Are we losing scientists?
There was an opinion piece on Bloomberg.com last week concerning the low numbers of college students majoring in sciences when compared to other fields.
You can view the whole post here; I can summarize by saying the author’s premise is that students go into college wanting to major in a science, but change majors once they run into academic roadblocks…classes they are just not prepared for. The author’s conclusion is that there is a failing at the high school level in getting students prepared for those classes.
It’s been awhile since I’ve been to a high school regularly, so I can’t speak for what is or isn’t being taught. And what’s being taught probably varies to some degree across the country.
But I can mention a couple of things I have seen.
This past school year I attended a career fair aimed at freshman-level high school students. The science-related booths were not nearly as popular as the others.
In the past several years, I have regularly judged some science fairs. There never seems to be a great number of high-school level entries; in fact, they’ve been fewer in number over the past few years compared to when I started judging locally some ten years ago.
So my recent experience calls into question whether or not the interest, at least locally, is even there. Might there really be a growing lack of interest in science fields…and does that stem from not being exposed to as much science in school or from other factors?
Or, as the article puts forth, are students simply unprepared?
At least from the meteorological standpoint, there’s still a lot of research yet to carry out on the inner workings of such things as hurricanes and tornadoes. The more we know, the better warnings can be…allowing more time to save lives and property.
How much will it hurt us if there are fewer researchers to get these answers?