Getting Parents Interested in Science

Comic actress and writer Annabelle Gurwitch is worried that America is losing its technological edge because fewer U.S. students are studying science. She offers an unscientific survey indicating that perhaps the best way to get kids interested in science is to teach their parents some basic scientific knowledge.

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Ms. ANNABELLE GURWITCH (Actress and Writer): Every reliable source, these days, tells us that America is lagging behind in the world, in science education. And various theories are being floated, as to why this is the case.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

That's actress and writer, Annabelle Gurwitch.

Ms. GURWITCH: A recent study indicated that an interest in science, not test scores, is a better indicator that students will pursue a career in science. And, the studies' authors say, we need to foster that interest through all types of outreach programs. Personally, I think it goes a little deeper than this. The problem may, in fact, lie with the parents, like myself. I don't have the slightest idea, of how even the most rudimentary applications of physics are involved in the science that we use every day - much less applications of higher scientific knowledge. Which means that when my kid comes home with a note about participating in the school science fair, I quickly file it in my desk, in the drawer marked: how I failed as a parent. And, we work on things that I can do with him, like book reports, and first-person neurotic essays.

But, am I alone in my ignorance? Is this the root of the problem? Well, I decided to conduct a very unscientific study, by questioning the parents of my son's baseball team about their knowledge of science. First, I started with a very ambitious question. I asked if anyone could define cold fusion. I got a variety of answers, from...

Unidentified Woman #1: Is it a kind of cooking?

Ms. GURWITCH: To ...

Unidentified Man #2: The wrong bed partner.

Ms. GURWITCH: When I inquired, what's inside your computer, the most common answer was...

Unidentified Woman #2: Uhhh ...

Unidentified Man #2: Uhhh ...

Unidentified Woman #3: Um ...

Unidentified Man #3: Oooh ...

Ms. GURWITCH: Uh-huh. When I queried them on what was the most important scientific innovation in the last 20 years, here's what I learned.

Unidentified Woman #5: When they came up with the pantyhose that didn't run.

Ms. GURWITCH: Now I did speak with two parents who have a background in science and, not surprisingly, their children do projects every year in the science fair. So, I believe I have the answer. If we really want our children to excel, perhaps we need to offer science classes to the parents. I say, all of us parents should go back to school, and please, someone sign me up, because I guessed that the most important innovation in science was waterproof mascara.

(Soundbite of music)

GURWITCH: Of course I'm just kidding, but it is my deepest desire, that one day, my son will enter the science fair. At which time, I will shed tears of joy. And, through the miracle of science, they will run, spotlessly, down my cheeks.

(Soundbite of "She Blinded Me With Science")

Mr. THOMAS DOLBY: (Singing) Science!

CHADWICK: Actress and DAY TO DAY contributor, Annabelle Gurwitch.

(Soundbite of "She Blinded Me With Science")

Mr. DOLBY: (Singing) I can smell the chemicals. Science. Science. Science. Poetry in motion. When she turned her eyes to me. Deep as any ocean. Sweet as any harmony. She blinded me with science.

CHADWICK: More poetry in motion, coming on DAY TO DAY.

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