Science, why has it been dumbed down & lost it's appeal in education & training?

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3488

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<p><font size="2" color="#000000"><strong>Did not know where to put this, but not amongst the dross in the Open Forum.</strong></font></p><font size="4" color="#000080"><p><font size="4" color="#000080"><font size="4" color="#000080">BBC message board on Have you Say discussed this very subject.</font></font></p><p><font size="2" color="#000000"><strong>Any thoughts anyone? </strong></font></p><p><font size="2" color="#000000"><strong>Becoming a big problem here in the United Kingdom.</strong></font></p><p><font size="2" color="#000000"><strong>Andrew Brown.</strong></font></p></font> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080">"I suddenly noticed an anomaly to the left of Io, just off the rim of that world. It was extremely large with respect to the overall size of Io and crescent shaped. It seemed unbelievable that something that big had not been visible before".</font> <em><strong><font color="#000000">Linda Morabito </font></strong><font color="#800000">on discovering that the Jupiter moon Io was volcanically active. Friday 9th March 1979.</font></em></p><p><font size="1" color="#000080">http://www.launchphotography.com/</font><br /><br /><font size="1" color="#000080">http://anthmartian.googlepages.com/thisislandearth</font></p><p><font size="1" color="#000080">http://web.me.com/meridianijournal</font></p> </div>
 
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Carrickagh

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Did not know where to put this, but not amongst the dross in the Open Forum.BBC message board on Have you Say discussed this very subject.Any thoughts anyone? Becoming a big problem here in the United Kingdom.Andrew Brown. <br />Posted by 3488</DIV><br /><br />This is a good place to put this topic. </p><p>I'm not sure where to begin. I have after many years in research (in the industry and now as an educator) come to the conclusion that managers who call for nice shiny new engineering grads ultimately don't know what to do with them. The degree, whether it be engineering or science, has been de-valued due to corporate shenanigans and the salivation for the bottom line. In industry there is no mentoring or support for professional development.</p><p>In education too much is given to theory. I do not teach&nbsp;theory based courses (although that background is needed) but hands on labs and shops. Most of the kids I encounter want to tinker and get their hands dirty. They don't always get that in the theory classes. Also, they are disappointed on co-ops and internships when they find themselves to be paper pushers or parts counters. As graduates the team feeling they gain on campus seems non-existant. Combine that with the fact that these degrees take brains, hardwork, and tenacity and it is little wonder that student shy away from technical education.</p><p>All in all most educators I know are quite dedicated to their students. The students lose that mentoring and sense of dedication from those above them when they go out in the real world. And no, their paychecks are not what these business leaders advertize. Often the student loan debt they get into is never balanced by the "promised" technical salary.</p><p>Just my 2 cents. </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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Mee_n_Mac

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Did not know where to put this, but not amongst the dross in the Open Forum.BBC message board on Have you Say discussed this very subject.Any thoughts anyone? Becoming a big problem here in the United Kingdom.Andrew Brown. <br />Posted by <strong>3488</strong></DIV><br /></p><p>Can you explain what's meant by double and triple science GCSE&nbsp;?</p><p>As for lack of interest in sciences and engineering ... that's no surprise.&nbsp; They're perceived (properly) to be areas where hard (scholastic)&nbsp;work is needed and where the pay is not in proportion to said work.&nbsp; It seems easier to get some "business" degree and go where the real $$s are.&nbsp; The children of today (and yesterday too) live in a world where their needs are pretty much met w/o them having to expend much effort.&nbsp; That's what they expect of the larger working world.&nbsp; They are "victims" of their parents success.&nbsp; </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>-----------------------------------------------------</p><p><font color="#ff0000">Ask not what your Forum Software can do do on you,</font></p><p><font color="#ff0000">Ask it to, please for the love of all that's Holy, <strong>STOP</strong> !</font></p> </div>
 
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SpeedFreek

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Can you explain what's meant by double and triple science GCSE&nbsp;?As for lack of interest in sciences and engineering ... that's no surprise.&nbsp; They're perceived (properly) to be areas where hard (scholastic)&nbsp;work is needed and where the pay is not in proportion to said work.&nbsp; It seems easier to get some "business" degree and go where the real $$s are.&nbsp; The children of today (and yesterday too) live in a world where their needs are pretty much met w/o them having to expend much effort.&nbsp; That's what they expect of the larger working world.&nbsp; They are "victims" of their parents success.&nbsp; <br /> Posted by mee_n_mac</DIV></p><p>GCSE's are the final exam that 16 year olds take (General Certificate of Secondary Education).</p><p>When I was at school there used to be individual exams for physics, chemistry and biology, but now they want to combine the sciences, so a double GCSE would cover two sciences, and a triple would cover all three. So you come out knowing much less about the individual sciences themselves.</p><p>The GCSE's themselves, even when on the individual sciences, have been dumbed down over the years too. I took exams called GCE's or "O" levels, which were the harder option, and the less capable kids took CSE's, which were the easier option. An "O level" grade of C was equal to a top CSE grade. Then they combined the two into the current GCSE system, and now they want to combine the sciences into 1 GCSE...</p><p><img src="http://sitelife.space.com/ver1.0/content/scripts/tinymce/plugins/emotions/images/smiley-frown.gif" border="0" alt="Frown" title="Frown" /> </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#ff0000">_______________________________________________<br /></font><font size="2"><em>SpeedFreek</em></font> </p> </div>
 
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DrRocket

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>This is a good place to put this topic. I'm not sure where to begin. I have after many years in research (in the industry and now as an educator) come to the conclusion that managers who call for nice shiny new engineering grads ultimately don't know what to do with them. The degree, whether it be engineering or science, has been de-valued due to corporate shenanigans and the salivation for the bottom line. In industry there is no mentoring or support for professional development.In education too much is given to theory. I do not teach&nbsp;theory based courses (although that background is needed) but hands on labs and shops. Most of the kids I encounter want to tinker and get their hands dirty. They don't always get that in the theory classes. Also, they are disappointed on co-ops and internships when they find themselves to be paper pushers or parts counters. As graduates the team feeling they gain on campus seems non-existant. Combine that with the fact that these degrees take brains, hardwork, and tenacity and it is little wonder that student shy away from technical education.All in all most educators I know are quite dedicated to their students. The students lose that mentoring and sense of dedication from those above them when they go out in the real world. And no, their paychecks are not what these business leaders advertize. Often the student loan debt they get into is never balanced by the "promised" technical salary.Just my 2 cents. <br />Posted by Carrickagh</DIV></p><p>I have a couple of problems between industry and education.&nbsp; </p><p>Probably the number 1 problem is that technical degrees are not adequately valued in industry, even in highly technical industries.&nbsp; While there is often a technical ladder and a management ladder, the technical ladder does not go nearly as high and people do not climb that ladder nearly as fast.&nbsp; In addition, there is a lack of control of one's destiny on the technical ladder.&nbsp; On the other hand the higher rungs of the technical ladder are normally more secure than the higher rungs on the management ladder.</p><p>The second problem is with the product produced by the educational system.&nbsp; There is, believe it or not, too little emphasis on sound theory in the universities and too much on short-term training.&nbsp; Many new engineering graduates are very good at operating sophisticated computer modeling programs.&nbsp; But they are not so good at understanding the limitations or understanding what the model is really telling them.&nbsp; Training in specific techniques and computer codes has a short shelf life, but a thorough ground in the fundamentals lasts forever.&nbsp; What tends to happen is that those people with good understanding of the fundamentals and a broad overall perspective that reaches across disciplines wind up in management.</p><p>One reason that technical an scientific training has perhaps lost some appeal is because it is far easier to make a lot of money elsewhere. Unforunately this also extends to some university faculty members, particularly in engineering, who spend more time in entrepreneurial pursuits and hustling money&nbsp;than they do in teaching and research.&nbsp; Consequently the level of education suffers.&nbsp; There are some really fine researchers in academia.&nbsp; Unfortunately there are also some worthless charlatans and their number has increased.</p><p>Large companies are also to blame.&nbsp; The allure of working for a large corporation has in many cases evaporated as the corporations increasingly treat all employees as temporary labor.&nbsp; In many cases it is only in large corporations that new technical people can get the experience that they need to progress in either a small or a large company.&nbsp; Small companies simply don't have the time or resources to train and mentor newbies who may take a little time before they can contribute directly to the bottom line.</p><p>And finally one problem may be that scientific and engineering education is hard.&nbsp; It is supposed to be.&nbsp; But marginal students are likely to gravitate to other disciplines where they can make more money, or think that they can,&nbsp;with less work.&nbsp; Talented engineers can do pretty well. But mediocre engineers and scientists don't do that well.&nbsp; And a person who would be a mediocre engineer or scientist&nbsp;could be exceptional in other fields. </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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UFmbutler

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Large companies are also to blame.&nbsp; The allure of working for a large corporation has in many cases evaporated as the corporations increasingly treat all employees as temporary labor.&nbsp; In many cases it is only in large corporations that new technical people can get the experience that they need to progress in either a small or a large company.&nbsp; Small companies simply don't have the time or resources to train and mentor newbies who may take a little time before they can contribute directly to the bottom line.<br /> Posted by DrRocket</DIV></p><p>This is sort of the point I was going to make.&nbsp; Having worked at a NASA/DOE lab for the past two summers I've come to learn that, while the pay is very high(they pay me three times as much as I was paid to be a research assistant at my university with only a bachelor's degree and no prior experience), the turnover rate is very high.&nbsp; Out of the people I worked with last year, only about 4 of them have lasted until this year.&nbsp; This is because the majority of people working here are foreign nationals, and by lab policy usually only work here for a few years, unless they apply for citizenship.&nbsp; Without the ability to get security clearance, your job at a government lab will be pretty temporary.&nbsp; The problem isn't so much the salary...if you can get a staff position(not very difficult if you're American), you will be making a very nice salary, sometimes twice what you would make as say an assistant professor.&nbsp; The problem is that either America isn't producing enough talented scientists to work in the labs, or the fact that many people who pursue Ph.D.s tend to stay in academia.&nbsp; I believe this is at least partially due to the fact, which I am beginning to experience personally, that many professors view government research in a very negative light, and remind you of this very often. &nbsp;</p><p>So basically people are presented with two options:&nbsp; good salary with the biggest names in science, or job security.&nbsp; The former can be just as secure as a tenureship, as long as your interests are aligned with the lab's main vision.&nbsp; For example, my work right now is with the nuclear non-proliferation division, which is likely to never stop being funded.&nbsp; I think when people hear of the stories of people coming to a government lab and losing their job because funding fell out or their instrument died, they become discouraged and go with the safer option.&nbsp; This leads people to either join education or switch fields entirely, often switching to the engineering side of things. &nbsp;</p><p>Also, going overseas for research is becoming more of a viable option for some.&nbsp; One person who left the lab last year went to work for France's equivalent of NASA due to higher job security and longer vacations.&nbsp; Many others go to England or Australia for work.&nbsp; So essentially my opinion on the issue is that the reason science is no longer as appealing is because government agencies are pushing talented Americans away with their bureaucracy in favor of foreign nationals.&nbsp; The idea that, in the end, after you get your PhD you will only end up as another professor has been spreading more and more, especially with budget cuts to the science budget in favor of manned space missions.&nbsp; And when it comes down to it, the prospect of being a professor is much less appealing to most students than working for NASA. </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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DrRocket

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>This is sort of the point I was going to make.&nbsp; Having worked at a NASA/DOE lab for the past two summers I've come to learn that, while the pay is very high(they pay me three times as much as I was paid to be a research assistant at my university with only a bachelor's degree and no prior experience), the turnover rate is very high.&nbsp; Out of the people I worked with last year, only about 4 of them have lasted until this year.&nbsp; This is because the majority of people working here are foreign nationals, and by lab policy usually only work here for a few years, unless they apply for citizenship.&nbsp; Without the ability to get security clearance, your job at a government lab will be pretty temporary.&nbsp; The problem isn't so much the salary...if you can get a staff position(not very difficult if you're American), you will be making a very nice salary, sometimes twice what you would make as say an assistant professor.&nbsp; The problem is that either America isn't producing enough talented scientists to work in the labs, or the fact that many people who pursue Ph.D.s tend to stay in academia.&nbsp; I believe this is at least partially due to the fact, which I am beginning to experience personally, that many professors view government research in a very negative light, and remind you of this very often. &nbsp;So basically people are presented with two options:&nbsp; good salary with the biggest names in science, or job security.&nbsp; The former can be just as secure as a tenureship, as long as your interests are aligned with the lab's main vision.&nbsp; For example, my work right now is with the nuclear non-proliferation division, which is likely to never stop being funded.&nbsp; I think when people hear of the stories of people coming to a government lab and losing their job because funding fell out or their instrument died, they become discouraged and go with the safer option.&nbsp; This leads people to either join education or switch fields entirely, often switching to the engineering side of things. &nbsp;Also, going overseas for research is becoming more of a viable option for some.&nbsp; One person who left the lab last year went to work for France's equivalent of NASA due to higher job security and longer vacations.&nbsp; Many others go to England or Australia for work.&nbsp; So essentially my opinion on the issue is that the reason science is no longer as appealing is because government agencies are pushing talented Americans away with their bureaucracy in favor of foreign nationals.&nbsp; The idea that, in the end, after you get your PhD you will only end up as another professor has been spreading more and more, especially with budget cuts to the science budget in favor of manned space missions.&nbsp; And when it comes down to it, the prospect of being a professor is much less appealing to most students than working for NASA. <br />Posted by UFmbutler</DIV></p><p>If you are looking at only the research and academically oriented jobs, you will soon come to a somewhat discouraging conclusion.&nbsp; First, there are not very many pure research jobs out there.&nbsp; There are far fewer academic jobs than there are new PhDs to fill them. That means that most new PhDs spend a long time in post doc positions and those post doc positions pay very poorly.&nbsp; There are also limited government jobs in pure research and those jobs do not have nearly the freedom to pursue your personal research interests that come with academic jobs.&nbsp; They do pay a bit better, but perhaps not as well as you think.&nbsp; they attract people because of interest in the work, and not because of the pay.</p><p>I can assure you that your perspective on what constitutes high pay will change as you get older and gain experience.&nbsp; When I was a graduate student, I was receiving less than $400/month (a new brand new BS in industry at that time would have made $1000/mo to start and gone up fairly quickly from there) but I often had uncashed checks.&nbsp; That didn't happen once I started to have a real job.&nbsp; Secondly, assistant professor pay is still not particularly high, but you do have a lot of freedom and the excitement of research tends to make up for the low pay -- for a while at least.</p><p>Industry jobs for PhDs actually don't pay any better than jobs for BS people, except for the starting salaries.&nbsp; But they do tend to pay better than does academia. &nbsp;However, the difference in starting pay is less than what would be expected from the time spent in getting the advanced degree.&nbsp; So don't get a PhD for the money, get it because of extreme interest in your subject.</p><p>I think the bigger issue is that people are simply not interested in technical fields and those that are do not pursue advanced degrees like they used to.&nbsp; The graduate schools are largely filled with foreign students, and that is happening with faculty positions as well.&nbsp; And I am afraid that the reason is that the available jobs are simply not sufficiently attractive.&nbsp; Your personal perspective needs to be taken in the light that you are extraordinarily interested in your speciality -- if you weren't you would not be pursuing a PhD.&nbsp; That extreme perspective (extreme here is really a good thing) does not apply to the vast majority of engineers, and engineering is the subject studied by the vast majority of majors in technical fields.&nbsp;&nbsp;Engineering is where the real problems lie from the perspective of global competitiveness and economics.&nbsp; Pure science is as much a calling as a profession, and I think the most talented and interested people in the fields of pure research will continue to self-select themselves and go into those fields.&nbsp; But the need for skilled technical people outside of research is an area in which there does seem to be an issue.<br /></p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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UFmbutler

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'> There are far fewer academic jobs than there are new PhDs to fill them. That means that most new PhDs spend a long time in post doc positions and those post doc positions pay very poorly.&nbsp; There are also limited government jobs in pure research and those jobs do not have nearly the freedom to pursue your personal research interests that come with academic jobs.&nbsp; They do pay a bit better, but perhaps not as well as you think.&nbsp; <br /> Posted by DrRocket</DIV></p><p>I'm not sure how it is at other NASA centers, but since the government uses paygrades I'd imagine it is similar everywhere.&nbsp; Here at Los Alamos, I know foreign postdocs(they get paid less than american postdocs due to lack of clearance) make somewhere on the order of 90000 a year, which is very high...for a postdoc.&nbsp; And regarding freedom, there are tons of funding issues, but thats a problem in academia as well.&nbsp; My point was that while government work is fairly limited, I find that if you can find a permanent position at a government lab working on a field you are passionate about, it is a very good alternative to the traditional PhD--->Professor route.&nbsp; Some people may disagree, but as of now that is the track I am planning to pursue.&nbsp; That said, it is very difficult to find a good job at a place like this, but if you have the connections and experience, it is possible. </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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killium

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<p>score the goal that bring your team in finale and you'll have your name written everywhere, that is concrete results. Score a 100% on the most difficult exam of the school and what do you get ? More bullying, that is IF you get something at all... so the choice is easy. Open the newspaper, when do they talk about science ? We have to understand that science is geeky, and geeky poeples are rare. We all got together at the university so we think that the whole world is that, but hey, we're not even 1% of the population. yes, 99% of the population wouldn't know a thing about E=MC2, and they wonders why we're making such a case for a formula....</p><p>and the pay ....... <img src="http://sitelife.space.com/ver1.0/content/scripts/tinymce/plugins/emotions/images/smiley-money-mouth.gif" border="0" alt="Money mouth" title="Money mouth" />&nbsp;I&nbsp;trippled my salary when i switched from teaching to a job "in the field". Of course i would prefer to get a PhD in astrophysic and "play" in a lab for the rest of my life, but 90k per year for a job i didn't even have to go to school for is much more appealing....</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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kg

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<p>I have a friend who will be teaching (applied) physics this fall at a vocational/technical high school.&nbsp; She has taught science and biology but never physics before.&nbsp; I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts about what concepts might be essential or unnecessary in such a setting.&nbsp; The school&nbsp;is trying to expose the students to physics and engineering.</p><p>&nbsp; Also, in the physics for future presidents Professor Muller demonstrates waves using a device&nbsp;I've&nbsp;never seen before.&nbsp; It looks like strait wires strung together like a fish bone.&nbsp;&nbsp;Does anyone know what this thing is called&nbsp;and how I can make one?&nbsp; It's 15 minutes into Physics 10-Lecture 11:- Waves I.&nbsp; It should be this here...</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuhccACOd1U</p>
 
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UFmbutler

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>score the goal that bring your team in finale and you'll have your name written everywhere, that is concrete results. Score a 100% on the most difficult exam of the school and what do you get ? More bullying, that is IF you get something at all... so the choice is easy. Open the newspaper, when do they talk about science ? We have to understand that science is geeky, and geeky poeples are rare. We all got together at the university so we think that the whole world is that, but hey, we're not even 1% of the population. yes, 99% of the population wouldn't know a thing about E=MC2, and they wonders why we're making such a case for a formula....and the pay ....... &nbsp;I&nbsp;trippled my salary when i switched from teaching to a job "in the field". Of course i would prefer to get a PhD in astrophysic and "play" in a lab for the rest of my life, but 90k per year for a job i didn't even have to go to school for is much more appealing.... <br /> Posted by killium</DIV></p><p>I think this is kind of a misconception.&nbsp; You don't have to be "geeky" to work in science, especially astrophysics.&nbsp; I know plenty(and I fall in this category as well) of astrophysicists who are in fact normal people who actually find the overly geeky types to be a little annoying.&nbsp; If you actually get into the field you will find that even people with PhDs can go out and drink and not even mention science for extended periods of time.&nbsp; </p><p>Regarding pay, you can/should easily be able to make at LEAST 90k a year with an astrophysics PhD.&nbsp; You will also be, presumably, doing something you enjoy.&nbsp; Would I take even a 40-50k pay increase to work in some engineering/IT job over a astrophysics research position?&nbsp; No, probably not.&nbsp; As idealistic as it sounds, money isn't everything.&nbsp; That said, it is quite easy to make a lot of money in research.&nbsp; Consider that something like 2/3 of the population of Los Alamos are millionaires, and combine that fact with the fact that an extremely high percentage of the Los Alamos population is employed by the lab(something like 80%), and it is hard to argue that there is no many to be had in science.&nbsp;</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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