Why the University of California Needs to Lead a Redefinition of Science Education

October 8, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


– It’s a great pleasure
to introduce Bruce Alberts and he asked me to keep it short. Professor Emeritus in
Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of
California San Francisco. As a scientist, Bruce’s
laboratory has been fundamental in important discoveries
in DNA replication, morphogens, Drosophila development, cytoskeleton, ranging
biochemistry to cell biology. He’s also one of the great
world leaders of science, having served two terms as President of the National Academy of Sciences. He was an Editor in Chief
of Science magazine, President of the American
Society for Cell Biology, United States Science Envoy, and current member or chair
of over 60 nonprofit boards, all dedicated one way
or another to science and science education. Bruce, as somebody who knows him well, called him “a grand old man of science.” He’s also dedicated his career to improving science education, promoting science as a tool
for international diplomacy and infusing the non-scientific world with scientific thinking and values. Since 1983, he’s also
dedicated an amazing effort in producing Molecular
Biology of the Cell, one of the great cellular
biology textbooks used in universities around the world. He travels around the world and as a science envoy
instituted in Indonesia, Indonesia Frontiers of Science, to bring scientists
together from Indonesia and the United States. He does a tremendous amount
on an international level. In addition to his incredible
scientific abilities and abilities to bring people together from all different walks
of life in the world, Bruce is also an incredible human being. It’s hard to know that,
once you interact with him, but to give you a little annecdote, is that when we were in his laboratory, we saw his schedule one day, in which he had a luncheon meeting with the then First Lady Hillary Clinton. And at the same time, I don’t
know if he noticed this, he actually shared an elevator
ride with a lonely student, from the UCFS pharmacy program. And he spent five minutes with her, learning about all the
strengths and weaknesses of the pharmacy program at UCFS. I got a call later that
evening from my cousin, who it was he talked to,
said “The man is amazing.” I mean he just actually
spent five minutes with her, just very humble, very intelligent, very dedicated to making the world a better place through science. So it is a great honor and privilege to introduce Bruce Alberts. (audience claps) – Thank you Alfie, it’s a real pleasure to be back again. University of California, where I’ve been on one of the campuses, UCFS, ever since 1976. And I’ve also worked a lot, trying to improve science education in the state of California which is part of the reason why I’m giving this talk. It’s been a frustrating task, and it needs to involve all of us. So, just to back up a bit, all of life is an education, and I received a major education as President of the
National Academy of Sciences in Washington, that was a full-time job. I had close my laboratory, in fact, Ralphie had gotten there
only shortly before I left. So that experience was profound. It made me realize that
science and scientists must achieve a much higher
position in society. Both in every nation and in the world. Otherwise we’re going to be in a big mess. And in particular, I learned, this is to India about
Prime Minister Nehru’s founding of that first democracy in India, the independent country. He emphasized the need
for a scientific temper for any diverse democracy, and I would say, for any diverse world. Everybody needs much
more of the creativity, rationality, openness, and tolerance that are inherent to science. And you just have to listen to talk radio in the United States, or see
what some of the politicians are saying to realize how crucial that is. So this is the image we want for science. This is a picture taken on the front lawn of the National Academy of Sciences on the lap of Albert Einstein. This very rumpled statue has a wonderful, accessible lap, and all the students who come to Washington for
a week with their schools, generally take their
class picture at the end on this statue. Unfortunately this is not the
image we now have for science. And we all must work to change that. Here’s one disturbing
recent fact I learned after giving one of these talks like this at the University of Wisconsin. A third grade student of one
of the people in the audience came home from school and told his mother: “Now I get it, science
is just like spelling; “you just need to memorize it “and it doesn’t make any sense.” And if you look at what your children, your grandchildren are doing in school, all too often you could agree with them, I mean agree with that interpretation. The second disturbing
fact is when focus groups were done by the National
Academy of Sciences in preparation for their
every 10 year renewal of this document they produce
for school boards called Creationism and Science and the Nature of Science and Evolution, we discovered that many adults, these are all college educated adults, who presumably have
taken one science course in college, at least, these adults felt that science
is what scientists believe, you can believe it or not, and religion is what preachers believe and you just take your
choice of how you want to think the universe began
and how the world works. So this is what science
should look like in school. These are a bunch of 12-year
olds in San Francisco quite a while ago when
we had a very effective, active, science teaching
in middle schools. Basically, the kids
work in groups of four, noisy classrooms, the
teacher there in the back is walking around like a coach. This is a kind of science
teaching we should have, it’s not the kind of science
teaching we actually have in most parts of the United States, including most parts of California. Here’s a piece of curriculum
for kindergartners that was actually the
curriculum in San Francisco when I left in 1993,
the official curriculum for first year of school for kindergarten. And I show this slide to give people, make people aware of what
science education can be, even for five-year olds. Basically, at the right time of year when there are seeds on the ground, kids put on white socks and
walk around the schoolyard or in a park under trees, come back, and of course since seeds evolved to stick to animal fur,
they will stick to socks, but so will a lot of other things, and the job is to figure out
which of the black specks on their socks are seeds
and which are dirt. And they’re given a little
three dollar microscope and the first thing they do
is they look at each of specks that they picked off of
the forceps on their sock, put them each in a numbered square, and draw a picture of what they look like. Then the teacher doesn’t
tell them any of the answers, these five-year olds have
to come up with an idea of which are seeds and which are dirt, and somebody, student will
eventually, in that class, suggest that maybe the regular
shaped ones are the seeds. Then the teacher doesn’t
say that’s the right answer, she says, “well what do
the rest of you think?” You know it takes time to teach this way. Kids have to think, and
eventually the class agrees this is a reasonable idea. And then, a few days later
they discuss how you might test an idea, and again the
teacher doesn’t tell them. Some kid eventually comes up with the idea that you can plant both sets of seeds and see if our hypothesis,
our idea, is correct. So this demonstrates, that
even for the youngest kids in school, you could actually train them to think like scientists. So the vision, is to have
an education like this in every year of school. Of course, the tasks get more difficult as the kids get older. We have such curricula that would, in fact post-Sputnik,
the U.S. was the leader in developing this kind of
active science learning. So my hypothesis, and belief, is that if every kid learned how to
solve these kids of problems, they would be more effective human beings. Most importantly, they’d be
able to make wise judgements for their family, their
community, and their nation. They wouldn’t be fooled by every scam, by every politician who wants their vote. So what I learned at the Academy was this. Because when I came to the
Academy, I was offered the job, I didn’t really want to close my lab but, in 1993 they said that if I took this job, I could use the academy to
focus on science education and we were in the middle of doing the National Science Education Standards. I was on that committee, and
I tried to use the Academy to work on this national problem of improving science education. And, many of my members would say, this is not a proper use of the Academy. It’s not the job of
academics, it’s the job of school teachers and school boards. But what I actually learned
was the major barrier to change is actually us, those in the Academy, those at universities who teach science. This is a diagram from an
early Academy publication just showing the network, with all these arrows
pointing at the poor teachers. Actually, my daughter
is a science teacher, so I know that this is true. You have the text book publishers, these high-stakes exams with
multiple choice questions, you have unions, you
have all kinds of things. But here are the people here, the faculties of arts and sciences, they teach the future
teachers and they teach the future parents what is science, what is science education. And if we define science
education in the college level as active learning and
understanding what science is, learning to think like a scientist, like those five-year olds
were beginning to do, then of course the teachers will be able to teach that way. But currently, most teachers
have never learned that way, and they need complete retraining in order to teach active learning
of the kind I showed you for five-year olds. So, to show that it’s possible,
I’m showing this picture from the University of Minnesota. I actually was a site
visitor for this program. So I learned about the
fact that Robin Wright and her colleagues at the
University of Minnesota teach now all their first
year biology classes in these kinds of classrooms. This classroom has some 200 students sitting around 22 tables. Each table has two computers
connected to the internet and an overhead screen that can be used to put whatever’s on that computer up on, for everyone to see. And the teacher here,
this is Robin Wright, I put a star on her back,
it wasn’t actually there. (laughs) Unfortunately
she’s facing the wrong way, but anyway, she could throw a switch and put what’s on any one
computer on everybody’s screen. And the teacher in this case
is just like the teacher in the 12-year old class; she’s walking around the class, helping the kids deal
with problem solving. This case, using web resources, learning how to find
information for yourself. This is another picture of that classroom. And they have now built
a new science building, I give the administration
a tremendous amount of credit for building
a new science building, and the University of Minnesota
has 17 flat classrooms like this with these tables. So the good news is this type
of science education precisely fits the needs for workforce skills that have been widely expressed by U.S. business and industry. This is just an example from a book called Thinking for a Living, where these authors interviewed all these HR departments of companies. Companies are frustrated because they want to hire people who have the ability to use abstract conceptual thinking to apply them to complex,
real world problems, including problems that
involve the use of scientific and technical knowledge
that are nonstandard, full of ambiguities, and have
more than one right answer. This is critical. Is education learning the
right answers to questions? Are we training kids for a quiz show? Or are we training them to be
able to function effectively in both the world of work
and their role as citizens. There’s also bad news of course, otherwise I wouldn’t be giving this talk. Adults have incorrectly
defined what science education means for more students. And here’s an example from the
SAT II Biology Subject Test. This is a cram book: “We’ll show you “that you don’t really have
to understand anything. “You just have to make a
couple of simple associations, “like these. Aerobic respiration “with presence of oxygen
more ATP produced, “Anaerobic respiration
with absence of oxygen, “less ATP produced. “When we get through, you may
not really understand much, “but you don’t have to,
and we’ll prove it.” So this is a high stakes exam, to get kids into college, and this is created by adults. So we’re mis-defining the
whole education system. And I’ll give you another example. It’s sad, it’s easy to find
these examples, very sad. Of course I’m a cell biologist now. I started as a chemist, but
now I’m a cell biologist. Middle school students who come in contact with real cells and learn
how amazing they are, they’re really the most
amazing thing on the Earth, just the simplest living cell. But instead we try to fill
their heads with all the names and parts of their processes. I call this science
education as “mentioning.” This is from a seventh
grade life science textbook which has these bold words
that tell you what’s important. And this says: “Running
through the cells is a network “of flat channels called
the endoplasmic reticulum.” Well I had never heard the
of the endoplasmic reticulum til I had to write a textbook. I was already a professor. “This organelle manufactures,
(audience laughs) “this organelle manufactures, stores, “and transports materials.” And then in the next paragraph, there’s a similar sentence
about the golgi apparatus, also a bolded word. And so you have these
seventh grade textbooks with 500 word glossaries
to memorize these parts, of cells and everything else. And this to show the students, that what’s important about education. There’s a chapter self-test
at the end of the chapter that says, “Write a sentence that uses the term endoplasmic
reticulum correctly.” They’ve only had one sentence. So is it any wonder that when I’m teaching first year medical students at UCFS, these highly selected,
best students from UCSD and everywhere else, you
get terrific students, we get the impression, the pushback, just tell us what to memorize. We don’t need to understand anything, just tell us what to memorize. This is crazy. So, just to drive the nail in the coffin, this is high-stakes fifth grade California sample test question, all this No Child Left Behind stuff, that’s really damaged U.S. education. So here’s one of the actual questions: “A scientist needs to take a picture of the well-ordered
arrangements of the atoms and molecules within a substance. Which of the following
instruments would be best for the scientist to use?’ And they give you a choice of four. Now of course there is no right answer because the electron microscope
can’t really resolve that. But even if there was a right answer, who cares if they know all the
names of these instruments? That is not science education. Because remember, these are fifth graders. So, a critical challenge
today is that it’s much easier to test for science words
than for science understanding and abilities. And bad tests are forcing a trivialization of science education,
driving most students away from science, my
grandchildren included. So this weeks experiment sponsored by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation where I’m a trustee and I’ve
been actively involved in this, starting on Friday and Saturday
we’re bringing together leading scientists, in fact
three Nobel Price winners plus the best people in
the country who are experts in science assessment, to try to ask the question, can outstanding scientists contribute to producing science tests that measure what is important for students to learn, rather than that what is easy to measure? This needs to be a critical thing, because we learned from the last decade of No Child Left Behind,
that what’s tested for is what’s taught. If we’re testing for memorizing
stethoscope and seismograph and things like that, that’s
what teachers will teach. So most of all, we need to make a science out of science education. That is, treat education
the way we treat science: use evidence to make decisions. So education is as important as health but we treat the two
completely differently. This is just some evidence about what the California State Education
Board has done in the past, the California State School Board. For example, in 1987
the School Board voted to ban the use of phonics
for teaching reading. And that lasted for nearly a decade before research showed
what a mistake that was. These crazy top-down decisions. So this happens all the time in education. So instead of flying blind,
we need to use knowledge of what increases student learning, based on scientifically obtained evidence, to create a continuously
improving education system at all levels. The same kind of thing we do for medicine, we don’t, hopefully, make decisions on what kind of treatments to give people based on what people believe. That was the pre-scientific
era of medicine. So this would require much more focused and effective system
of education research, otherwise we won’t have
the background knowledge that we need to counteract politicians who think they have all the right answers. Every new school superintendent
who comes in is going to fix the problem and change everything in the next two years
and then they’re out. In big city school systems,
the superintendent is as much a political job as anything else. So the Academy, when I
was there I said we’d try to work on education. We published some 150 education reports. This is one of the most successful ones, called How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. It looked at what had been
learned in psychology departments about the nature of learning, and then tried to apply that to schools. That’s where some of
these scientific evidence for active learning has been displayed in this very influential book which is widely used for
pre-teacher education in many places. And then we had this
series of reports called The Strategic Education
Research Partnership. And this was two successive
committees made up of leaders from industry, school systems, education research. A very high profile effort. And the major question the committee was supposed to ask was, “Why has research supported innovation “and continuous improvement
in medicine, agriculture, “and transportation, but not in education? “And what can we do about it?” I’m going to oversimplify, the answer is that, part
of the answer is that education is missing the equivalent of the teaching hospital in medicine. That is, so called field sites, places where researchers,
teachers, and designers work in practice settings, in real schools, to define problems and test solutions in context, and evaluate practice as a source of new knowledge. Much of the problem in
education research world was deemed to be that
what the research projects were done in artificial
laboratory systems, working on problems that
the researcher defined, and SERP said, you have to
go work in real schools, set up field sites, and try
to answer the urgent problems of that school district
in a real world setting. So the first SERP field
site was set up in Boston because the Superintendent
of Schools in Boston, Tom Payzant, was a
member of the committee. And the focus was something
called middle school literacy, which I had never heard of. And basically, Boston discovered, and many others have
discovered the same thing, that students drop out of high school and one of the major
reasons why they drop out of high school in the first year is that they can’t understand the textbooks. The basic fact is that,
traditionally we’ve stopped teaching reading at fourth grade because that’s when
you can start decoding. You can read the work book, and a student can, you know, these high school students
who were dropping out could take the textbook
and read the words to you, but they didn’t really
understand what it meant. And so basically, the SERP
team had to figure out what, why can’t they understand
what they’re reading. And we had to design interventions to try to make a difference so that this would not be the case in the future. So this led to the recognition that one of the major problems of
reading for comprehension is kids don’t know a whole bunch of words that are common in textbooks,
called academic language. Nobody uses in their
homes, they don’t use it when they’re talking to
their fellow students. Words like “analyzed” for example. They’re just very common
words like this in, when we try to write books
for high school levels. So that led to something, a
project called Word Generation, which was SERP’s first free products, and there’s a wonderful
website with all this up on it. I’ll give you the link in a second. But the idea is to create
open source curricula that can be used. And this Word Generator
has been a big success, as being widely used around the country. So the basic idea is to
have a series of lessons, 15 minute, basically, debates. And they target, every
week, five different words of academic language that
are not used at home. This week it was “whereas,” “capable,” “ongoing,” “compatible,” and “notion.” And there’s some, website has
all these wonderful videos of these outstanding teachers
actually teaching this way to help other teachers use it. And this is an example of some of the, so each lesson is a debate on wiretapping, there’s one about, I
don’t think it’s up here, one of the questions that they debate, “Should you be required to get a license before you can have a baby?” Things that students are
interested in (laughs). And part of this was the second
field site was San Francisco where I live. And used to try to go to these meetings. They had frequent team meetings where half the people in the
room were graduate students and professors of education or science from Berkeley, Stanford, UCSF, and the other half of the people were from the school district,
people responsible for curriculum and teaching. The people from the school
district were so appreciative of the fact that they could
think long term for a change because they’re always putting out fires. And the people from
academia were appreciative of the fact that maybe what
they actually had learned throughout their life of being a professor could actually be useful
and have some effect in real world schools. So this has been a very
successful project, now 10 years old. And this is the website
with lots of resources, not only in literacy, but
also some in science and math. Okay, there’s also the critical issue of empowering teachers. My daughter is a science
teacher in a public school in San Francisco. I’ve interacted for many many years with outstanding science teachers in the San Francisco
schools and other schools. And a sad fact is that U.S.
industry learned a long time ago from the Japanese, that
building a better automobile requires listening to
workers on the assembly line, otherwise you can’t make a good product. And this has been spread
through all of U.S. industry. Every marketing department,
of every company, feeds back information from the customer. And education is one of the
few parts of our society that has failed to exploit this fact. It’s what keeps me up at night. (laughs) Our best science teachers need
to have much more influence on the education system. We have a top down education
system in most places that you wouldn’t want
to work in an environment that when you had a good idea, there was no way to get it implemented. And so of course after
a while you’d leave. And the main reason why
people leave teaching is not because of the salary, it’s because of the environment
that they have to work in. So we need to work to
empower our best teachers to have influence on what actually happens in their life of work. So when I was at the Academy
it took me a long time to recognize this because
I kept on putting, the Academy President has
absolute power for one thing, you approve every committee
that does a study. So if I got any committee that was going to study something in education, we had 150 such studies when I was there, I sent it back to put more teachers on it. So have outstanding
teachers on our committees, maybe four teachers, but
there’ll be 10 academics plus the four teachers. And it took me a long time to recognize that the teacher’s voice was
not being adequately heard. Because the academics
are used to committees and the teachers were not
being influential enough, so we set up, after about eight years, we set up a National
Teacher Advisory Council, some of the best teachers, this is the same Einstein statue again. And this is a group of teachers that rotates every three years, to try to inform every study
that’s done in the Academy in education, what the teacher’s voice, what the teacher knows. Since that time, a California
Teacher Advisory Council was established in Sacramento. It’s run by the California Council on Science and Technology, which is sort of a state
version of the National Academy, where I worked, and it makes connections to legislators and education
leaders in Sacramento. We also need a similar
expert teacher group in each school district, because education is as
complicated as cell biology. It’s really not a simple
thing to educate children. And our best teachers are really experts in how to make the system work better. Okay, I’m now going to shift
to my life as Science magazine. So, for the five years
I was editor-in-chief of Science magazine. I thought I was retired, actually, and I was happy at UCSF teaching graduate students cell biology, and then I got a call from a recruiter, one of these search firms saying they’re looking for an editor-in-chief of Science magazine. I said I’m not interested, and I suggested a bunch of
names of younger people. Then eventually I got a
call offering me the job. And just like they did in the academy, they did the same trick,
if I took this job, I could use it to promote
science education. They knew I was a sucker for
such a statement (laughs). So I did it for five years. And it was great to have
control of the editorial page, we had lots of editorials
on science by me and others, talking about teaching real science. And then we had a series of contests over the course of four years. The first contest was we had one winner a month, publish on the best free
science education websites. This recognized the fact
that there’s wonderful things on the web, but nobody
knows where they are. And there’s huge amounts of good things and huge amounts of mediocre things. We now have selected 24 websites, each one had two page article explaining what that website was good for, so you didn’t have to go to the website unless you thought it would be useful for what you were doing. We followed that with an
even more relevant contest to this audience, what are
the best college inquiry based active learning teaching modules that have been developed. Because of the way we judged
it, it had to be in English, so we didn’t survey
everybody in the world. We have had 24 winners of this
IBI college science prize, and they’ve also been published, two pages on each one. This is the first one we published. Each one has an electronic supplement with all of the instructions you need to actually teach that set of laboratories or non-laboratory course. At any rate, to qualify,
you had to have done this for several years and showed
that it can be transferred, not that it simply can
be done in one place. We also had lots of
special issues for them on science education. The last one was called Grand Challenges in Science Education, which just before I left
being editor-in-chief and they gave me a special prerogative to actually being able to work on it and select authors. And one of my favorite
articles is this one by Jim Pellegrino an expert
in science assessment. One of the people who’s
going to be organizing a meeting starting at
the end of this week, that the Moore Foundation is sponsoring. And this is a wonderful
description of the problems and challenges in creating
good science tests. It’s just a four page
article, easy to read. If you’re interested I’d recommend it. Another major project was
based on the fact that we now want in the United States through the “Next Generation
Science Standards,” which have been adopted by California, Oregon, Washington, many other states, but basically every student is to “engage “in a critical reading of
primary scientific literature “with the aim of understanding
how science works “and what science is.” Just think about that first slide I showed about these adults,
college educated adults, they couldn’t see any difference between what religious leaders say and what scientific leaders say about, for example, the
evolutionary processes on Earth. Basically, they’re just two
different belief systems. Well, if you’ve actually
read a scientific paper and read it in a way that
focuses on understanding how science works and
how scientific knowledge is built up, you couldn’t
equate those two ways of looking at the world. We also had a project called
Science in the Classroom. It’s a collection of
annotated research papers from Science magazine
plus teaching materials. And the aim is to help
students understand the nature of professional scientific research. Currently eight science
papers have been annotated already for use in the classroom and more are coming up soon. One of your faculty
just told me she has one coming up next week. What does it mean to annotate them? Well we work back and forth with teachers on all this, and many iterations. Basically, there’s this side panel, called a learning lens,
which allows you to, if you click on glossary, then these green boxes come up all throughout the article. And I should stress that
this is the actual article, it’s not revised, the actual article. And of course we choose
articles that are appropriate. This is one on this emerging
disease causing bats to die across America. We don’t choose quantum mechanics and things like that. So basically, you could
turn on the glossary, and then when you mouse over that word, it will define it, because
one of the problems of understanding scientific papers is all the language. You could also click on previous work, conclusions, author’s
experiments, and so on. Now the figures are important
parts of every paper and they’re often difficult. So the figures have been expanded with the addition of further explanations for each part of the figure. Then of course to
understand how science is, works, you have to see how
it builds on previous work, or contradicts previous work, and so the references have been annotated to explain why the author
referred to those references. There’s this red tool
bar across the bottom that allows you to
download a PDF or whatever, but also allows you to
connect to the news articles in Science magazine on the same topics. So you can connect this scientific article to things that the kids read
about in their newspaper, real problems. And of course the whole
emphasis is on thinking about science, not about facts. Why is this study important? What was its objective? What is the supporting evidence and so on? And there’s a special teachers section where the teacher’s guide. And the authors of these papers have been wonderful in being enthusiastically supporting this. And in many cases given us
videos or data, in fact, to analyze if you want to extend and try to look at their original data and assign real science work
to some of the students. And I want to emphasize,
this is all open access. At this website, I’ll put
that slide up at the end if you want to be able to find it. Now I’m talking about the amazing power of science education partnerships because this is also
very relevant to UCSD. You live in a big city,
lots of students trying to learn science, young people. This university is
potentially a great resource for connecting people
who would never connect to science, to real science. And UCSF has had, my university, 25 year old Science Education Partnership. Each year scientists
volunteer, it’s mostly students and post-docs, contribute more
than 10,000 hours of time. We’re active in 90% of
San Francisco schools, these are the dots of where
the schools are located. UCSF, the original campus, is right there. I’m in Mission Bay, way over there. At any rate, what I’ve learned about
this is the amazing power of these kinds of partnerships. The students who do this, the post-docs, if they spend maybe four
hours a week on this, I think they’re more
productive in their research because research often doesn’t work, you need to press and
you can’t do anything. You go out in the schools and you realize, interacting with people, you know things that are useful. It makes them more energetic and more able to solve their real problems. What I have learned about partnerships is that any effective partnership requires that the partners deeply respect and honor each other’s unique expertise. We do not allow our
scientists within the schools without sort of a debriefing
before they go in about what to do and what not to do. The worse thing is to
go and give a lecture that the teacher and the
students don’t understand, and then you leave and the students try to ask the teacher to
explain what you said and the teacher feels humiliated and everybody’s confused. (laughs) We have them going in with doing something in active learning. Our funding agents must work to decrease the strong
incentives for everybody unique. And so the best things in
education often don’t spread because to get a grant to do education you have to do something different, rather than spreading good things. And then any partnership
obviously only works when you’re working with a
partner on something meaningful and here I’m talking about something that I’ve been very
interested in getting going, a STEM badge program. So like the merit badges that
kids have in middle school for Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. Kids who have a particular
interest in frogs, or astronomy or whatever,
could actually get into something in depth and get credit for learning something outside of school. So, the dream really is this: Can a child’s science education serve to impart scientific values? I mentioned that when I started, this idea that scientific temper for the world and for our country is really the crucial thing
we have to think about. There’s this wonderful book still in print by Jacob Bronowski called
Science and Human Values, it’s a little paperback. Bronowski was a physicist
during World War II. As a young soldier he flew
over Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bombs had been dropped, that profoundly depressed him. And he spend the next 10
years, thinking, and writing, and reading about whether
science unbalanced was good or bad for the world. And of course, he wrote this
powerful defense of science as something good for the world. And this is really his conclusion: “The society of scientists is simple “because it has a directing purpose: “to explore the truth. “Nevertheless, it has to solve
the problem of every society, “which is to find a compromise between “the individual and the group. “It must encourage the single scientist “to be independent, and
the body of scientists “to be tolerant. “From these basic conditions,
which form the prime values, “there follows step by
step a range of values: “dissent, freedom of thought and speech, “justice, honor, human
dignity, and self respect. “Science has humanized our values. “Men have asked for freedom, justice, “and respect precisely
as the scientific spirit has spread among them.” So I would take this as our big mission. We were talking, before this I met with a bunch of faculty, as faculty at UCSD what should be our aim for our undergraduate students? I would say your aim should be that nobody leaves here,
no matter what their major, without understanding what science is and how it works. And yet, if you actually did a survey now, you’d find that, I would bet, the majority of your students do not
understand what science is and how it works. Even if they’d taken a so-called
science course perhaps. So without that appreciation for science, we can’t expect support for our enterprise to continue in a strong way. And we can’t expect our citizens to make the right
decisions about issues like global warming, or
environmental pollution, or whatever else it is. We have to do the right thing because science can predict
what the future is like, and if our governments don’t,
because of our citizens, don’t pay attention to
the long term implications of what we do today, we’re in big trouble. So this is a high stakes
issue that you’re involved in. Every faculty member at the
University of California who teaches science is
part of this effort, and has to be part of that effort. And as I was saying, we were
discussing this morning, in science I would never think of starting to do
experiments in some field without reading everything
I could find out about what had already been
done and building on it. Yet when I started as a
assistant professor at Princeton, this was 1966, nobody even thought about doing that in education. I just got up there and talked. We now know that lecturing is a relatively ineffective way of teaching. From many many studies, that most students learn
much more effectively from active discussion
and inquiry in class, the kind of thing that is happening at the University of Minnesota. There’s all kinds of scientific
evidence to this effect, some of it published in Science magazine, but how we gonna get our faculties to pay attention to it,
that’s the question. And that’s what we were struggling with. So I told them this story. If this doesn’t wake people up, then nothing else will. So one of the things that the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, again this wonderful
foundation set up by one of the co-founders of Intel, he gave six billion dollars
to start this foundation, and one of the things
that they’ve sponsored is a series of fellowships, internships, at the California State Legislature. It’s modeled after the AAAS Fellowship that sends highly selected
scientists and engineers every year to Washington
to work in science policy for our government. Well, the idea was the
California State Legislature also needs this kind of
scientific connection. So, the first year which
was like five years ago, six years ago, they did this competition, they had 180 applications,
or something like that. Interviewed people,
selected 10 really talented, young scientists and engineers. Give them their full salary support to go for one year to Sacramento to work in the State Legislature. Then you go to the
California State Legislature offering them these 10 people. Now California is a state that is based on science and technology. And the California State
Legislature determines our policy. We were all surprised to
find out, that initially, people didn’t know what
scientists were good for, why would I want a scientist. I think they remembered
some horrible class they might have had, big lecture class where they couldn’t understand anything and got a D or C or something. But the image of scientists in the California State Legislature was totally inappropriate. What the good news is that
after the first class of 10 had been there for a year,
now everybody wanted them. And it’s now the fifth class. There’ll now have been 50 of those people in the state legislature, and of the first 40, half of them have been
permanently hired in Sacramento. So you know, the fact is, we failed in the state of California
to make even our legislature, much less our citizens, aware
of the values of science and most of our people seem
to be afraid of science, or anyway. So this is the reason why
we all have to change. So I just wanted to leave
you with this website I talked about, sort of a parting gift when I left Science was we were able to put up everything we did in education on an open-access website,
all our special issues, our editorials, the IBI
Prize for College Science, the SPER Prize for the Best Websites, all that science in the classroom stuff. So hopefully this will help to, in a small way at least,
to spread better science and science teaching across the
United States and the world. Thank you. (audience claps)