Curious Parents

Kids Love Science, So Why Don't Parents Think It Matters?

From the laws of gravity to GPS, there are many things modern society should thank science for. Since most children are curious by nature, it comes as little surprise that many parents report that math and science are their kids' favorite subjects in school. These same parents, however, seem to believe that those subjects aren't as valuable as reading and writing when it comes to securing their children's futures. Experts disagree, and say that science education—both for parents and children—is the answer.

Good For Kids, But Not For Careers?

According to a U.S. study of 2,500 parents that was led by the Overdeck Family Foundation and the Simons Foundation, math and science rank highest in children's favorite subjects. But only 59 percent of parents think science is important when it comes to getting a good job—and 45 percent agreed with the idea that the average American doesn't need science skills. This lines up with previous research: a 2007 survey of Kansas and Missouri parents found that while 57 percent of parents think the U.S. is far behind other countries in math and science achievement, when pressed about whether their own school should be teaching more of it, 70 percent thought things were fine as-is. The researchers believe that parental opinions go a long way in terms of their kids' futures. If parents understand the value of science, their kids will likely understand and love science too.

Part of this disconnect may stem from the fact that parents don't have a big grasp of science themselves. Only 56 percent of parents believe that they use science skills on a daily basis, compared to 88 percent for writing and 93 percent for reading. "We need to show kids that science is alive and relevant for every student, not just for the future career scientists," Laura Overdeck, chair of Overdeck Family Foundation said in a press release. "Parents can easily show that throwing a football and baking a cake are science in action. Most people don't equate these activities with physics and chemistry, but in fact, these examples show kids that science will help them in daily life."

Related: Teachers Can Spread Math Anxiety To Their Students

Make Science Fun Again

Surveys also show that regardless of their feelings about their importance, parents think their kids are high performers in math and science. At least 75 percent of parents graded their children with As and Bs in reading, writing, math, and science. Recent assessments by the National Assessment of Education Progress, however, show that only 32 percent and 33 percent of U.S. students perform at or above proficiency in science and math, respectively. The findings of this study essentially support the need to encourage kids and parents to explore math and science in a fun, real-life, hands-on way, outside of of a stuffy classroom.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. If an art class only taught you how to paint a fence and never showed you paintings of the masters, you would probably not become a lover of art. This is how most math is taught. 00:13

  2. "Mathematics is essential to our freedom and the function of our democracy." 02:57

  3. Science should be communicated in a way that links to something that people already know. 05:28

STEM Integration in K-12 Education

Written by Sam Suarez May 8, 2017

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