Science Education & Policy

The U.S. educational system clearly produces some of the best minds in the world.

America leads in science output and in adult science literacy, yet when it comes to standardized tests, the United States has always been in the middle of the pack and that has long been a concern.

Even before Jacqueline Ho enrolled in her first environmental studies course at college, her thinking about climate change had been shaped during her years growing up in Singapore reading books by the environmental writer and activist Bill McKibben.

At college, ideas first planted by McKibben were reinforced in courses where she read classics by Aldo Leopold and Garrett Hardin, along with recent books by Van Jones and Elizabeth Kolbert.

With these authors anchoring her understanding, it was easy for Ho to believe about climate change “that fossil fuel corporations were to blame, that we had a suite of low-carbon technologies we could deploy immediately, and that grassroots solutions held promise,” she recalls.

A survey of nearly 7,000 people found that 98 percent want to to know if their genetic data contains indicators of a serious preventable or treatable disease. The study comes after the Government's announcement that Genomics England will sequence 100,000 genomes by 2017, begins an important and on-going conversation about how our genomic data is used. 

Since 2006, some schools have been giving up desks in the belief that sedentary education is doing a disservice to children. Another study adds to that debate. The Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health finds students with standing desks are more attentive than their seated counterparts, with 12 percent greater on-task engagement in classrooms with standing desks 

 The findings were based on a study of almost 300 children in second through fourth grade who were observed over the course of a school year. Engagement was measured by on-task behaviors such as answering a question, raising a hand or participating in active discussion and off-task behaviors like talking out of turn.

You may find these remarks cynical. You may find them helpful.


The U.S. won't change the predominately white-male face of its science and technology workforce until higher education addresses the attitudes, behaviors and structural practices that undermine minority students' access and success at college, a new study suggests.

Dropping off a child at kindergarten for the first time can be one of the most memorable yet terrifying experiences of parenthood. Among the many concerns parents face is the worry whether your child will make friends - a key factor, research shows, in reducing anxiety, depression and the likelihood of being bullied.

For parents of children with disabilities, the concern is even greater as four-out-of-10 of their children will enter kindergarten without the social skills necessary to develop close friendships. The response from schools has been to create inclusive classrooms, where a significant number of students with disabilities now receive the majority of their education and are believed to have a better chance at developing close relationships with peers.

Health food stores often regard science and evidence-based medicine as the tools of profiteering and greed so it is ironic that they continue to sell dietary supplements to children. Some even recommend them, despite clear warning labels that read "for adult use only."

Though supplements are an unregulated wild frontier at the US Food&Drug Administration level, body-shaping supplements are banned for sale to minors in 49 U.S. states. Nonetheless, 15-year-olds were able to buy them in health food stores across the country and the staff even recommended certain products that were illegal for sale to minors.

Those "Diary Of A Wimpy Kid" books are not "The Good Earth", they are not going to win Pulitzer Prizes, but they are a lot better for kids in the summer than staying glued to YouTube videos. And for most kids, that is going to be the choice. Rather than sending home a reading list (poor schools) or stacks of books (rich schools) in the hopes of combating the the literacy loss experienced during the summer break, a new study finds that letting kids choose the books is better.

A Boston College expert in educational measurement is taking a look at the controversial college and university rankings lists that are promoted by schools hoping to lure full-fare students from out of state and parents and students who want validation for their choices.