Better math, science education urged

Nine in 10 Americans think today's students may not have the math and science skills required for homeland security and economic leadership in the 21st century, according to a Gallup survey released Tuesday.

Improving pre-college math and science education should be a national priority, they said.

These are among the central findings of the "Bayer Facts of Science Education IX: Americans' Views on the Role of Science and Technology in U.S. National Defense," a survey of 1,004 Americans age 18 and over commissioned by Bayer Corp. as part of its Making Science Make Sense program. The MSMS initiative advances science literacy through hands-on, inquiry-based science learning, employee volunteerism and public education.

The Washington-based Gallup Organization conducted the survey in March and April. Nine out of 10 Americans surveyed said a strong national science and technology capability is a critical component of U.S. security at home and abroad and eight in l0 believe it will be "very important" in helping the U.S. meet future terrorist threats.

"Americans increasingly recognize that science and technology do not just provide us with new medicines, better electronics and high-tech gadgets. They are on the front lines, defending and protecting us and the country," said John Payne, president and general manager of Bayer HealthCare LLC's Animal Health Division, North America, and chairman of Bayer's Making Science Make Sense program.

But the majority of Americans surveyed said poor U.S. student performance in science and math on the Third International Math and Science Study may negatively impact the nation's future security and economic prosperity.

When asked about how pre-college science should be taught, 86 percent said they favor replacing textbook-based education with hands-on science learning that helps students develop skills such as critical-thinking, problem-solving and working collaboratively with others.

Survey participants also said:

"It is important for companies that employ science and technology workers to play an active role in improving pre-college science education." (94 percent)

"Company employee-volunteer programs that bring scientists, engineers and technical workers into classrooms to work with students and teachers are valuable." (98 percent)

"Internship programs for high school students that bring students into companies to interact with scientists, engineers and technicians are valuable." (98 percent)

"Internship programs for K-12 science teachers that bring the teachers into companies to interact with scientists, engineers and technicians are valuable." (95 percent)

Bayer Corp. of Pittsburgh is the U.S. holding company of the worldwide Bayer Group, an international health care and chemicals group based in Leverkusen, Germany.

The report is available at

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