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MythBuster Adam Savage: 3 ways to fix U.S. science education… Makers post up your suggestions in the comments!

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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Comments

  1. crrieger says:

    I’ve been a fan of Mythbusters since the beginning of their show, but I’ve got to say that programs like Mythbusters don’t really help the problem that much. While very entertaining, their methods are often incomplete or questionable and kids get the impression that everything in science has to be “fun” and blow up. I’m a high school chemistry teacher and there is a lot of theory that has to be communicated before you get to the “fun” part. I do a lot of hands-on labs with my students and incorporate a lot of real-world activities, but most chemistry and physics isn’t things going boom.

    Money isn’t the problem – it’s time. So much of our time is forced into focusing only on content that will be tested on state achievement tests or on the ACT. Technically speaking, labs aren’t even part of the content I’m supposed to cover. It’s a sad state of affairs.

    I find it very difficult to put much merit to those who criticize science education who are neither scientists nor educators. I watch Mythbusters to be entertained and discover a bit about new topics, but I take what I see with a grain of salt every week. I do wish more science teachers looked like Kari, though. Me, I have an uncanny resemblance to Adam. I just need a new set of glasses and a hiarcut.

  2. Science Fan says:

    I agree with the comment above. I’m a big fan, but the Maythbuster methods often run far, far afoul of the scientific method. Not a problem, but then we have to watch them pontificate as self proclaimed science-whizzes. A thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters will eventually write all the great novels — I wouldn’t call them novelists.

    Sorry, not interested in how Mentos and Coke will solve the challenges facing America’s education system. These shows are entertaining but fundamentally deepen the assault on Science and Scientific methods.

  3. Dave says:

    If you can not get enough of Jamie and Adam, here is the full version of their presentation at NVISION 08. It runs about 15 minutes and you will see exactly want the audience saw.

  4. T says:

    So who is Adam Savage? Jamie used to compete in
    robot competitions using the name Adam Savage.
    Who is this other guy?

  5. zof says:

    crrieger – While I agree to much of schooling is put into passing tests and not actually learning the subject, I believe you are wrong when you say theory comes first. That is one of the problems with out science education today, sure chemistry and physics are a large majority theory but if you wait to that point to try and get people interested in a subject matter you are too late. It has to start at the middle school level with physical and life sciences and it has to be interesting to those students in order for them to have a continuing interest in the subject to last past high school.

    The text books need to be thrown out and proper and interesting curriculum need to be created from the ground up and not by any government or publisher. The children have not failed the system, the system has failed the children.

  6. BigD145 says:

    Teaching kids biology and ecology should be at the forefront of science. Teach them things that are extremely personal. If a kid can’t get interested in knowing themselves and their surroundings, then they are pretty much a lost cause. Toss them in a cubicle and let them push papers around.

  7. richard HARRIS says:

    I am in the UK and the problem is the same – Government reduced the science curriculum to global warming, energy, and a few superficial issues with NO REAL science content to “improve the take up of the subject”

    Education almost world wide has become focused on passing exams and not on education people.

    Well known quote:

    “I hear – I forget, I see – I remember, I do I understand”

    Spurious Health and Safety considerations have removed most of the practical possibilities.

  8. ehrichweiss says:

    I’m completely and totally NOT a fan of the Mythbusters. I used to enjoy watching them but it quickly became apparent the show was about entertainment, not science, when I watched them seemingly intentionally avoid taking a scientific approach to several of their projects or even doing basic research on them. Why would they do that? The answer is simple; they get money for being on TV and if they get viewer letters that complain about the methods they used for a project then they get to use the same subject and a lot of the older footage again.

    This is akin to how the old TV shows used to have the “flashback” episodes where all they did was sit around and reminisce about things that happened in old episodes.

    So in their case, complaints of their stupidity = mo money. If that doesn’t encourage willful ignorance, I don’t know what does.

  9. Simon says:

    I like Mythbusters too for the entertainment value. I have always thought it would be cool to do an edited version of the show though taking out all the repeated information. You’d end up with a show about 20 minutes long! A US friend of mine says that’s just American TV. With so many channels people channel hop so they constantly need to be reminded of what’s going on!

  10. gnomic says:

    Science entertainment isn’t a bad thing; it can get a kids attention and draw him into a new and interesting world. But Mythbusters – and education – need to give the kids real challenges, with resources and get out of their way.

    My high school – 25+ years ago – wouldn’t let me build the projects (specifically, lasers) out of Scientific American and wanted me to perform the same boring lab tests over and over.

    Over the years, I’ve seen a half-dozen of the ideas I thought about building but didn’t have the skills and confidence happen and I think about what might have been.