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Editorial: Don’t let the errors stand unchallenged

By Geoff Hart

Previously published as: Hart, G.J. 2002. Editorial: Don't let the errors stand unchallenged. the Exchange 9(3):2.

Everybody agrees that the current state of science education is pitiful, but nobody does anything about it. At least, that’s been the conventional wisdom until recently. Physicist John Hubisz (Hubisz@unity.ncsu.edu) has been fighting a losing battle to correct the problems for decades, but now hopes to leverage the power of the Internet and its activist communities to make a difference. At the Science House Web site (http://www.science-house.org), sponsored by North Carolina State University in Raleigh, Hubisz is an active participant in providing online learning resources for science teachers. In particular, he’s provided a resource that he hopes will grow rapidly: online reviews of current science texts (http://www.science-house.org:8530/middleschool/reviews/), and lists of their errors, which are sometimes quite egregious (e.g., a map showing the equator running through Florida). [A look back from 2005: The reviews appear to be gone. Alas!—GH]

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is also working to provide our children with a better science education. Their Project 2061 has the goal of reforming “K–12 education nationwide so that all high-school graduates are literate in science, mathematics, and technology”. Have a look at their Web site (project2061@aaas.org, http://www.project2061.org/default_flash.htm) for details on the project and links to miscellaneous useful information.

As scientific communicators, we obviously have a keen interest in explaining science to diverse audiences, including the public. That task is much easier if our audiences have some basic understanding of science, and providing that understanding is the role of science teachers. How can you play a part? At a minimum, point your children’s teachers to these two Web sites and encourage them to consult the available reference material, including Hubisz’s reviews. If you’re feeling more ambitious, contact Dr. Hubisz or AAAS and offer to help out. If, like me, you’re a fan of science fiction, check out Julie Czerneda’s Web site (http://www.czerneda.com) for details on her No Limits project (http://ca.geocities.com/wonderzone@rogers.com/), a classroom resource to help teachers stimulate interest in science using science fiction as a teaching resource. Point your local teachers to this great resource.

It would also be interesting to get STC involved in these efforts, both to increase the Society’s visibility and to increase our SIG’s visibility within the society. Any volunteers?


My essays on scientific communication have now been collected in the following book:

Hart, G. 2011. Exchanges: 10 years of essays on scientific communication. Diaskeuasis Publishing, Pointe-Claire, Que. Printed version, 242 p.; eBook in PDF format, 327 p.


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