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Scientists needed in USA today with "Nova" offering "Science NOW" in Fall

Dave Masko's picture

While most TV today focuses on amusing oneself; the PBS TV science show “Nova” aims to help inspire future scientists with a new fall program called “Science NOW.”

The popular PBS TV program “Nova” revolves around a simple premise: the world of science is exciting and those youth who watch it may become inspired to become scientists one day. In turn, Nova’s producers ask who will be the next Galileo, Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, or Albert Einstein; while announcing a new fall addition to Nova’s usual science focused programming called “ScienceNOW.” In turn, a recent July 7 report in the Washington Post states that America “needs more scientists.” Yet, even with much of today’s American youth wired to the teeth; many of these elementary, high school and college students seem to view technology as a means to entertain themselves; with smaller numbers dedicating themselves to science as a career choice.

Nova offers a remedy for low science interest in America

If you're interested in science be sure to view the PBS TV science program “Nova,” and also the Nova education website with an impressive collection of Nova resources for bringing science, technology and engineering “to life” in the comfort of wherever you watch TV or surf the Internet.

“This free digital library is tied to teaching standards and includes video, audio segments, interactive and previous Nova television shows,” explains Rachel Connolly, director of Nova’s education website; while also asserting its goal of “making sure Nova Education works for you.”

Also, Nova has recently announced the new “Science NOW” for the fall season.

Nova – as part of the nation’s Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) - supports the President’s Council of Advisors in Science and Technology (PCAST). And, with “millions of high school youth now believed to be ‘home schooled,’ a science education resource such as Nova is well worth viewing,” explained a charter school teacher in Reedsport, Oregon, where she said the “fall mantra will be science, science and more science.”

In turn, PCAST concluded earlier this year “that one million science career graduates are needed over the next decade” to fill the growing number of jobs that require science skills.

Thus, as a service to the nation, Nova is adding a new “Science NOW” initiative that’s set for the new fall TV season.

According to a statement by Julia Cort on the Nova TV website, “I’m delighted to share the news that David Pogue, the New York Times tech guru who is well known to viewers of Nova’s ‘Making Stuff’ series, will be joining us as the host of Nova Science NOW when it premieres this fall.

ScienceNOW makes learning fun for kids

Cort is the executive producer of “Nova Science NOW,” and her work has been honored with the George Foster Peabody Award, the AAAS Science Journalism Award, the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award, and winner of a News and Documentary Emmy award.

Also, Cort explained on the Nova TV website how “David Pogue is already a familiar face to audiences of the flagship Nova series with recent stints hosting the highly watched four-hour miniseries on materials science, ‘Making Stuff,’ viewed by 14 million people, and the recent two-hour special program, ‘Hunting the Elements,’ that’s now available for free viewing on the Nova website.

Nova also notes how other stories “will follow Pogue as he discovers how much Neanderthal DNA he's carrying, meets the inventors and engineers working to create mind-reading machines and thought-controlled video games, ventures into secret labs and kitchens to uncover the hidden truths behind the mouth-watering flavors and textures we take for granted each day, and much more.”

Overall, Cort said “ScienceNOW” will be a fun TV experience.

This new Nova TV offering will follow the regular weekly Nova TV broadcast on Wednesday nights, “with the Nova “ScienceNOW” series creating a block of primetime science programming for viewers this fall on Wednesday nights from 9-11 pm ET/PT on PBS.”

America youth can “play” with technology, but don’t have the right stuff to be scientists

While simply watching a Nova science TV program or even checking out the new Nova “Science NOW” initiative this fall won’t make your son or daughter a future scientist, Julia Cort and other Nova TV producers do think it may help with the series issue of many of today’s youth who are not up to speed with standards set by The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education Coalition that works with PBS and others to “support STEM programs for teachers and students at the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation and other agencies that offer STEM related programs.”

In fact, Nova’s website links to the famed “STEM Education Coalition” that represents all sectors of the technological workforce; from knowledge workers, to educators, to scientists, engineers, and technicians.

At issue states the STEM website is the issue of American students who don’t meet STEM standards: “This year, 45 percent of test-takers (compared to 43 percent last year) met or exceeded the ACT College Readiness Benchmark in math, while 30 percent (compared to 29 percent last year) met or exceeded the benchmark in science. In comparison 66 percent and 52 percent met or surpassed the benchmarks in English and reading, respectively, both unchanged from last year. The ACT report also indicates there is substantial room for improvement in college and career readiness. Among 2011 ACT-tested graduates, a combined total of 43 percent met either none (28 percent) or only one (15 percent) of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks.”

Moreover, a White House press release on the STEM challenges – that Nova and other PBS TV education programs are supporting – includes these alarming statistics and goals:

-- Fewer than 40 percent of students who enter college intending to major in a STEM field complete a STEM degree.

-- Increasing the retention rate from 40 to 50 percent would provide three-quarters of the million STEM graduates needed.

-- Colleges and universities can significantly increase their retention rates by improving faculty instructional practices, helping students rapidly improve their entry level math skills, and creating multiple pathways to excel in STEM, particularly for underrepresented groups.

Also, “key steps” announced by the White House to meet the need for 1 million more STEM graduates include:

-- A new K-16 education initiative jointly administered by Department of Education and the National Science Foundation.

-- In addition, to support comprehensive reform efforts in K-16 education, the President’s budget will fund a jointly administered initiative to improve mathematics education, with $30 million from the Department of Education and $30 million from the National Science Foundation.

-- This initiative will develop, validate and scale up evidence-based approaches to improve student learning at the K-12 and undergraduate levels through a “tiered-evidence framework” to maximize of impact of mathematics education investments.

Moreover, the White House announced how Google, PBS and other organizations in the U.S. “will share its talent management practices to help find, grow, and retain outstanding STEM teachers by partnering with districts and organizations for comprehensive reform and hosting talent academies with administrators and decision-makers.”

Nova and the president making science education a priority

A White House press release from earlier this year notes how “President Obama has made science education a priority, launching a White House science fair to get young people interested in the field.

However, the White House statement said "it’s questionable whether those youths will be able to find work when they get a PhD. Although jobs in some high-tech areas, especially computer and petroleum engineering, seem to be booming, the market is much tighter for lab-bound scientists - those seeking new discoveries in biology, chemistry and medicine."

Thus, with the new fall television season bringing the usual CSI and reality contests; along with shows that focus on sex – from horny cougars and housewives – Nova and other PBS fall programming is breaking the mold on “strictly entertainment TV,” by introducing Nova “ScienceNOW” as, perhaps, one way to again make science education a priority.

Image source of a montage of some highly influential scientists from a variety of scientific fields. Photo courtesy Wikipedia

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