy solutions, however, the results of our efforts at CTW and those of our colleagues in informal science education, business, in the media, in the museums, show that we can help to educate our children and help them develop skills and understanding necessary for active and productive lives. Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement and attachments of Dr. Schneider follow:]
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Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. EHLERS. Thank you for your comments. Ms. Sandra Parker.
STATEMENT OF SANDRA L. PARKER, DISTINGUISHED TEACHER, 1997 RECIPIENT OF PRESIDENTIAL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE TEACHING, FLINT HILL SCHOOL, OAKTON, VA
Ms. PARKER. Good morning, and thank you for inviting me to come and speak with you today. I believe that teachers are the most important factor in science education. Today I'm going to, in my statement, I've addressed three different issues: The science instruction by the classroom teacher; teacher preparation; and, I've done some thinking about why kids may become turned off by science as they get older.
There's been many changes that have taken place in the American culture today that have impacted upon the students and how they best learn. ''Sesame Street'' and ''Bill Nye the Science Guy'' have changed, among other things, how teachers have to teach. We can't teach the way we did when we went to school, or when I started teaching. I see three things that are necessary for better hands-on instruction in the classroom.
Good science textbooks that go with the science units. Teachers feel that they have to create an entire curriculum when they getthey don't havethey have so many things to do thatwhen you get even a kit to teach with, that kit doesn't have books to go with it. We need more things that coordinate together so that we don't have to pull so many things together.
Teacher training is not as good as it needs to be in every instance, both in college in preparation and also inonce you begin working in the curriculum that you're going to be teaching.
As far as instruction goes, I think every teacher should have as their primary goal to hear the students complain when science class is over, that either, ''Do we have to stop now,'' or, ''That was too much fun, that couldn't have been science class,'' or whatever class it is. So the activities have to be fun. The teacher has to have a sense of humor. We have to bewe have to work on student motivation, integrating the topics into all facets of education and developing thinking skills.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Those are the challenges that modern educators have to face. We're always looking for the ''aha'' experience where the kids make a discovery for themselves. That way they're going to develop a positive attitude toward science and towards learning how to learn.
Science has to be integrated into reading, into writing, into all areas of instruction. It should be taught in every class. It shouldn't be isolated by itself as science instruction.
The process skills which have been mentioned should come up in every unit that we teach, of classifying, data collection, keeping records, inferring, predicting, experimenting, constructing models, interpreting those models, identifying variables, controlling those variables, hypothesizing, and becoming thinkers and problem solvers.
The kids have to become aware that they are developing a procedure for asking and answering questions and that they're learning how to think. There's a proverb that I learned when I first began teaching which was: I hear, I forget; I see, I remember; I do, I understand. And I think that's true for teachers as well as students. They need that in their instruction.
I believe that the more hands-on experience that children have in a classroom, the better they'll perform on standardized tests such as the TIMSS report that's a hot topic these days. They need to be involved in active exploration. They need to discuss and communicate what they've learned effectively. Students are motivated by caring for live animals and the environment. They're interested in change. They want to learn how they can change the environment, so that they can improve things for themselves. The teacher needs to guide discovery, thinking about getting the children to think about what they've done and examine the process, and have fun at the same time. We have to be able to surprise the students with events and things to make them curious. We have to get them to say the ''oohs'' and the ''ahs.'' Science is for doing, more than it is for lecturing, even for the teacher, and the teacher must be willing to make mistakes in front of the students so that the students see that it doesn't always go perfectly every time.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I believe it would be great to have a class where we were actually teaching the parents so they could encourage and support science instruction. When we evaluate children, we need to evaluate them in a way that matches what they have been taught. That's another problem I see with the TIMSS study, I don't think it evaluates kids the way they've been taught.
I've talked to a lot of teachers around my school about teacher preparation, how were they prepared for their job as teachers, and I've heard some horror stories that go along with my horror stories as far as student teaching and how difficult that was. And one of the big things that has been helpful to a couple of teachers is setting up a network for new teachers, setting up mentors, people who would be their mentor during their beginning years of teaching to help them with teaching.
I also think that more colleges need to focus on effective teaching strategies. I think we teach teachers a lot about curriculum but we don't really teach them how to teach effectively and give them a chance to practice it. I think skillful teachers are made, they are not born, so we have to teach people how to do that.
Teachers who are teaching science need to have an opportunity to learn the unit that they are going to teach and practice it in a hands-on method so that they can practice with the materials as you have with your technology. You have to do it first to see how it works so you can have a more effective lesson, and that means that school systems have to train teachers, they have to have that opportunity to do hand's on activities. I think teachers should teach four to six units a year that are drawn into an in-depth discovery of that topic so that the children have a chance to go in their own direction and also that we have a chance to teach it in depth and do that process hands-on things that we really want to do instead of marching through material trying to cover it.
One course that I've taken for teachers that I really found effective was AIMS, and I don't know if you're familiar with this, but it's Activities to Integrate Math and Science is what the AIMS stands for and it's the Science Foundation that teaches teachers hands-on activities. It's a great place to learn good, hands-on activities that you can adapt into your grade level.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think a science lead teacher in the school would be an excellent way of helping people, someone who is willing to take on responsibility for being a facilitator, not the resident expert but someone who has a little more experience and who has been instructed in the curriculum and the hands-on activities, but then when somebody turns up, ''I can't get this to work, how am I going to do that?'', that's the person they know, someone they can go to who will be empathetic and help them solve their problems.
As far as the middle school students are concerned, I think that as children grow older, I believe that the teachers become more pressured or interested in covering material rather than dealing in depth with the topic in the way I have described. Sometimes I think, in some systemsand I'm sure it is not true of allthat it's an inch deep and a mile wide instead of digging deeply into a topic and really developing it and getting the kids to think, problem solve, do that critical thinking.
I have become aware of two programs that the middle school children deal with and one of them, Odyssey of the Mind, which is, students train for months with a teacher who is a sponsor. They're just a facilitator and they give them problems that they have to solve creatively and they have a great time doing it. And then there is a competition held where they meet with other schools and they solve problems and get points for how they do that.
Another one is Thinkquest, which is a technology, where the kids create a web page and enter it into a contest and the purpose of their web page is to teach other people about something, so that it could be about geography of the United States or it could be about buoyancy. But whatever it is, they are creating an interactive web page, and I know kids in Fairfax County, several schools have won the Odyssey of the Mind, so it can be very interesting and productive learning experience for the kids.
Mr. EHLERS. I am reluctant to interrupt, but could I ask you to wrap it up, fairly quickly?
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. PARKER. Yes, okay. In my testimony I have quotes from the middle school students which I think you will find very interesting and I have a question, if we have time, I was going to have my students, a few of them do a little quick science experiment that will take a minute or two, but if we don't time, we won't.
[The prepared statement and attachments of Ms. Parker follow:]
Insert offset folios 14-39
Mr. EHLERS. Let's go through everyone first and then we'll see how the time goes.
Next we have Dr. Krakauer.
STATEMENT OF THOMAS H. KRAKAUER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NORTH CAROLINA MUSEUM OF LIFE AND SCIENCE, DURHAM, NC
Mr. KRAKAUER. Thank you, and it is a great pleasure for me to be here today. What I'd like to do is to take the no-tech way of giving you a walk through my science center. You should have a copy of this set of color photos in your packet, and it won't buzz at you and, hopefully, it's in focus from the beginning.
In the upper-left corner what you will see is the first exhibit that visitors encounter in our museum, it's part of a National Science Foundation-funded exhibit called BodyTech. And as you walk into the space, the doorknob invites you to reach out and turn it. When you turn it, the bones exactly mirror the motions of your arm.
A 10-year-old might say, ''Oh, that's how it works.'' But by age 13, the response will be, ''That's what's insideoh, where's my funny bone?'' while parents will probably say, ''Tennis elbow.'' Other people with an interest in engineering and mechanics will look at the mechanism to try to see how the skeletal door opener works. The important thing is the individual is completely in charge of the learning experience.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC When educators and museum professionals talk about open-ended experience, this is what we mean. We teach people best what they almost already know. The empowerment of hands-on exhibits is critical because they allow a single experience to speak directly to a broad spectrum of visitors who differ in age, educational background, and personal experience. This is learning that celebrates success, it doesn't test for failure.
And it represents the ideal learning environment of individual exploration.
What's happening in the photo in the lower left corner? Well, as friends and family, parents and children make their way through the museumbecause everybody who has had an early experience in the museum will remember the social aspects of it. Who they went with, what they did. I even remember the first time I went to the American Museum of Natural History, the smell, the aroma of the hot chestnuts that my father bought me from the chestnut vendorthey'll encounter Nicole. Nicole is one of our teenage Youth Partners, and she's doing a science demonstration.
Nicole gains not only from being a teacher but in knowing that her work is valued. She is an integral part of the museum staff and the oh, my! that she sees on the faces of the visitors is positive reward and reinforcement for her knowledge and for her skilled communication. And this experience with using at-risk adolescents is repeated at science centers throughout the country through a national program called Youth Alive.
Our program for these underserved teenagers prompted another one of our youth partners, RaShanne Woods, to say, ''The Museum is like a second home to me and the other 170 Youth Partners at the Museum. We all have learned invaluable lessons from the Museum and we have reaped huge benefits. The Museum offers a source of hope and support that is usually hard to find in today's world. The Museum of Life and Science is a safe haven and an educational place to many young people trying to escape from being one of today's statistics.''
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC These were comments that RaShanne wrote in testimony for the Durham City Council and was important in our getting included in the Durham bond issue that Representative Etheridge mentioned. I should add that RaShanne grew up in a subsidized housing community in a single-parent family and she now has a full 4-year scholarship to Duke University. And what a wonderful success story.
Please join me in the upper left-hand corner illustration because that is a teacher workshop and that could be a workshop for in-service teachers, it could be a workshop that we offer for preservice teachers, and it could be a program that we offer statewide and nationally to the teachers of teachers in the museum community.
Teachers flock to science centers in similar institutions in astonishing numbers. Roughly 150,000 elementary teachers each year participate in hands-on science workshops and the reasons are clear. Students decide if science is going to part of their world by the 4th or 5th grade, yet elementary teachers have little preparation in science content.
In North Carolina, only about 8 percent of elementary teachers have had more than a single class in science since high school. I'll repeat that, in North Carolina, only about 8 percent of our elementary teachers have had more than a single class in science content since high school. And I doubt that figure differs region to region.
My institution has a full-time staff of 60 people, 30 of whom are in the education department. Many have degrees in science and engineering and backgrounds in teaching. We help teachers with the ideas and tips so that they can experiment with inquiry-based learning, the best practices. We help teachers become more confident about the subject matter so that they can teach the processes of science as well as the facts and integrate that into the curriculum.
The professional development of teachers requires those practical, nontheoretical applications to classroom situations in providing the teaching materials to back that up to create motivating lessons for teachers.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As Dr. Neal Lane, director of the National Science Foundation, has said, ''The path to any nation's scientific and technological capability is an early (pre-K), strong, and continuous math and science education for each and every student. The earlier it begins and the longer it lasts, the better for the individual and the nation.''
And I'd you to refer to the fourth illustration, in the lower right-hand corner, because science centers, organizations of informal science learning, blazed that pathway with content-rich programs for preschoolers. Science centers are playful places where open-ended exploration builds a pattern of asking the ''what if'' questions. Those questions are the heart of the love of science and that's the first step of nurturing science in a scientifically literate America.
We're all heard scientists say, ''I'm going to play in the lab.'' A science center is a laboratory. It is a laboratory where all visitors are given permission to investigate while surrounded by friends and families, where visitors can make the connections between what they personally know and what is new, and where they can have the authentic experiences with real objects.
We start with young children with real objects to create, as Dr. Lane has said, ''A universe of learning that is seamless between the inside and the outside of the school walls.'' That seamless universe holds the brightest promise to develop America's next generation of Americans with a deep and abiding love of science.
[The prepared statement and attachments of Mr. Krakauer follow:]
Insert offset folios 40-56
Mr. EHLERS. Thank you. Dr. Carey. Please pull the microphone a little closer. It does not pick up very well.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF SUSAN CAREY, DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, NEW YORK, NY
Ms. CAREY. Good. The last concerted national initiative to improve math and science education was in the 1960's in response to Sputnik. Prominent mathematicians and scientists joined forces with educators to analyze core concepts in mathematics and in the sciences and to work out a coherent timetable for developing these concepts and to work out many innovative curricular approaches for meeting this timetable, including a very firm commitment to hands-on and activities-based science.
In spite of this massive effort, math and science instruction in this country is now in a crisis, as we've heard. Many of the reasons for this have nothing to do with the shortcomings of the materials developed in the 1960's, but there was one crucial shortcoming, with the vast implications for the art and practice of educating our youngsters. Simply put, in the 1960's educators and psychologists misanalyzed the very problem math and science education must solve.
All good teachers have always realized that one must start where the student is. But since that time we have come to a completely new understanding of what that slogan means. Back then, where the student is was defined in terms of what the student lacked. This was seen as a lack of science content knowledge, combined with age-related limitations in general cognitive capacities, for example the elementary school child is a concrete thinker, not capable of abstract reasoning.
Now we understand that the main barrier to learning the curricular materials we so painstakingly developed is not what the student lacks, but rather what the student has. Namely, the student has alternative theories for understanding the very phenomena we're showing them. And I think that it is very important to note that not only that children are curious, that children are excited, children ask why, but in fact, children have very rich theories. And we face a problem in science education, which is a problem of conceptual change. Now I can't really give you a full sense of what I am talking about, but let me just give you a few examples of the analytic problem we face, because I think that we underestimate the magic bullet that hands-on and inquiring-based methods give us.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I'm really endorsing what many of the panelists have said, especially the importance of in-depth exploration and coming to build systematic understanding of particular phenomena.
It was said that we should be very careful about the vocabulary that we use and I completely agree. I'll just take weight as an example because it came up in several of the examples. If you just begin to explore children's understanding of weight, when you are talking about 3rd, 4th, 5th, through 8th graders, you will hear that a single grain of rice weighs nothing at all. That air is immaterial. That air and steel can both fill this glass at the same time. If I show you a small amount of steel and a bigger amount of aluminum and I show you that they balance, and I ask the child how is that possible, they will say, correctly, well the steel weighs more that the aluminum.
Then I will show two pieces of steel and aluminum exactly the same size and ask the child will these weigh the same or weigh differently, they will say they weigh the same because they weighed the same before, even though now they are the same volume.
What's going on here? Basically, these phenomena, if you explore them in depth, reveal an entirely different concept of weight, matter, air, lack of weight density differentiation, and those concepts the child has are embedded in a very systematic theory that does very good work in understanding the world.
And we face the problem in trying to teach them the target concepts that we are trying to get them to understand the phenomena of displacement, for example, of really getting them to change a whole set of theories. It's the same problem as the problem in the history of sciences.
Now this way of looking at things, when we see the child as a concrete thinker, we are missing the point in two ways. The child is a theoretical thinker. The 3-year-old is a theoretical thinker, but the theories they hold are more different from ours than we are aware of.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now this point has several implications and I'll just bullet them. First, the goal of education should be teaching for understanding and it can't be achieved without a diagnosis of children's initial understanding of content knowledge.
Second, a very important goal for basic research and cognitive development is to understand the mechanism underlying conceptual change because that is the solution to the problem that we face as teachers. And the good news is we actually have made a lot of progress on this and a lot is known and it is not being used in the schools in general. Of course, in many places it is.
Third, the culture of the classroom must be changed. Children must be engaged in building explanations and in constructing explanatory understanding all along.
Fourth, parallel issues arise in the study of how children understand the nature of scientific knowledge itself. As the elementary and middle school student sees it, gathering scientific knowledge presents no problem. We simply open our eyes, we simply experiment to see what happens. But students must be aware of the role of interpretative frameworks in guiding experimentation. Challenge of a conception of science as well as science content.
Finally teachers and science educators should reflect on the important and perhaps surprising consequences of looking at the problem of science education in terms of conceptual change. I've often heard teachers and science educators blame student misconceptions, like air is immaterial, or a grain of rice weighs nothing at all, on faulty education at an earlier stage in the curriculum. This is wrong. Student misconceptions are inevitable. Not having the target concepts is not an undesirable stage in students but an absolutely necessary one. Students will construct intermediate steps and misconceptions that do not conform with the views of developed science, and educators should recognize when these steps constitute progress, not problems.
Also students who appropriately understand what science education is all about will seize upon a lack of understanding as an opportunity, a reflection of a need for conceptual work rather than a humiliation, and that's part of the change of culture that I think that Sandra Parker was speaking about.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Finally, this picture has profound implications for education of science teachers. They must experience the kind of teaching that is being advocated. They need to experience and reflect upon the process of conceptual change themselves and the social settings in which each participant is contributing to a group's explanatory understanding of scientific phenomena.
They must themselves have the epistemology of science they need to instill in their students. And they must know their subject matter deeply, be aware of the range of alternative conceptual frameworks held by students at the age they teach.
I would conclude we have our work cut out for us.
[The prepared statement and attachments of Ms. Carey follow:]
Insert offset folios 57-76
Mr. EHLERS. Thank you very much. We will now proceed with the questions.
Mr. DAVIS. Mr. Chairman?
Mr. EHLERS. Yes.
Mr. DAVIS. I wonder if we can have the experiment now?
Mr. EHLERS. I'm going to yield my time for that, at least part of my time. Each of us gets 5 minutes. I just have a few comments to make and one question and then we'll let the children use the rest of my time.
First of all, I thank everyone for their comments. They were very helpful. Perhaps partly I feel that way because you've in general reinforced my prejudices about how to teach elementary school science, and so I agree with much of what you have said. I did want to comment specifically on two things, and I appreciate Mrs. Parker's comments about the nuts and bolts of the classroom. My experience in working with teachers, one of the single-most factors determining the success of the hands-on science program in the school is whether there is a lead teacher, as you call them, some person who can help the teachers with the equipment and particularly someone who will go out and buy replacement supplies, whether it is guppies or beans, or whether it it is someone who can fix a mechanical device which is not working. It's sometimes the mundane really is important in determining the success.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. Carey, when you talked about the issue of conceptual development, I was reminded of when my children were young, we had sweet rolls every Sunday morning for breakfast, from an excellent bakery near us. And they were large. I used to generally cut them in half, but not always, just so the children could handle them easily. One child always asked me to cut it in half and I assumed it was just so it would be easier for him to handle it. Until one day he said, please cut mine in half, so I'll have twice as much, which, as you know, is very common among children of that age.
My question to you, and you were talking about this, the theory of intellectual development I'm most familiar with is Piaget's, which has been around for a long time. Is that still held in high regard?
Ms. CAREY. This is a what I was claiming was a denial of one aspect of Piaget's theory. Piaget characterized sort of stages
Mr. EHLERS. Yes.
Ms. CAREY (continuing). Of cognitive development which were characterized in terms of the intellectual lacks of children of different ages, so preschool children lack certain logical capacity, incapacity to form abstract theories. That, I think, is simply seen to be false. But Piaget also was a master at diagnosing content understanding.
Mr. EHLERS. Right.
Ms. CAREY. And looking at knowledge developed as the constructive process by the child and a process of knowledge reorganization. And if you stay at the level of content, then I think those insights are still accepted. But I think the child as a concrete thinker has done more damage to the educational practice of the school than almost any idea that is out there. And so I think it is important to separate what is good in Piaget and what wasn't.
Mr. EHLERS. Thank you, and I will yield the rest of the time to your students, Mrs. Parker. Do you need a microphone?
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. PARKER. I included in my materials to you an electrical unit that I taught in 3rd grade and I'm now teaching 5th grade. These are my students, some of them I had in 3rd grade. And one of the major concepts that we want to get around to the kids is the fact that electricity travels in a circle, that it has to travel out of the battery, through the wires, and around to the bulb and then back to the battery and if you break some part of the circle, the circuit doesn't work and it's hard for the kids to get that and so what we've done is create a circuit.
I'm going to ask the guys to stand up.
[The students hold hands in a circle and, with a ball and other props, demonstrate the experiment.]
Ms. PARKER. Now I can explain until I am blue in the face, but when you hold hands, and get into a circle, and feel that, they will go to their graves knowing that electricity goes in circles.
Mr. EHLERS. Thank you very much and thank you children for the demonstration.
Next we will turn toMr. Brown has leftMr. Roemer.
Mr. ROEMER Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I guess in trying to follow up on that, Mrs. Parker, if I'd had you for a teacher, I might not be in Congress today. Maybe I would have understood those concepts a lot better and maybe I'd be in physics or flying to Mars, or something.
Mr. EHLERS. Or in the Space Station.
Mr. ROEMER. More fun. I've got my views on that, Mr. Chairman.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Laughter]
Mr. EHLERS. I know, that's why I mentioned it.
Mr. ROEMER. Very, very strongly felt.
Mr. Nye, I guess it is appropriate after that experiment from our young people to try to follow up on a question to you. But first of all, since you were just a little bit late coming, and I know you were at the White House, I have to say to you that before you came in, there was a lot of excitement in the room because you are so good at what you do and you are a TV star and being the father of three young children, Patrick, Matthew, and Sarah, I have got to say that I was one of the few people in the whole room that may not have been as excited as everybody else to see you because I see so much of you at home. And I've got to thank you for all you do.
Mr. NYE. Thank you. How old are your kids?
Mr. ROEMER. Five, three, and one, and the 5-year-old and the 3-year-old just think that you walk on water and they want to understand how that works scientifically and I have to shamefully ask you for an autograph before I leave for both my 5-and my 3-year-old. My 1-year-old doesn't quite understand that concept yet.
But let just say in terms of two questions that I have for whoever can answer the questions. And it was mentioned with the TIMSS test, that our 4th graders did pretty well on their tests, our 8th graders were mediocre at best and our 12th graders downright flunked. Now some of the success of the 4th graders might be attributable to some of the programs such as Sesame Street and your program, Mr. Nye, because we are communicating in good ways with our children.
How do we follow up on the success and some of the exciting things that you all do on TV to engage our young people into the 8th grade and the 12th grade, not to excite our students every day but to make them more knowledgeable about science. What kinds of lessons are we learning from Bill Nye The Science Guy and Sesame Street to follow up on in later grades?
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And my second question would be, particularly in high school, when we have these abysmal scores in the 12th grade one of the reasons, the Secretary of Education pointed out, is that half of our teachers, our physics teachers in high school, don't have a major or a minor in physics. So it comes back to better training for some of our teachers at the high school level teaching pretty complicated subjects.
The first question is how do we follow up on the good things that you are doing in the early levels to excite and inject knowledge and understanding into our young people. The second one is how do we improve our teacher education programs to challenge those older students in more innovative ways.
Mr. NYE. Well, I'd like to just address that, then defer to people who are more knowledgeable about the schools because I don't work directly in the schools. But I will just say that informal education, as it is generally called, which is what a television show would be, or a science center, informal education accounts for in the elementary levels about half of what you learn in science. It's very significant, and I am not responsible for that research, but I think when you get it is very compelling. And it's convincing.
So it's a very important component of what one learns as one grows up. Now the way to make this work, in my opinion, is to make the curriculum and what the television show or the science center gets across consistent. That would involve this mythical thing called national standards.
And the way I believe to make national standards work is to not have too many of them, agree on a few very important things that everyone should come to know before he or she is graduated from high school and make sure that those get across. Because I think part of the art and science of teaching is bringing what you know, what an individual teacher knows about a subject, to the classroom.
So if we can just agree on these standards, not to change the subject, I think that would help make all of these formal and informal sources consistent.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Then, I think, the fundamental way to improve science education is to bring in teachers who are knowledgeable in science and physics. Now if you are a young person graduating from college in engineering, you can expect to make around $45,000 a year. So if you want someone who is well trained in physics, for example, or chemistry, you have to expect to pay that person at least what an engineer is going to make, with all due respect. And so, since that apparently is not the case right now, I don't think we can expect much improvement until that changes.
Mr. ROEMER. Mrs. Parker, can you address either one of those questions?
Ms. PARKER. I agree with Bill Nye the Science Guy.
Mr. NYE. It's all one word, isn't it?
Ms. PARKER. Yes, it is.
Mr. ROEMER. It's a good thing to do in this hearing is to agree with him.
Ms. PARKER. I think what he said is true, I agree that we need national standards of some sort, whether they are legislative or whether they are just agreed upon, and I think as far as teacher training is concerned, I'm not so sure that it is absolutely necessary that the teacher who teaches physics have a degree in physics.
But I think that anyone who is willing to teach physics in high school, there needs to be an opportunity for some training on that and that's where the places such as hands-on learning centers can really be a big help and it needs to be focused on, it needs to be part of teacher curriculum, ''How am I going to teach this, I'm not an expert at it.'' I don't believe teachers have to be experts. In science I think it is difficult to be the experts. The world is changing every day, the information is growing exponentially and it's not even required that they be the experts.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If a child asks me a question that I don't the answer, that's fine I can say I haven't got a clue but how can we figure this, what can we do? And that's part of the learning process in itself, right there, is me saying I don't know but I'm sure we can figure something out together and solve that problem. I don't think the teacher has to be the expert. That's a problem in elementary school. I think that's why some teachers shy away from teaching science is they think, well I didn't do well in science, I can't do that very well, it's not important. You have to be just willing to get your feet wet, make a little bit of a mess, and have some fun and say, ''I really don't know, but I can certainly help you find out.''
Mr. EHLERS. The gentleman's time has expired.
Mr. ROEMER. I thank the Chairman.
Mr. EHLERS. Mr. Gutknecht.
Mr. GUTKNECHT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I want to thank the Chairman and the staff for assembling a really very interesting and important panel. I want to follow up on the questioning here because I think this is disturbing and I'm not certain how much the Federal Government can ultimately do about this because I see this happening in my own schools and as a former member of the state Legislature. What I saw so often was it seems that no matter how much we appropriated for education, no matter how much we increased the basic education formula, that there was within the school districts and the bargaining units in the school districts, there was a pressure to push that even higher.
In other words, if we appropriated a 6 percent increase, that wage demands would be 7 or 8 percent, or even 9. And what happens so often, and I'm not certain how we solve this problem, but you may have, and at the end of this whole process, there would be at least a few teachers who would be laid off. Unfortunately sometimes those were the best teachers. It had nothing to do with their qualifications. What I'm saying here is that if you end up in a situation where you'll lay off some teachers, you got a phys ed instructor who has 5 years of experience, you've got a very good science instructor who's got 2 years of experience, guess who gets laid off. And I'm wondering, and this is just an observation, I'm not sure you can even comment on this, but it seems to me, in terms of attracting more good, young people into science and mathematics instruction, is there anything we can do about that particular problem here at the federal level?
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. KRAKAUER. Yes, I think there definitely is. I think what we have seen is that we are trying to make a shift to more of an inquiry-based instruction from a vocabulary, memory-based pattern of instruction so the federal initiative could be to support the professional development of teachers to try and undo some of the things that they have learned in their college careers.
And this can't be a, you know, a one-afternoon workshop. They have got to be teacher institutes, they have got to be long-term things. One of the most exciting programs that we offered, we got a small amount of grant funding and offered some teachers sabbaticals. And we had some teachers who were part of the museum staff for a full semester and so that teacher really had the opportunity to understand, internalize, and then be able to apply the inquiry-based instruction.
One of the teachers went back to her classroom, well they all went back and became lead teachers, but one convinced the principal to set up a small science resource center in her own school to support the other teachers. So, that sort of showed both the sharing of model programs that are out there that have worked to do the professional development and also some special things, like the teacher sabbatical or the teacher enhancement program and informal science Ed used to do, a lot of teacher internships that were held in science centers.
Mr. GUTKNECHT. Mrs. Parker will you respond to that basic point I made. Am I off base? Has that happened in other States?
Ms. PARKER. I think thatI'm not sure. We need to be able to have good science teachers and you can't be laying off teachers because we want to do a better job of teaching. That's totally illogical to me. We have to set our priorities and we have to decide what we are going to do. I do believe the teacher is the most important aspect of science and mathematics education. So, if we can't train the teachers better and pay them better, then we're going to have a problem.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GUTKNECHT. My point wasn't that we shouldn't pay teachers better. It's like no matter that we appropriated, the salary range that they came in at was more than we'd appropriated and it meant that teachers had to be laid off. This had to do with the way the schools are run today and it had little to do with what the State and Federal Government did.
Ms. PARKER. I'm not sure I can address that.
Mr. GUTKNECHT. Okay.
Ms. CAREY. I'd like to second what Dr. Krakauer said. I ran a teacher training program at MIT for many years and we were graduating almost all of the people in the State of Massachusetts who were going into math and science education. The statistics, someone said, 8 percent of science teachers hadn't even had one semester of science. I think that's very general, but you can do this in the school with something less.
We've run whole sabbaticals. That's very expensive. But what we did, was just buy out one period a day for teachers to be released to get together and explore their own understanding of physics or math. At first this is very threatening. It is threatening to realize, ''I don't really understand this content material.'' And what you want to do is get them over that reaction to, ''Boy it's really exciting. I don't understand this concept and here's what I do to come to that State from not understanding to understanding it.''
People have to experience that to be able to teach that way. And it takes time.
Mr. GUTKNECHT. Could you tell us, of all of the people you've trained, how many of them, can you go back 10 years and say how many are still teaching science.
The other experience I've had is a lot of these teachers would teach for 2 years and then they would go to work for IBM?
Ms. CAREY. No, no. They are all either still teaching science or they are training people to teach science.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. EHLERS. The gentleman's time has expired so if you could wrap up.
Ms. CAREY. One other statistic. Somebody mentioned that we are particularly at the bottom in physics. We know how to teach physics at the high school level. In fact at the junior high school level. We as a science education community know. It's not being done. One of the brilliant teachers, Jim Minstrel, I don't know if you know him, he's from Mercer County in Seattle. When he teaches physics, 80 percent of the students in his high school take it. Equally boys and girls, equally males and females, instead of the usual 2 percent, and he teaches it from this teach-from-understanding point of view.
We do know how to do it, but it is hard to do and it's hard to get it into the schools, so there is bad news as far as our success but there is good news as far as what we understand how to do, if we can get it.
Mr. EHLERS. The gentleman's time has expired.
Mr. DOYLE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for holding this hearing and thank you to the panelists here today. As the father of four childrenI've got one in college, two in high school, and one in elementary schoolI think this is a very important discussion and Bill Nye the Science Guy, I agree with what you said. A school should be an attractive, well-maintained place. I represent a District in western Pennsylvania and the way we fund public education in my State, I think is criminal. Because we do it through property taxes and it creates huge disparities in the District. I represent suburban Pittsburgh. I have the wealthiest suburb in Pittsburgh and the poorest and everything in between. And when I go to different schools in my District and see one school district with computers, built-in swimming pools, Astroturf football fields, computers, and then just 10 miles down the road another school where roofs are leaking, no computers. We donated our old surplus computers to one of the school districts in my District that has never had a computer before. I think it is absolutely criminal.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We talk about trying to attract kids in the math and science professions and when you look at some of the areas where the most at-risk kids are, in inner cities in this country, their dream to get out of those cities is to become a professional athlete, yet maybe for every 10,000 kids that think they are going to be the next Michael Jordan, only one of them makes it into the NBA. And just last week we listened to a seminar where we had CEOs from high-tech companies, information technology companies, tell us they have 350,000 openings in the information technology field and we don't have the people in the country to fill them. We are turning out about 24,000 students each year with computer science degrees, and they need about 45,000, and they are asking us to ease immigration restrictions to bring people from other countries into the United States to fill these jobs.
It's absolutely criminal.
I am going to give each of you a minute because I've got five and now you have less than a minute each. Maybe just give us a sense of what you would do and let me just say before you say it, I think there is a role of the Federal Government and that is to level the playing field and provide resources. Some of the communities that need the most help are the poorest communities that don't have the property tax base and the wage tax base to fund their schools and their facilities and it's unequal education in the country as a result, so I think I see us providing resources to those area. But what would each of you do to either change, or eliminate, or create in federal policy, if you had a chance to do, that would address this issue of maintaining interest in math and science with our young children.
What do you see the federal role in that and if you could each maybe take 45 seconds to talk about that.
Mr. NYE. Who wants to go.
Mr. SCHNEIDER, You're up.
Mr. NYE. Let me say, to address that and the previous thing. We look to you. I'm a voter and I'm hiring you people to solve these problems, with all due respect. Okay, what it takes is leadership. This business of the rich neighborhoods having better schools than the poor neighborhoods is ancient. It is centuries old. This takes leadership to compel people that it is really in their best interest to change this, it is really in everyone's best interest not to have poor people not getting good educations. And in a society that is increasingly dependent on science and technology, we are headed for disaster if we do not get everyone with a minimum of a science understanding of the world. And so, I am doing absolutely all I can every day to change the world, but I really look to everyone in all branches of government to lead people to make sure that everyone makes a good education.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SCHNEIDER. Schooling is a local issue of course and the States set the rules in their own States. The Federal Government can still, it seems to me, take a certain kind of leadership in these issues.
Mr. DOYLE. Such as?
Mr. SCHNEIDER. Teacher education is one of the key points here. All of this discussion about staff development and teacher education and teacher training is essentially talking about remedial education. We're putting our teachers through an education college. Wouldn't it be better if they came out of college prepared in the ways that we're talking about.
So, what I might say is one thing you could do is take some leadership on the teacher education, teacher preparation issue, get us out of the remedial education business for teachers. Now we in the informal education community can provide some support and backing for that. We look to you for the leadership.
Mr. EHLERS. Mrs. Parker, do you have any comment?
Ms. PARKER. I second. I think that if you were going to work on the area of teacher preparation that the best thing you could do would be to provide opportunity and funds for teachers to have experience in an internship where they spend maybe a year in a classroom under the mentorship, under another teacher, and were paid while they did it and they really learned something in the process instead of the short student teaching experience.
Mr. EHLERS. Dr. Krakauer.
Mr. KRAKAUER. Yes. I'd like to say ditto, but I'd like to say ditto plus. We've known for years that the best predictor of a student's educational accomplishment is the educational level of their parents. We can't affect a child's choice of his parents. That's the hand they are dealt. But programs such as Youth Partners and mentorships and things of that sort can create a nurturing environment where students can see themselves in success roles, where they can see themselves as being involved in a scientific enterprise in a way that no member of their family may ever have been. And if I would do one thing in addition to, I think Mr. Riley suggested this morning in the LA Times saying we should reform the way teachers are taught, but we have got to do something that can support kids who otherwise will drop through the net because they don't have anybody in their environment who has succeeded in science and there are proven models that can do that.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. EHLERS. Dr. Carey.
Ms. CAREY. This is going to sound self-serving, but I think it is very important also to continue to fund basic research in how children learn. That said, there are still really fundamental scientific questions that education is the application of. That being said, I actually think that the problem of getting what is already known into the school and into the lives of children is much faster.
Mr. EHLERS. Thank you all very much. The gentleman's time is expired.
I would just respond, Mr. Doyle, to the question. We faced that in Michigan when I was in the legislature and Mrs. Stabenow also, and I understand it was her motion that cut the property tax by 40 percent statewide and forced the issue. We then had a statewide referendum to increase the sales tax to make up the difference, but the sales tax money was allocated equally on a per-student basis whereas the property was not.
That has had a good effect, but didn't go all the way.
Mr. Cook, the gentleman from Utah.
Mr. COOK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Again, I want to add my voice to those who are very grateful for this testimony. It is a very impressive panel and I'm very interested in the things you've had to say. Mr. Nye I was intrigued with what you said about the metric system, the fact that we are the only country, there's 10?
Mr. NYE. That's where it came from. We have 10 fingers. No mystery.
Mr. COOK. Congress obviously has had the opportunity to do something about that. We blink. We are not, because after bowing to political pressure we decided not to try to put this country on a metric system. How important is that for high school kids and how reflective are these poor test scores compared internationally, do you think, that we don't operate on a metric system in this country. How much influence does that have?
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. NYE. Well, the metric system is much easier to use. You make a lot fewer mistakes when you use a metric system, that's why scientists embrace it. I'm not an expert on this but I submit if students are still having to do problems in pounds and pints they just make more mistakes and that gets in the way of the learning, but I'm not an expert on that. I can just tell you.
Ms. CAREY. I believe nationally the science curriculum is already in the metric system.
Mr. NYE. Yes, but I say if you go to the hardware store to buy equipment to set up a demonstration for yourself and you have to make continual conversions from old-style English units to international units, it has to get in the way. I'm skeptical if it doesn't.
Mr. COOK. And let me also ask a question relating to the basic infrastructure in this country. The decision Congress made a few years ago to stop the Superconducting Super Collider. Now we have lost many, many opportunities for the young physics students, that are graduating. In fact I don't even think they are taking it as much right now in graduate school and in undergraduate.
Mr. NYE. Particle physics, you mean?
Mr. COOK. Yes. Particle physics, this sort of thing. Let's compare it to a situation with the National Basketball Association. We see a lot of kids very impressed with the opportunities that they see on television. The fact that we are losing, in the opinion of many physicists around our country, that infrastructure of physics research, and development, and everything else. Does that have an impact on these educational trends, what young kids are really interested in, and what carries on through the high school?
Mr. NYE. Well, a couple of things along those lines from my point of view. As my show originally was not funded by Public Broadcasting or by Disney, originally the funding came from the Department of Energy. And the Department of EnergyI'm not an expert on this and I saw Mr. Stevens herewas acting in its own best interest for the future. They wanted to get people in the pipeline so they will have people to solve their problems. I guess what I'm driving at is it is in society's best interest to have these people get into the pipeline and a Superconducting Super Collider certainly would have provided employment for physicists. And what I say to people is if you learn science, if you become technically competent, for example become an engineer, you will have a way to make a good living. And it doesn't matter who taught you the science if you learn it. Yes, of course, it's a big problem.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I guess you asked two questions there. I'd say that canceling the Superconducting Super Collider was fundamentally misguided. All we had there was an opportunity to learn the secrets of the universe and now we won't do that. That's okay. Someone in another country will do it and we'll learn the words for the subatomic particles in another language. That's okay.
Mr. COOK. Well, the impact even affects our educational problems.
Mr. NYE. And another thing is that this kind of government program, like [National] Aeronautics and Space Administration or like National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, provides employment for people and satellite employment in technical fields and so the more of those programs you cancel, I guess, the worse it is.
Mr. COOK. If I could ask Mrs. Parker. Following up on a question from my colleague from Minnesota. In my State, in Utah, schools are unable to offer starting teachers different salaries depending on their majors. Now industry is offering physics, computer, and math graduates of the University of Utah significantly different and higher salaries than the political science majors. I'm not putting down that major, or a history major, I'm not putting down that major, but the schools are unable, in my State, and I probably think that's because of teachers unions and other requirements probably true in many States, that I really sense that the teacher and the commitment of the knowledge, the major of the teacher, the real intensity of the feeling for science of the teacher, whether it's in elementary school, certainly in high school where we don't have enough physics teachers from all the testimony we've been hearing in many different hearings I've been at. Isn't that something that will have to change is we're going to improve these test scores of our high school kids?
Ms. PARKER. What has to change? The ability to pay?
Mr. COOK. The way salaries are offered for beginning teachers. If we're having a shortage of physics teachers, vis-a-vis history or English teachers, and they are very important and I'm not putting them down. Ms. PARKER. I understand.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. COOK. Don't we have to have a little bit more flexibility in our local school districts to get away from some of these teachers' union rules that might cause, I'm not trying to get you too political, but don't you have to have the same flexibility that industry has to offer a salary to get what you need to straighten out this problem? We've been, and by the way we've been talking about this problem since I've been in high school because even though I think the test scores of math were probably higher back in the 196465 period when I was graduating we still ranked behind other States way back then, we still, today, rank. This has been a problem for us for a long time and we have not come even close to solving it.
I'm just wondering, can't we get the flexibility, can you, as one of the star science teachers of this country, do something to lead a crusade to start getting more star science teachers all around this country? You have got to do something different.
Ms. PARKER. The way things exist right now, if you go into education, you are doing it for love of education, not for salary or for the other benefits.
Mr. COOK. Yes. That's okay, but it's not working.
Ms. PARKER. Correct.
Mr. COOK. I commend all of you teachers. Can't we at least get somebody to say what industry would say that we do possibly need to have some difference in the salary offerings?
Mr. EHLERS. The gentlemen's time has expired. If you can give a brief response. The basic point is we have to offer competitive salaries and this has been a problem for some time. Now it is true there are some unemployed Ph.D. physicists who could be attracted to teaching high school physics and you might think about that.
Mr. Nye, quickly.
Mr. NYE. I think along with that, it is important to offer competitive work places. You don't attract people to come to work at a place that is hard to work, it's not well maintained, and there are not resources. And this is, I think human nature.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. EHLERS. That's a good point, but we are going to have to move on from this one.
Mr. Etheridge, next.
Mr. ETHERIDGE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me pick up at an area that Mr. Nye left because that's an area that I feel very strongly about, having been a superintendent for 8 years. I can't imagine any business, nor any chamber of commerce, inviting a prospective client into their town and carrying them to a run-down warehouse where weeds are growing up around it, well schools don't have that, but an area that is not attractive, and saying, ''We want you to bring your new business here with all of these new employees and this is the place.'' The quality of the facility makes no difference. It's the quality of what comes out of it.
That's the ludicrous thing you've ever heard of and we, at every level of government from Washington on down, have a responsibility to stand up and acknowledge we aren't doing the job and we are going to put some money behind it.
And quit saying, well, it's not our responsibility. These children are all of us' responsibility and we need to deal with it.
Thank you for making that statement and I appreciate it. I feel very strongly about it. I believe that education is the way we level the playing field and science is a critical mass to making sure that in the future the economic opportunities are going to be there as well.
Let me ask two questions if I may, Mr. Chairman, and let me also thank you profusely for making sure these hearings are held. I think it is so important and I hope that we will use the report that has just come out as a wake-up call and not a way for bashing people or individuals or groups. It is a wake-up call that we need to pay attention to.
I would like to ask Mr. Krakauer this question, then I have a general question for each one. And it deals with science centers and museums which you are a part of. Do you compare and share the best practices and techniques and the successful outcomes that you have been able to use and generate in North Carolina with others across our State and across the country?
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. KRAKAUER. I think that's really one of the strengths of the science center field and that's where the federal initiative has got some real multipliers. Because an investment in a program in one center is almost immediately disseminated to other science centers, whether it is an exhibit that we develop and components are copied or best educational practices, so, yes, we do disseminate.
I think one of the federal initiatives, and I am following up on your question, is that there could be centers of excellence or a real concentrated effort to find a way to disseminate best practices so that they could be available throughout the country. And it may be through outreach vans to rural Utah, it may be through setting up satellite science centers in Michigan, or it may be through a resident internship, but we are all there and we are all willing to share.
Mr. ETHERIDGE. Thank you, let me ask each of you very briefly to touch on the next one because we are working in North Carolina to do a better job of teacher preparation, as you well know, and it has been a joint effort between our public schools and universities and we certainly aren't there.
What really needs to happen to ensure that student achievement is strengthened through K12. Now we know we talked about here about 4th and 8th grades because we had the math standards several years ago and I know in our State we used it and we assessed it and North Carolina is one of the few States, as you know, Mr. Chairman, where we've seen tremendous growth in math. I think these assessments and standards are important, but what do you each individually feel we need to do?
I have some ideas myself, but I'd like to hear from you, not necessarily at Congress, but at each level to make that happen for our students at the K12 level.
Mr. EHLERS. We'll start from the other end this time, Dr. Carey, and ask you each to be brief since the gentleman's time has almost expired.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. CAREY. I think that we've all just repeated what we've said before, but the most important thing is that the teachers experience the kind of teaching you want them to do. And they are not at the moment. Not only are they not taking science, but if they do take science, they experience taking science as the passive, the lecturer up there. College teaching of science is among the worst teaching of science that goes on at the moment so having them take science in college is necessary, but it sure isn't sufficient.
Mr. ETHERIDGE. It's analytical and not applied.
Ms. CAREY. That it's changing the culture of what we are trying to achieve in science education through teacher preparation.
Mr. KRAKAUER. North Carolina is one of 13 States that have done away with the end-of-grade test in science and the teachers are being rewarded for test scores in reading and mathematics and because of the lack of appropriate training of the teachers in science, they don't teach it any more.
Far be it from me to say that the old style or the current style standardized tests are the answer but by doing away with end of grade tests we abrogated, and if I get a chance later, I'd like to talk about self-contained classrooms.
Ms. PARKER. I just want to echo what Dr. Carey said. I think she caught the essence of it. You really have to improve that and the hands-on instruction for the teachers. I agree.
Mr. ETHERIDGE. Dr. Schneider.
Mr. SCHNEIDER. I applaud the State of North Carolina in its initiatives in mathematics and science education and education in general in these last 5 to 10 years. They have made enormous strides there and you have been working very hard on the teacher preparation issue, which is, as I said earlier I think, is a critical and a key issue for us to be thinking about. We areregardless of this salary issuewe are attracting large numbers of people into teaching. We need to see to it that they are properly and well-prepared to deal with the subject areas, mathematics and science in particular.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ETHERIDGE. Mr. Nye.
Mr. NYE. Thank you. By example, some of the funding for my show comes from the National Science Foundation and by mandate we send a teacher packet to every 4th grade teacher in the countrythese are public school teachers. And the idea is that the money is not allocated to informal education unless it is connected to formal education. And I think it's terrific. And so the way to do that, I'll say again, I think is to make the objectives, what you are trying to get across in science education consistent, which would be again, these national standards.
And I just want to point out that in the countries that we are competing with, like Japan, Sweden, and the other countries that do better than the United States in science education, they are all learning this stuff in public schools, so I think the real focus, at least at the federal level, might just go ahead and be in public schools only. That would be a good way to focus. So tying informal education and formal education is, I think, a good way, legal thing to do.
Mr. EHLERS. Thank you. The gentleman's time has expired. Mr. Ewing.
Mr. EWING. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you to the panel for very interesting testimony.
Several questions back, there was a question and somebody answered, I think it was you Mrs. Parker, about standards. Standards need to be set. I either missed the first part of the response. Where are we talking about setting standards. Who would set standards, if I heard right?
Ms. PARKER. I think it was Bill Nye who brought it up but I seconded his motion. I think that national standards don't have to be terribly detailed, but they need to be broad and they need to be clear so that we could all be on the same page and all know what was expected and it would make it very easy. When I was talking originally I talked about choosing specific units and zeroing in on them and doing them in depth instead of trying to go a mile wide and an inch deep.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think that if you had national standards, that would facilitate being able to select important topics to deal with in depth.
Mr. EWING. Those standards, are you talking about standards for training the teachers, or standards for the curriculum that we would teach in our elementary schools?
Ms. PARKER. I was talking about curriculum.
Mr. EWING. Curriculum standards and not necessarily in teacher training, then?
Ms. PARKER. In teacher training, I think that teachers need to learn more about how to teach and how to excite and how to generate. When Dr. Carey mentioned that the teacher in Seattle that 80 percent of the students wanted to take physics, that could have been personality and a lot of things, but I think probably he was practicing good teaching and that if more teachers were aware of what generates this excitement and practical ways to apply it, I think it would really raise the learning of the children.
Mr. EWING. Do you believe that the problem we're having with children being able to read can't help but affect other educational endeavors? Do you think that that's part of the problem, that as the children progress, this is to any on the panel, that our ability to teach reading has not been very successful? Anybody?
Ms. PARKER. I think science would be a good way to attack that with kids who are experiencing difficulties. My theory is that by integrating science into the reading, you are actually getting kids who may have some difficulty in other areas, but have prior knowledge about science and it gets them, I really think, to improve their reading.
Ms. CAREY. Also the other way around. Another educational innovation that works and has been adopted in some whole States, but should be adopted everywhere, was a method of teaching reading, which was teaching for understanding. And the idea was that students model for each other, asking questions of what they were reading. So, it was very heavily scaffolded at the beginning, and then gradually the students took it over.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This method of teaching reading, which is teaching reading for understanding, not teaching reading to decode the sentences, was started in 1st grade and it had massive effects on achievement scores and subject matter. So, I think you are absolutely right, they mutually reinforce each other.
Let me just add one other thing that I think is important that arose here. It is very important, not only that there be standards of what should be taught at the age range but that it be assessed. Because assessment does drive what teachers do. That is, if their kids are not going to be assessed whether they have learned what is supposed to be in the standard, there is no motivation for them to do it. So assessment drives to some extent what happens in the process.
Mr. EWING. I would just pose just one other question to anybody or to all of you on the panel, if I have time left. If we are not doing up to par on reading, and we are not doing up to par on science, I assume, maybe there are tests out there that show we are not doing up to par on math. What will we do with the school system that doesn't seem to be succeeding in any of the basics. Do we use choice? Do we put competition into the school system so a parent can take their child to a school where he can excel? Really we can identify the problems? What simply is the solution? In our State we spend twice as much money in the poorer schools in our State than we do in some of our better schools. I don't think you can just write it off as money. Those are inner city schools, but we're spending twice as much per student and certainly we're not getting as good a result in most of them.
Mr. EHLERS. Any responses to that?
Ms. CAREY. This is your job.
Mr. NYE. Yes.
Mr. SCHNEIDER. We keep circling back to fundamental issues here in our comments, I think. It's not appropriate, it seems to me, speaking personally now, to flee the problem but rather to work to correct the problems and I wouldn't repeat myself or repeat any other comments about issues that we've brought up in ways to correct the problems on mathematics and science education.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. EWING. Well, I would just close. Mr. Nye, yes, it is our responsibility but we are leaders and we have to lead the people we are sent here to make decisions for and if they are not following us, it won't do much. So it is a combination and we accept that responsibility. There is a great division in this Congress over what to do about education as there are in most legislative bodies around this country. I'm just trying to find answers so that I can lead.
Mr. NYE. I'd say you have to hire educators at the highest level that you trust and believe in and they would hire educators at the next level and administrators at the next level down that they trust and believe in and down until you have competent teachers and competent students ultimately,
Ms. PARKER. I have one little thing to say. That is, I have some difficulty with vouchers and things like that for schools and I think that might undermine the public school system. However the issue of choice has one intriguing quality to it and that is if parents had more choice which schools within in the public schools they attended, they would be more invested in making that choice become successful for their child. And I think that, besides teachers, the parents have such a huge role as far as valuing education and just the fact of choosing the school and whether it is because you move into the neighborhood because you know that's a good school, that's a form of choice also.
I think that invests that parent a little bit more into the education of their child and we have to engage the parents. They have to be partners. If they are not partners, you're right. We're leading and nobody's following. That happens to me in the classroom all the time.
Mr. EHLERS. The gentleman's time has expired.
Mrs. Stabenow is next.
Ms. STABENOW. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing. This is an incredibly important subject. Many thoughts go through my mind as serious questions have been asked and as a strong advocate for public education, I agree we don't walk away from the problem, the roof is fixed, we fix the roof, we don't change to another school building.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC A couple of comments and questions about teacher preparedness again. The training of teachers which is so critical. The support of teachers. And certainly I wish we were paying teachers what basketball players make, it would be an interesting way to do business in this country if we were paying people according to what we have said their value is to society, but that's an editorial comment.
I have set up in my District in Michigan a science and math advisory committee. We started out focusing on activities for young people and their parents and space days and bringing astronauts into the district and so on. But the advisory committee basically said the same thing to me that you are saying.
And we had people from Impressions Five Museum, which is a wonderful hands-on museum in Lansing, Michigan, people from all around my District, educators, and people that represent resources, they said we have got to provide exciting opportunities for teachers, that teachers, to be able to learn, to be able to integrate, to offer new ideas for curriculum as well as teaching teachers in the university system.
I've often heard people say that teachers won't come to that on their time. We held one event at Michigan State University at the planetarium after school, invited teachers from many miles around to come with their children after school if they wished and we had 100 people come on their own time, wanting to have some opportunity to learn about astronomy and how to teach it in a way and provide new ideas for them in their science curriculum. So I believe that if the opportunities are there, that teachers are ready, willing, eager to participate in those.
And that would lead me to my question. When we looked at what needs to be done, I am wondering how many of you are involved in that process, whether there are both opportunities going on at the museum or if you are also engaging through the children's television network in any discussions on specific curriculum at the universities as we look at what needs to happen. There is a lot of work to do, both in training, teaching teachers to teach in a variety of ways, new methods, new ways, technology, a variety of things that need to happen as well as professional development opportunities for teachers. And I'm wondering if any of you are directly involved in making those experiences happen right now.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SCHNEIDER. At CTW we have definitely been involved in this way. As Bill mentioned earlier we need to connect with the informal science education community, the formal, the schools, etc., and we do that.
In the context of 321 Contact, our science series, 240 half hours and Square One TV, our mathematics series, 210 half hours is a large open-circuit broadcast, a product, we also made school versions of each of those two series together with extensive teachers manuals and an elaborate system of delivery to school teachers to help them use these materials as supplements to their standard math or science curriculum in the schools. So we've been involved with them. We've found that this has been quite effective as a way of providing extra materials that were useful and effective for teachers in the schools.
Ms. STABENOW. Let me ask one additional question, though. In terms of the universities, in terms of curriculums for teaching teachers, have you been involved at that level?
Mr. SCHNEIDER. It's a little tougher to crack, actually. We've had some involvement with several university faculties of teacher education, Queens Collegethe others don't come to mind at the momentbut the materials that I just described have been found useful and we've been trying to foment programs where they would be part of the programs. The problem is, of course, is that academic programs are full anyway and getting involved with redesigning the preparation of school teachers is a difficult and tricky process.
Ms. STABENOW. Thank you.
Mr. KRAKAUER. First I want to congratulate and thank you for your involvement in the founding of Impression Five. I know it's a labor of love and a great success story because it is one of the premiere institutions.
And to answer your specific question, yes. Science centers around the country are working with preservice teachers. We work with North Carolina Central University, which is a historically Black university. We also work with the University of North Carolina's math science education network and we work with their preservice teachers and so, yes, we are definitely involved in helping to put forth the vision that we all are saying about the inquiry-based learning. Twas a time when the teachers in what were known as normal schools were the master teachers. And after many years of experience in the classroom they went to the college and university.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That's not the situation anymore and what is being modeled is the face front, benches in a row, college and university teaching which doesn't work in the classroom in terms of motivating people in terms to see themselves as being part of the discipline.
So, yes, we are trying to do an end run and work with those teacher education programs and it is frankly going to take some organization to be funded outside of the bureaucracy to make the sort of institutional changes that you and we are all looking for. It is not going to flow from the vested interest.
Mr. EHLERS. The gentleman's time has expired.
We'll recognize Mr. Salmon next.
Mr. SALMON. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I think my comments and questions are not just those of a frustrated policy maker but also of a frustrated parent with children who are in the public schools. I have a child in elementary school, one in middle school, and two in high school. My oldest daughter is 17 and a junior in high school, and again in the public school in my State and all her life she's had a 4.0 grade point average and now that she's a junior in high school and taking chemistry, she's fallen below the mark and she's very frustrated.
As I've come to learn a little bit more about her teacher's teaching style, I can understand why she is falling behind. Number one, I think the teacher is probably about as exciting as watching paint dry. I think that is part of the problem. I think there still is some sexism when it comes to the math and sciences. I think that many of our teachers, who may be males, are treating our daughters like math and science is not for women. I think that's a problem. I see it, at least I've seen it with my child's education. And I also feel that they are not breaking outside the existing paradigms.
I've been on the Arizona Science Foundation Board, we just created a beautiful facility in Phoenix to give children in the schools hands-on experience coming into the science center. It is wonderful. They can come in and actually do like you just did Mrs. Parker, give the children a hand's-on opportunity that will stick with them throughout their life because it's not just regurgitation of textbook facts, it's actually some hands-on experience that they can see applies to the real world. And I think that is one of the innovations we've got to inbreed into the education process as we go forward.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I'm very concerned, as some of the other questioners up here have been, about the TIMSS report. The fact that we scored below countries like Slovinia in the math and sciences test, a far poorer nation than we are. And yet, and I'm sure, again, you go back to finding out how much dollars per pupil is spent in Slovinia versus this country. I am interested in those facts and I have asked the Congressional Research Service to research many of those issues in the countries that beat us to find out what is the ratio of students per teacher, what is the average salary of a teacher, what is the per-capita spending per student.
Those are some of the questions that I will be asking them to conduct a study on so that we can learn from these other countries who are beating us. Now I am also very fortunate because I have a university in my District, a very, very wonderful university, which is trying some innovative things in integrating the K12 with the university so the would-be teachers aren't just working in a vacuum. They are working not only with the teachers out in the K12 but they are having students come over to the university interface and they are getting some real-world experience and it is really positive. But I don't think there is enough of that going on. I don't think there is enough sharing of ideas between the various entities involved in education, otherwise why would we be doing so poorly?
And I will get to my question part of this. But I also have a high-tech industry in my District that is significantly large. Intel has one of their major headquarters in my District, Motorola does, Honeywell, Boeing, and they come to me crying about the fact that they want more visas so that they can bring foreign graduates in to work for them because they don't have enough qualified people in this country who are well educated in the math and sciences to come and work for them. It's a problem. And then I go to my university, Arizona State, and find that over half of the College of Engineering are students from foreign countries because we aren't teaching our children well enough.
The answer back here is, give us more power at the federal Department of Education. Well, then, I hear from my school board back home, and the folks down in the trenches, we're getting 56 percent of our mandates yet only 5 percent of the funding, and we're dying on the vine. Give us a little bit more flexibility. We can come up with some answers, but stop this one-size-fits-all approach; give us more flexibility.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Those are the things that we as policymakers hearand then we bring experts like you in, and you give great testimony, great testimony, but kind of put the ball in our lap. Well, we don't have the answers. We all have to roll up our sleeves and work on this together.
And I guess my question is, number one: Why do students get turned off? Why do they have the aptitudes and do well in the initial years, in their primary education, but as they get progressively older they get turned off and they lose it?
And then another question is the teacher certification requirements. Right now, under our teacher certification requirements, I don't think that Albert Einstein would be able to teach in most of our schools because he wouldn't qualify; he's not certified. Bill Gates probably wouldn't be able to teach computer science in most of the States in our country because he's not certified. Is it time to re-look at that as well? Those are my questions.
Mr. EHLERS. The gentleman has used most of his time to ask his question, but we'll permit a few responses. Dr. Carey first.
Dr. CAREY. The reasons students are being turned off is because they are taught in a way that college students are taught. They read textbooks that are extraordinarily dull and that they can't understand because they don't engage in the kind of activities that lead to understanding. And they're lectured at, and it's excruciatingly awful. And they learn, they internalize that, ''I can't understand science.'' And nobody could understand science from that way of being taught.
So it's no mystery why they're being turned off. Now what to do about it. In Massachusetts, I just moved from Massachusetts to New York. At MIT where I taught for many years, there were, every year, there were about 400 MIT studentsthere are less than 4,000 all togetherout teaching in the schools, just out of interest. And what Massachusetts did was change the certification requirements so that it's easier for people who know the content area to become certified.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But because you know physics doesn't mean that you know how to teach physics. You don't want Mickey Mouse education courses, but you want people to confront the issue of how children learn. So youthe bottleneck is still going to be how to solve that training problem.
Mr. EHLERS. Dr. Krakauer.
Dr. KRAKAUER. I'm going to answer the question about local funding and federal mandates. Two words: Block grants. Give the local government a decision how to use it to best meet their needs. Eisenhower math education funding has been really good.
Mr. EHLERS. Any other comments? Mr. Nye. Dr. Schneider.
Dr. SCHNEIDER. Two phrases: National standards, local implementation.
Mr. EHLERS. Okay. Mr. Nye.
Mr. NYE. Two more phrases, fewer standards that are better.
Mr. EHLERS. Okay. Lots of wisdom in a few words there. Thank you very much.
Next, Ms. Jackson Lee.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I'd ask unanimous consent for my statement to be submitted into the record.
Mr. EHLERS. Without objection, so ordered.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Jackson Lee follows:]
Insert offset folios 77-78
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you very much. First let me thank the panelists for being here, certainly the ''Science Guy'' is probably getting a lot of good coverage, and we thank you for your presence.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. Parker, I do appreciate the generous filling with so many dynamic future scientists that you brought with us today. And I wanted to applaud both their scientific prowess, but also their behavior.
And I appreciate that we have been going on for a while, but I want them to know that I am, for one, a Congresswoman from Texas, very, very proud of them and might I had the opportunity, I might have joined them.
I will add and take note of the fact that certainly it appears that the Flint Hill School is an excellent school with an excellent leader like yourself, is rich in diversity. And I think that in and of itself is a positive note that we should emphasize because I'm going to take some good news out of this report that we've all been talking about and that is that unlike the Bell Curve, it does not suggest that minority students are less abled to learn, as we have heard so many times, than any other. So we have a national problem.
And, you know, when you look at the cup, sometimes it's good to look at it as half-full than half-empty because most times I'm fighting back the biases and discrimination about how minority children cannot learn. We have children who can learn, and we must find a way to help them learn. So this is, I think, a very important wake-up call, and I take it as the cup being half-full and the question is, what will we do about it.
I want to raise several points and I appreciate greatly that whoever would desire to comment on it, please do. I do think the professional development question is a crucial point, and that is helping our teachers be more prepared and giving them an exciting opportunity so that it will raise questions about the practical opportunities. Meaning, summers away for our teachers in government or institutions of higher learning, laboratories, giving them those kinds of opportunities.
Having funding, when we talk about throwing good money after bad, using money in a more focused manner to provide a hands-on experience for our middle school and high school students, because I believe the drop-off begins in middle school. When you go into elementary schools, or any of us ever go into our Districts and say, We'd like to do something,'' we call it an event on education. Where do we wind up? We wind up in the precious small classrooms of 3rd or 4th grade. Bright, energetic, in front of a computer. We stay away fromand I love my middle school students and my high school studentsbut you stay away from that when you want to do an event. Why is that? Why should we? Why should we when those are the ones that are emerging, beginning now to move into maturity and adulthood and choices about their profession. That's where I believe that we're losing.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So I want comments on how we focus on those teachers who are beginning to teach the more complicated subjects. And an example I will cite is the applied physics teacher in my daughter's high school where his class is oversold, if you will, because someone tells me he lays horizontal. I've never seen him, but there's standing room only, versus someone else who has a different approach.
The other is that we must be concerned about the kind of equipment that is in middle school and in high school. Obviously it needs to be more complex. It is easier to have a fish bowl in the elementary school and say you have a science class. What do we need to do to make sure our students have the best equipment in the inner city public schools that many of our children go to, or the rural middle schools that many of our children go to?
And the other thing that I've noticed, and some of us face that even in Congress, that we have a tendency to ridicule. How do we help parents, help our teachers, and help our fellow students, now ridicule the individual who doesn't have the full comprehension of this world called science and math? How do we work on a new tone, a new atmosphere in the math class, in the science class, to ensure that doubtful student, maybe that girl student, maybe that minority student, maybe that economically disadvantaged student, not be ridiculed for what they don't know, but that they're encouraged to know things.
And so I would certainly appreciate your comment and then I would be interested in talking about a math and science fund that focuses particularly on helping to shore up the holes that we have in the teaching of math and science. And I'd appreciate anyone's comments on those.
Mr. EHLERS. Anyone wish to comment?
Mr. NYE. Well, to get kids to avoid ridicule from other students, one effective way is to have them work together on science projects. This is a traditional idea, not really my idea.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Laughter.]
And then the other thing that I would pitch as a way to preserve equipment in schools is to make the school a very safe place. One of the problems in inner city schools, and I'm not an expert on this, is that they're not secure or safe buildings. People are concerned about going there, and so equipment among teachers gets damaged or stolen. If the school were a haven then the equipment would have a better chance of surviving and being useful.
Mr. EHLERS. Anyone else wish to comment?
Dr. SCHNEIDER. Opportunities to do science, that's part of the key here, and opportunities for all to do science is an extension of that. Families in particular, working together, parents and children or extended families and children, will be an opportunity to encourage that kind of openness, questioning posture that you've just been speaking about.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Dr. Parker, do you think all children can learn math and science?
Dr. PARKER. There's no question in my mind that all children can learn, and that math and science are not subjects that need to be treated with reservations. I actually was a person who in junior high school and high school thought I couldn't do math and science, and in college avoided the subjects as much as possible. In elementary school teaching, you don't have to take very much science or math. And it wasn't until I really got into my teaching of it that I realized that this was really great stuff. And the good thing about math and science, or math, anyway, is that 1 and 1 is always going to be 2, so you can get a consistent answer where in some places it's not always, the right answer changes.
But definitely, I think all children can learn. And I think what motivates kids is again, the hands-on, so your math and science fund, if it was focusing on middle school and high school students, and getting hands-on math to them in the form of grants or whatever method would be most practical, that would be awesome.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. EHLERS. Dr. Krakauer.
Dr. KRAKAUER. Yes, let me just repeat what I said earlier. I think there is a great deal of importance of mentorships so that people can see as scientists, people that look like them. And so that people getting involved in the schools or programs outside of the schools, for families, for kids, that build on success rather than test for failure, I think are vitally important.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you.
Mr. EHLERS. Dr. Carey, do you have anything to add?
Dr. CAREY. I think the issue of anxiety about not understanding and being made fun of when you don't, is the, one of the crucial things you have to change about math and science education. And working together in groups, if done right, does that. But you can start in 1st grade with teaching science such that what students see is that different students have different ideas about some phenomena. And so suddenly it's not who's right and who's wrong, but why do they think about it that way when I think about it this way.
And you completely diffuse the idea of who's good at it or who's bad at it because nobody is going to have the right idea about scientific things anywhere through high school. Right, I mean, they're infinitely deep. So you can just, you just have to change the culture where it's an always ongoing process of deepening understanding, and you don't make fun of each other, you're interested at the insights that they can bring. And that, we know how to do that. We know how to create that kind of culture. And we know it works to motivate the students.
Mr. EHLERS. The gentlewoman's time has expired. The bells, that we mean we have a vote in a few minutes. I believe there will be time for Mrs. Morella to finish her questions.
Mrs. MORELLA. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think this is a very important hearing that we have here. I thank those of you who testified for the background that you bring and the expertise, and for being here today, too. I know in my office they were very anxious for me to get up here to say thank you to Mr. Nye, whothey have elementary school children and they enjoy it very much.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But I also come from a jurisdiction, Montgomery County, Maryland, where we have benefited from a grant from the National Science Foundation for teaching teachers how to better teach math and science. And I launched the day and then they had workshops, and I went to some of the workshops and some of them were trying to emulate what Mr. Nye does and what all of you believe in and that is to make it fun so that it can be brought into the classroom.
I also, just last week, was at another event in one of our middle schools, which was a video conference with astronauts to talk about the next space mission and to talk about the International Space Station. And it was a video conference so the kids could also type in their questions on their computer and they could also have a response with the astronauts.
And I know that in the report that you have here, Dr. Krakauer, you talk about space. All of you in some way have talked about space and the excitement and the vision. What I'm getting to, my question, I have introduced a bill called the WISETech bill, Women in Science, Engineering and Technology, because in the Year 2000, two-thirds of our new entrants into the workforce are going to be women and minorities. And I am fearful that we are not preparing these young people to go into science, math, technology, the related areas.
And as I look at the chart I have here, the Digest of Education Statistics 1997, I'm not sure exactly how accurate it is, but even there I see some discrepancies in terms of where females are no longer doing as well as they did early on. I see it on this chart for 17-year-olds, I would have expected more a difference among the 13-year-olds. And I would like to ask you as a panel, the sexual differences in terms of whether it's a culture we've established, that it's nerdy to be involved in math and science, just not the thing to do? Whether it's the way we're teaching it? Mr. Salmon mentioned male teachers; I think female teachers are part of it because they don't look upon the females as being able to perform as well, nor, maybe, do they see a future for females. And I just wondered if you would comment on that particularly?
Mr. EHLERS. Mr. Nye.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. NYE. Well, to talk about my show, we go out of our way to have women as scientists and whether it's called People of Color as scientists, and have girls and boys working together and People of Color, kids of color, doing experiments. Now you would think that doing experiments, home demonstrations for you to watch, you would think that if a kid of color watched someone that looked like he or she, looked like him or her doing an experiment, you'd think that person would respond to it and like it and stuff.
Well, according to the research, just shooting from the hip, I'd say it's about 10 times what I expected. In other words, girls are 10 times more interested than I expected when they see a woman scientist on television. A kid of color, about 5 times as interested in it as I kind of expected, sort of anecdotally.
And what I submit as the reason for that is that the stuff that we show in science is inherently interesting.
It's none of my business, but can we kind of get the buzzers and stuff under control?
Mr. EHLERS. No.
Mrs. MORELLA. That's our culture around here.
Mr. NYE. This is a classic example. The room was built by people for humans and yet we're competing with it. It's kind of weird.
So, in other words, the kids really respond this way more than anyone expected. And so I'd say the role models are just a very straightforward and vital way to address this. When you have a woman astronaut, astronaut of color, a tremendous thing. An oceanographer, it's a great thing.
And so I would remind everybody that as we solve this problem, it's not going to happen in a weekend. It's going to take a long time. And the more we do, every little step we take, the closer we get to the goal. So role models are vital, and the more of them the better.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. SCHNEIDER. I need to underscore that. Bill's got a note here that his objective is to change the world and we had this comment from Dr. Carey about changing the culture, and that's part of the issue here. And we can all be a part of that, with this role model issue. We have similar statistics supporting female and minority role models in our science and mathematics program. In the clip that I showed earlier, having Pat Tuesday as the mathematician detective, all of these are elements that contribute, we know, to helping to foster a better attitude toward math and science on the part of females and minorities, as well.
Mr. EHLERS. Dr. Carey.
Dr. CAREY. There's very good research that says that the differences in response of both minorities and women to math and science are indeed cultural. But it's counterintuitive. Let me just give you two examples of things that work.
It was noticed at Berkeley that black students were not doing as well in math, given the same aptitude as non-minority students, and somebody studied that and discovered that among the particularly black, and, but also Hispanic students, there was not a culture of studying together among good students. And the idea was, because if you're good, you shouldn't have to study together. But among the Asian students, and the white students, people did math problems together. The idea was, math is hard to understand and you should support each other.
So what they did was, they started a club for good students, is wasn't a remedial club, it was a club for good students, for good minority students. And you had to compete to get into it, and they simply modeled the culture of working together on math problems. Completely wiped out the differences.
So there are many, many details that are known about things that can be done. Once you have an analysis about what the problem is, you can solve it. But you need the research about
Mrs. MORELLA. That's exactly what that bill would do that I suggested.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. CAREY. Yes.
Mrs. MORELLA. Look into why and where
Dr. CAREY. That's right. And for girls, that's very counterintuitive. For girls, because of degrees of socialization that occur very, very early, girls respond differently from boys to not understanding. There's different attributions. Girls, if they don't understand, assume it's because they're not good at that thing. Boys, if they don't understand, assume it's because they weren't paying attention.
So, you can model math anxiety by, in a subject that has nothing to do with math, but just having the teacher speak gibberish for the first day. You have the teacher speak gibberish in a geography lesson, and the bright girls in the group decided, I can't do this thing. And then they never recover.
I mean, you know, those are really counterintuitive. When you see the result, you say, ''Oh, yeah, actually that's not so counterintuitive.'' Once you understand that, you can now go to work with it. But the point is, there's a lot to be learned but then there's a lot that's already known that could be implemented, and we need to make progress on both fronts.
Mr. EHLERS. The gentlewoman's time has expired. That last insight was very interesting in terms of our attempts to get more females in Congress. Perhaps if we reduce the amount of gibberish, we'll increase the number of women.
Mr. NYE. It's pretty risky, sir.
Mr. EHLERS. But we have to leave for a vote, and I don't want to detain you, so we'll conclude this. I'll just make a few closing comments.
First of all, thank you all very much for coming. This has been one of the better hearings by far that we've had in this room. I do apologize, not only to Mr. Nye, but to everyone, for all the buzzers and lights. We've been fortunate to get this far without it. You said it was designed for humans, I think there's some inclination that Congresspersons are less than human and so we can be controlled by bells and buzzers.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Laughter.]
But your comments have been very helpful, and I appreciate them. And I appreciate Mrs. Morella bringing up the gender issue because that's one I was going to raise. I believe that's extremely important.
Just two comments that were made that I did disagree with and I just want to get that on the record. A comment was made that elementary school teachers don't necessarily need training in the content of science and I strongly disagree with that. The difficulty is most of them haven't had enough in elementary and high school and that's why we have to do it at the college level. Particularly the line you had, Dr. Schneider, in your clip, mathematics is not arithmetic. I found that most of my college-level students did not realize thatthe teachers, future teachers.
The other comment is, I don't think, if we're going to have choice in schools, that we should limit it to public schools and I couldn't let the session pass without getting that comment on the record, as well.
Finally, I became convinced that most teachers teach as they have been taught, not as they've been taught how to teach. And to try to break that cycle, when I was teaching elementary school teachers, I required them to keep a log book with them in every class and to analyze the teaching of every teacher they had at the college level while they were in my class, and every 2 weeks they had to turn in their comments and then we would discuss them as a class. It was an interesting way to give them some fascinating insights into how they were being taught at the college level. And then I asked them the obvious question: Is this a good model or is it not, and how will that affect your teaching, whether in high school or elementary school?
And I also, incidentally, learned far more than I wanted to know about my colleagues' teaching methodologies, which made me suspect to a few of them.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you, once again, for your participation. It's been very, very worthwhile for all of us. And we hope that we can make an impact on this issue in the United States and through your efforts and ours.
Thank you again.
Mr. NYE. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Mr. EHLERS. The meeting is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 4:43 p.m., the Committee was adjourned, to reconvene at the call of the Chair.]