Wednesday, October 15, 2008

PoundRant: Forget green energy, let's focus on math and science education

Kids in the United States suck at math and science. The staff at Pound360 sucked at math and science when we were in school. Our excuse was the Cold War. How could you focus on math, science or anything else in school in the middle of a war like that? All of our free time was spent studying Red Dawn for survival tactics so we would be prepared the day Russian paratroopers came falling through the clouds to wipe us out.

Of course, today's kids have the War on Terror to blame. But it's time to stop passing blame and start coming up with solutions.

First, here's how bad it is. According to the latest Program for International Student Assessment study (
reported by the Washington Post), US kids ranked 31st in science performance and fifth-from-last in math. Ridiculous. How are we supposed to compete in the space age? How are we supposed to come up with green energy solutions?

You don't care about space or green energy? Fine. Our math performance is so horrible, it's little surprise Wall Street (and your 401K) is
the catastrophic mess it is today.

What do we do? Step one, forget a Manhattan-style project to come up with an alternative to oil. Let the Chinese, Europeans or somebody else come up with that. We've lost this round, countrymen. Let's focus on the next one. If we're going to be the first country to put a man on Mars, patent a light saber or teleport a dog across the Atlantic, we need people that are math and science geniuses.

The article that set off this rant was a NY Times piece, "
Math Skills Suffer in U.S., Study Finds."

The quote that sticks in our head is from a young math whiz on why other kids are so behind, "there’s just a stigma in this country about math being really hard and feared." Pound360 agrees. Step one of the Manhattan-style math and science advancement project should be working with educators to find creative ways to build confidence in these subjects among our kids.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.