One of the best days I ever spent was being very sick watching Mythbusters marathon all day. If you don't know this show, Adam, Jamie and their minions take a myth and use the scientific method (most of the time although n=small) to either confirm, deny or consider it plausible. I have seen shows about movie myths and whether shooting a gas tank makes cars blow up to shark myths to my favorite -blowing up cement trucks.
Adam Savage of the Mythbusters has written an article in the Popular Mechanics about 3 ways to fix science education. If you are too lazy to read it, I will sum it up for you. He says the 3 ways are:
1. Let the students get their hands dirty
2. Fund Science Education
3. Celebrate Mistakes
I agree although I think he is being a little vague.
One thing I do take issue with is the lack of students doing research BEFORE they "get their hands dirty" that he fails to mention. You can't just do fun stuff i.e. labs all of the time. Being able to articulate your results are just as important. Reading about what other experiments have been done before are just as important. They go together like Germany and crazy-paprika flavored chips.
This is not to diminish the experience of labs themselves. How many of you were talked blue in the face about HOW to ride a bicycle but then just got on it and learned yourself? (no matter how many helpful adults were around!) You just can't learn by only reading or being talked at.
Another point that many parents fail to realize is that children need science education from elementary through high school. Science in some districts has been taken down to a person coming in once a month or less to do an experiment with the kids. Sometimes, that is the only exposure to science young children are getting these days.
Before one should pick a school, make sure there is a well developed science program in elementary school. I can guarantee you that these students not learning science in elemtary school are not taking science electives in high school. We are losing our kids early folks...time to stand up and demand that schools make this a priority. And who doesn't love hearing at the dinner table the disgusting things that your child did in science class?
Why is science one of the few subjects that is only required to have only 2 classes in high school? That means to me that the MAJORITY OF ADULTS IN THE US HAVE NOT LEARNED ANY SCIENCE SINCE THEY WERE 16! I don't know about you folks, but I would not want these people becoming my politicians and receptionists at Dr's offices making decisions for me.
Also in my humble opinion (if you have read this far with me), I believe this would solve our math problem. What is science? Why merely applied math...
No go out there and GET MESSY! Throw some Mentos in Diet Coke and see what happens!