Kids & Success: Who needs science? (And, a word from Morgan Freeman)

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Kids & Success

Still from FIRST robotics video with Morgan FreemanThe U.S. continues to lag behind other countries when it comes to math and science. Today, I’m going to show you an inspiring 3-minute video made with Morgan Freeman to promote one strategy for changing that situation.

But the larger question I hope you will discuss with friends this week is: How can we close the gap when many Americans don’t think math and science are the keys to success?

When it comes to mathematics, the average scores for American 15-year-olds on standardized tests are significantly lower than the scores of their age peers in 28 countries, according to recent data. Those 28 include a number of Asian and European nations, plus Canada. The American kids scored about the same as nine other nations, including Norway, Portugal, Italy and Hungary. Twenty-six countries have lower scores, including Bulgaria, Tunisia and Peru.

American 15-year-olds do a little better in science, ranking behind 21 countries and tied with 13 more.

We hear a lot about the need to improve math and science, but science is ranked as the 7th most important skill to succeed out of the 10 skill areas asked about and that we listed yesterday in Part 1 of this series. Math is ranked third after communication and reading.

Higher education correlates with a lower emphasis on science. Americans with at least a college degree put science in the #7 spot. Americans with a high school degree (or less) ranked science much higher, given it the #3 position.

Do you think kids need science to succeed in today’s world?
Are you surprised to learn that Americans with more formal education place less emphasis on science as a key to success?

Take a look at this 3-minute video featuring Morgan Freeman talking about the FIRST robotics program:

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