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US schools: why is science so overfunded?

  1. Nov 17, 2005 #1

    Pengwuino

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    Obviously this is utter sarcasm in the title but if you did not know better and gauged our funding based on what people say... you would think its true. Every time someone starts flappipng their gums off (almost always a fat woman teacher or a mother... and no that is not me being mean, it just ALWAYS seems like that is the case around here), they always cry about music and art not being funded. A few weeks ago in the commercial blitz for the propositions in California, there was a commercial that basically went "We don't need teacher reform and higher standards, we need more money for ART and MUSIC". Now, I started to think about it and I tried to recall as many instances of peopel talking about getting more money and I could not think about anything but "art and music" "art and music" "art and music", ART AND MUSIC :devil: :devil: :devil: :devil: :devil: :devil:

    Now I thought... ok maybe it is underfunded... who knows.... then came my presentation yesterday on String Theory for a "non-science science class" (shut up, its GE credits). Now, of course its a difficult subject but this wasn't the problem. The class seemed to have absolutely no clue as to how something could be mathematically derived. My professor even had to jump in and try to explain the fact that you can attempt to prove something experimentally and theoretically. Now the class seemed utterly blown away at such a propostorous idea! I have also confirmed through some of my other professors that their students in the introductory physics courses are absolutely dumbfounded at the very idea of science and mathematics.

    I also think back to high school days and even before that... I can't really believe it. About 1/2 of all the people I know were at some point, in a band/played an instrument/in some sort of special art class/in a play/dance thing... all of which were school funded. Now I'm obviously not including the mandatory ones because hell, even I was in some play back in 4th grade... but it was because the class had to be. I also can remember the size of our bands back in high school and... sheesh! And our school was suppose to be the "science-oriented" high school. To add to all this, the biology and physics classes never seemed to have enough books...

    And of course, as I said earlier, EVERYONE complains about art and music funding as if science funding is just truckloads of gold and silver bars. Now... is this happening anywhere else or am I living in the twilight zone?
     
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  3. Nov 17, 2005 #2

    Danger

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    I live in the Twilight Zone, remember? Such insanity doesn't occur here.
     
  4. Nov 17, 2005 #3

    Astronuc

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    I think back when school boards started cutting costs, what where viewed as 'discretionary' or 'non-core' educational programs were cut, at least in the places where I have lived. Math and science are considered core subjects, so it appears that many or the majority of folk believe they are adquately funded.

    I hear periodically about the shortage of math and science teachers, and even the lack of 'qualified' math and science teachers.

    It appears to me that education is underfunded in general. On the other hand, the US seems to have the highest per student funding, but the students are among the lower quartile in performance in math (and perhaps science) among 26 industrialized or developed countries according to recent surveys by OECD (e.g. 2003 survey of OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)).

    Education at a Glance 2005
    http://www.oecd.org/document/34/0,2340,en_2649_37455_35289570_1_1_1_37455,00.html
    Exective summary - http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/20/25/35345692.pdf
     
  5. Nov 17, 2005 #4
    Trust me, it's not just funding that's screwing science classes over. I'm in a "rich" school, and we still have this:



    Okay, I am going to support my opinion that schools are bad, and could greatly be improved, using an ACTUAL SCHOOL ASSIGNMENT from my 10th Grade Biology(required class) Course from an Excelling(top 9.1% graded schools in the state) school.

    This document has not, in any way(Except for spacing), been edited. This is actually what it says. The (#) means number of points for the section, the __/# means number of points for that specific part of the section. This is a Lab FINAL, where we are to make a lab and physically testing it using provided materials. It is worth 16% of a student's final grade.

    Lab Assessment Ruberic

    TITLE (1)
    Reflects the variables __/1

    QUESTION (15)
    Must be testable __/10
    Clearly state and reflects variables __/4
    Conventions(mechanics/ grammar) __/1

    HYPOTHESIS (10)
    Single sentence, statement form __/1
    Worded similarly to question __/3
    Must be testable and measurable __/5
    Conventions(mechanics/ grammar) __/1

    MATERIALS (3)
    All equipment/materials listed __/1
    Amounts and sizes given __/1
    Conventions(not numbered, mechanics/grammar) __/1

    PROCEDURES (12)
    Sequential order __/1
    Logical - will test hypo __/5
    Able to be duplicated __/5
    Conventions (numbers, mechanics/grammar) __/1

    PREDICTION (5)
    If (state EXACT hypothesis) __/1
    Then (state correct observations) __/3
    Conventions (mechanics/grammar) __/1

    DATA (6)
    All possible qualitative/quantitative oberv (with units) and calculations give in applicable __/1
    Title includes ind/dep variables __/1
    Data organized into correct columns __/1
    Columns labels are specific __/1
    Units, if applicable __/1
    Conventions (appropriate gridlines, mechanics) __/1

    GRAPH (7)
    Title includes ind/dep variables __/1
    Increments start at zero __/1
    Increments equally spaced, entire range of data represented __/1
    Variables on correct acex __/1
    Axes specifically labeled __/1
    Units, if applicable __/1
    Conventions (line appropriate for data, mechanics) __/1

    DISCUSSION/EVALUATION (34)
    Relationship/trend accurately discussed __/10
    Correlation (pos, neg, none) stated __/5
    Logical explination based on scientific concepts for correlation/ relationship given __/15
    Possible source(s) of error given __/1
    Effects of error(s) given __/2
    Conventions (mechanics/ grammar) __/1

    CONCLUSION (7)
    Exact hypothesis stated __/1
    State if hypo is supported/not __/1
    Specific data given(include units) __/3
    Supported/ alternate hypo given __/1
    Conventions (mechanics/ grammar) __/1

    (End of copied document)

    I'm not going to even bash the actual requirements, but I'll start with the weighing of the requirements stated. As you see, there is a total of 101 points. Now let's look at what doesn't make sense.


    QUESTION (15)
    Must be testable __/10
    Clearly state and reflects variables __/4

    Conventions(mechanics/ grammar) __/1

    HYPOTHESIS (10)
    Single sentence, statement form __/1
    Worded similarly to question __/3
    Must be testable and measurable __/5

    Conventions(mechanics/ grammar) __/1

    (skip materials)

    PROCEDURES (12)
    Sequential order __/1
    Logical - will test hypo __/5
    Able to be duplicated __/5

    Conventions (numbers, mechanics/grammar) __/1


    Will you look at what was bolded? Making sure your question is testable an repeatable is almost a FOURTH of the grade. Making sure your question/hypothesis/procedures are testable, repeatable, tests your hypothesis, states what you're testing, and is measurable is 32 points, ALMOST AS MUCH AS THE DISCUSSION! This is common sense, where, for the average person, it is harder NOT to do it then to do it. (Testable? You can test almost anything available in high school.)

    Your question alone is worth as much as your data/data table, graph, and materials COMBINED.

    The weighing is specifically made to make students look like they are doing better then they actually are, which in turns artifically raises science grades, which makes it look like the student is more competent in science then they actually are.

    Remember, top 9.1% of Arizona schools.

    Grades are being artificially inflated. Why? Because higher student grades = more money for school.

    That's flawed, and you should know it.

    Anyway, arguements/comments would be appreciated.


    Maybe, though, if they got more funding/non-grade-based-funding, they'd stop artificially inflating grades.

    (Ps: 1 last note: Another person who is blalantly sarcastic, and hates political correctiveness! High-five! =D)
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2005
  6. Nov 17, 2005 #5
    Eh? I should think the reasoning behind a high school lab is at least as, or more important, than doing the experiment itself. Most college freshmen I know have trouble with basic lab reasoning; they don't understand the logic behind the experiments, and get very confused when asked to discuss the 'variables' they've worked with. As for whether you know how to use the bunsen burner... even chimpanzees can do that (with supervision).

    /off topic

    On the actual topic, <insert generic opinion here>.
     
  7. Nov 17, 2005 #6

    Moonbear

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    But those things you bolded are the most important skills a scientist needs. Those are the things that make it science. It actually looks like a reasonable expectation and point value to me. And, questions written by high school students, and even college students, rarely are written sufficiently well as to be testable. It's not common sense and it's not easy to do well. Further, there is absolutely no point in doing an experiment if it isn't testing the right question, or the hypothesis is poorly stated.
     
  8. Nov 17, 2005 #7
    I think the US in general has a sort of "its too hard, I'm too stupid" approach to math and science, especially compared to things like english.
     
  9. Nov 17, 2005 #8

    dduardo

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    I have a few problems with the U.S. public high school system.

    1) Year long semesters/Too many classes per day: Material is dragged all year long when it could be condensed into half a year. Also, why is it necessary to have 6-7 classes per day?

    2) BS assignments/Too many tests: So much time is wasted doing trivial or just plan excessive homework assignments. Teachers also waste time by giving quizes/test every week.

    3) Emphasis on memorizing over understanding: Part of this problem can be attributed to the teachers themselves and the other part is the focus on standardized testing. High school tearchers aren't the brightest tools in the shed and they are the type of people that would have dosed off in college when the professor was going over the reasoning behind concepts. Standardized testing has also force students to learn the techniques to just pass the test but not much more.
     
  10. Nov 17, 2005 #9

    ShawnD

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    It's because people think "cultured" and "intelligent" are the same thing. Some people force their kids to listen to classical music because they think it will make the kid smarter. More cultured, yes; smarter, no.
     
  11. Nov 17, 2005 #10

    Danger

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    Now I know why my mother bought me all of those Frank Zappa albums when I was a kid. :rolleyes:
     
  12. Nov 17, 2005 #11

    Pengwuino

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    And why my mother wantd me to play the piano and play an instrument as a kid. Screw that buddy.
     
  13. Nov 17, 2005 #12

    Danger

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    The only thing that sort of intrigues me about that is a relationship that Asimov delved into between music and math. I'm lousy at both, so there might actually be some correlation there. (It dealt with patterns, harmonics, and such.)
     
  14. Nov 17, 2005 #13
    Thanks for speaking up about this, Moonbear. I am baffled as to how blahness came to the conclusion his school was giving easy points to people for understanding this. It is not easy and it is not something anyone does automatically. And, as you said, "...those things you bolded are the most important skills a scientist needs. Those are the things that make it science. "
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2005
  15. Nov 17, 2005 #14

    Pengwuino

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    I agree, what point is having a good graph and nice numbers if your experiment doesn't even correctly test for whatever you are testing.

    And did anyone even notice my question :P

    Does this happen anywhere else??? With the complaining about nothing.
     
  16. Nov 17, 2005 #15

    Actually, I was just reading about how playing an instrument as a child increases reasoning skill.

    Also, I belive the point about classical music is oversimplified. I belive that attemting to undersstand and break down music wil make you smarter. Much like attemting to break down a math problem will make you smarter.
     
  17. Nov 17, 2005 #16
    Hmm, it could be because the teacher said "Don't worry if your lab is correct, just make sure that you know how to compile it" that it made me confused.

    Anyway, 15 points for making a "Testable" question and hypothesis? You can't say that isn't easy. I'd have more trouble thinking of a NON-testable question. Measurable, there could be an aspect that could be slightly confused. Procedures testing hypothesis... well, that's why the procedures are there, aren't they? Giving the same amount of points for materials and "wording hypothesis similar to question" still doesn't make sense to me, so elaborate. "Able to be duplicated" is another easy one, since (almost?) any "testable" lab can be duplicated.


    Maybe I'm just confused, but it seems to me that 2 sentences plus a short list (Question plus hypothesis, and procedures) should NOT be worth more then a graph, a short list of materials, all data collected, and the conclusion drawn put together.
    .
    I guess that stating the variables clearly is important, so that can be left as it is. But still...

    The bolded parts are so incredibly easy compared to, say, the discussion. That's why it seems lopsided to me. x.x


    Wait: You're saying that we should grade on importance, while I'm saying it should be done on difficulty. I THINK.


    For the past few hours, i've been kind of tired(damn meds...), so if I'm just rambling, correct me and i'll look at it tomorrow. 'night.
     
  18. Nov 17, 2005 #17

    ShawnD

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    Trying to break down music is the easiest way to cause frustration. Most music is built from the ground up rather than taking apart bits and pieces of existing music and taping it all together to make some half-ass ripoff that doesn't express any emotion.
    When you stop using your emotions, you lose track of what music is all about.

    It also doesn't help when you're not actively choosing to play an instrument. Your instrument won't teach you anything unless you want to learn.
     
  19. Nov 17, 2005 #18

    Pengwuino

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    One of my professors made it quite simple for me to understand... for grad students, they will take a week on a single problem but the reason for that is because half of that time, you are trying to figure out what question is being asked and what exactly is going on in the problem.
     
  20. Nov 17, 2005 #19
    I had a great physics teacher at the end of highschool. It was him that really me interested in physics, one of those very rare teachers that is genuinely passionate about teaching. In his Year 11 classes (our 2nd last year) he focused on getting students to really understand and get a gut feeling for the concepts. In Year 12, in our very first class for the year, he told us straight out that he was not going to do that. His job was to get us the best marks so we could get into Uni or whatever, so rather than really learning physics, we just learnt how to answer the oh so predictable questions on the end of year exam.
     
  21. Nov 17, 2005 #20
    Sounds to me like the particular lesson at hand was in compiling the lab properly. S/he was focusing on the ability to get that step done right, by itself. It is a common teaching method to break things down into separate, more easily digested steps, and to teach each step, one at a time.
     
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