Thursday, March 9, 2017

Why Science Education Is Essential

I stumbled onto this great image online earlier today...

Thanks, someecards...

As a former middle school science teacher, I heartily agree. In a society that relies more and more on science and technology, I find it fascinating (and disheartening) to see such an anti-science, and even anti-knowledge sentiment so prevalent in our culture. It's perfectly acceptable to be seen as ignorant, and in some cases it's even lauded.

Don't believe me?

When I was a middle school science teacher, I always began my 8th grade chemistry unit by sharing with my students about the dangers of hydroxyl acid, which is also known as dihydrogen monoxide, or hydronium hydroxide. I'm sure you've heard of this dangerous substance, which kills thousands of people every year. Many people die by accidentally inhaling it, but prolonged contact with its solid form can also cause severe tissue damage. It is a commonly used industrial solvent, and it important in the production of many commercial products today, including styrofoam and nylon. You probably would not be surprised to hear that it is commonly found in excised tumors from terminal cancer patients, but doctors have found significant amounts of this dangerous substance in newborn babies in all parts of the world. Contamination is global, and its presence has profound impacts in all ecosystems.

You might suspect that my students were appalled to hear this. Rightly so! Hydroxyl acid is obviously a dangerous chemical, and it ought to be banned, right?

There is actually a group dedicated to this important work. You can check out their website for yourself. This is just one example of why I think science education is essential! Understanding science, can help keep you safe, after all.

Here's another example that a friend shared with me a year or so ago, knowing that I have a passion for science education. I encourage you to read this--and please read it all the way to the end...

Science. It reduces the stupid.
The punchline here is the key. You've got the point, I hope. We need better scientific literacy in a society that relies on science and technology!

Oh, and by the way...if you missed it earlier, hydroxyl acid is a very common substance that I'm sure you know by it's chemical formula...


1 comment:

  1. How about changing the poster comment to, 'magic is everywhere even when you do understand Science'. Watching hydronium hydroxide crystallize is magical. Watching it precipitate when the lights are just so is also magical. Watching the refraction of light through precipitating hydronium hydroxide can be quite magical as well. Watching the refraction of light through the pre-nocturnal rotation of the world can also be quite intoxicating, especially with the right person there. One does not necessarily preclude the other.