Does it really matter if someone knows the exact science of a lightning bolt? What about knowing the cause of Earth's seasons? At a very basic level the answer may be no. Someone can very easily lead their life never knowing the cause of a lightning bolt with no harm or repercussions. However, the need for basic science knowledge goes well beyond the basic science itself. A strong science education leads to strong critical thinking skills. Consider a recent story about a North Carolina town voting down a proposed solar farm. During the town meetings, a retired science teacher argued that solar panels are stealing the Sun's energy and causing grass and other vegetation to die. Seriously? The town did not vote down the solar farm for this reason, but the fact this even happened is evidence science education in the U.S. has a long way to go.
One of the reasons I write this blog is to clear up basic science misconceptions that are common in the general public. None are revolutionary in any way or preventing society from advancing, but collectively sharing and teaching science creates an informed public. An informed public with strong critical thinking skills is a public that can push society forward into the future.
In case you think the North Carolina science teacher being clueless on how the sun and solar panels work is an isolated incident, think again. We have science teachers all across the country teaching the "controversy" of climate change. There is no climate change controversy. There is only an individual's person political agenda. We have science teachers across the country teaching K-12 kids that Earth is 6,000 years old!!! Seriously? It ignores all evidence available to us to believe and teach such a thing.
I hope and dream for a day in which science advocacy is not needed. Unfortunately that will not happen in my lifetime. I'm optimistic and believe society will reach this stage, but it will take time. So what can you do? It's simple. Be a science-active parent for your child(ren). Take your kids to science museums, sciences shows, planetariums, etc. Take you kids to local science programs offered in the evenings or on the weekends. Enroll your kids in science camps. Check out science books from the library and insert a few science related gifts during the holidays and for birthdays. You don't need to be a scientist to immerse your child in a world of science!