US earth science education survey

Done by AGI, looking at Earth Science education from state to state.

I’m guessing that the colors of the various states on the map don’t have a specific meaning, since there’s no key. However, you can click on a state on the map (or in the list) to see what states require earth sciences education in public schools, what percentage of students in selected grades are taking earth sciences courses, and other information. I haven’t looked through all of the states, but I’m finding the numbers depressingly low. Then again, I suppose when you’ve only got the kids in high school for four years at the most, and are only on average requiring two years of science education, earth sciences gets trumped by chemistry and biology. That’s certainly what it was like in my high school – everyone took some form of chemistry and biology, and then you went on to physics if you were the sort of alpha geek that didn’t mind being in to school at seven in the morning so you could listen to the world’s most boring teacher drone on about algebra-based physics**. Maybe one reason is that chemistry and biology are more “general,” particularly chemistry since just about any other science you could go on to in college will require basic chemistry. Or it could just be that given limited time, chemistry and biology are more “important.”

Still, I think geology is rather important, since it’s about the world around us and how it came to be. And what kid doesn’t love watching videos of volcanoes exploding? Though I also wonder if the reason that geology as a field hasn’t suffered too many major attacks by the religious fringe is because it’s not exactly a major component of the high school curriculum like biology is.

** – As one of those snobs that did my two semesters of physics on the calculus-based side, I really don’t get the point of algebra-based physics. I suppose the math is technically easier, but considering that calculus was effectively developed in order to describe physics, it also makes a lot less sense. At least in my thinking, Difficult Concepts in Physics + Math That Makes No Sense =/= The Easy Way Out.

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