Positive strides have been made since 1995 to advance science literacy in the United States, but teachers and parents agree that more hands-on, experiential learning must be adopted in order to improve science education for future generations, according to the results of the 2015 Bayer Facts of Science Education Survey released today.
For 20 years, Bayer has issued the survey, which assesses science education in the United States and evaluates its development. Although positive strides have been made, survey results emphasize the critical need to improve science education and literacy for future generations. Teachers, for example, universally agree (99 percent) that more hands-on experiential learning in general would benefit student learning.
In response, Bayer is announcing a five-year commitment to provide 1 million hands-on science learning experiences for children by 2020, timed to the 20th anniversary of the Making Science Make Sense® program, Bayer’s company-wide initiative that advances science literacy across the United States.
“As a science-based company, we recognize our responsibility to help improve science education so that individuals can fully engage and participate in a science and technology-driven age,” said Philip Blake, president, Bayer Corporation. “In addition to experiential learning, it’s essential that students have strong mentors and role models to look up to and keep them engaged. We hope to inspire the next generation of innovators by affording children the opportunity to experience hands-on science learning and identify strong mentorships.”
To kick off the five-year commitment and celebrate mentors who have helped foster curiosity around science, Bayer is launching the “Thank You” (“Tk U”) campaign. From today through Oct. 30, Bayer is encouraging people of all ages to share a “thank you” message at SayTkU.com or via social with #SayTKU, acknowledging someone who has inspired scientific imagination and helped to make science make sense in their lives. This can be a teacher who had a knack for making science lessons exciting, an encouraging parent who nailed the role of science project helper or a professional who inspired a scientific career path. For each “thank you” message shared, Bayer will provide free admission to a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) venue for a child (up to 25,000) through a new partnership with Tickets for Kids® Charities.
“The Bayer survey found that parents want more hands-on homework for their kids and are willing to help them with it,” said Dr. Mae C. Jemison, chief ambassador for Bayer’s Making Science Make Sense initiative since 1995 and the world’s first African-American female astronaut. “And both teachers and parents say more students view science favorably than any other subject. This is great, because here are very important anchor points from which to build science literacy by nurturing the enthusiasm for science children are born with. Teachers, parents, society and corporate citizens have this solid foundation to adequately prepare students for jobs, challenges and opportunities in the future.”
Looking Ahead at Science Education
During the past 20 years, the Bayer Facts of Science Education Surveys have polled a variety of audiences – Ph.D. scientists, science teachers, parents, students and business executives – gauging the state of science education in the United States. The 2015 survey included many benchmark questions from the 1995 survey to assess how the state of science education has evolved. Key insights from the 2015 survey note the need to improve science education, including:
Schools today need to place more emphasis on science education.
- Three-fifths (61 percent) of teachers believe schools should place more emphasis on science education.
- Two-fifths (40 percent) of parents do not feel there is a greater emphasis on getting a good science education today, compared to when they were young. In fact, 17 percent feel there is less emphasis today.
It’s essential to shift how science education is taught, and teachers believe that hands-on science learning is, by far, the best way for children to learn about science.
- Nearly all teachers (95 percent) believe hands-on activities are the most effective way for students to learn science, and 79 percent of parents say the same.
- Nearly all teachers (94 percent) agree hands-on learning in general is a valuable strategy for improving standardized test scores and overall performance.
Although parents want to be involved in hands-on science learning with their children, they need access to more resources and support.
- Eighty-five percent of parents enjoy having to help their children with hands-on science-based activities; yet, nearly one-third (31 percent) don’t feel confident enough in their scientific knowledge to help their children engage in hands-on science activities.
- Two-fifths (41 percent) of parents don’t believe their child has an inspiring science role model.
Teachers and parents agree that time and money are the largest barriers to hands-on science activities.
- Eighty-five percent of teachers would dedicate more instructional time to hands-on science-based learning if given the opportunity, but are prevented due to lack of time due to other educational priorities (80 percent) and lack of funds (49 percent).
- The barriers are the same for parents – they say they are prevented from enjoying more hands-on science activities with their child because they don’t have enough time (59 percent) or because it costs too much money (25 percent).
Parents, teachers and the STEM community need to work together to encourage girls’ and minorities’ interest in science.
- Eighty-five percent of teachers say female students are just as interested in science education as their male counterparts.
- Nine-in-10 parents (91 percent) – and even more teachers (95 percent) – agree the science and engineering community, including companies who employ science and engineering workers, should develop programs that attract, encourage and retain girls’ and minority students’ interest in science and math in school.
During the past 20 years, Making Science Make Sense has built a legacy of elevating science literacy across the U.S. One of the program’s most notable accomplishments has been spearheading elementary school science education reform in seven communities by creating new models that fundamentally change how science is taught. Since 1995, Bayer has also helped advance science learning nationwide for tens of thousands of teachers and hundreds of thousands of students through a combination of strategic partnerships and employee volunteerism.
To learn more about Bayer and the Making Science Make Sense initiative, like the Facebook page, or follow on Twitter or Instagram. To share a “thank you” between now and Oct. 30, 2015, visit SayTkU.com. To receive the full list of results from the 2015 Bayer Facts of Science Education survey, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To further shed light on the importance of STEM education, Bayer tonight will be presenting the Bayer STEM “Thank You” Awards during a ceremony at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Award recipients include:
- Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education
- Kaya Henderson, D.C. Public Schools Chancellor
- U.S. House STEM Education Caucus accepted by:
- U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Co-Chair, House STEM Education Caucus
- U.S. Representative Richard Hanna (R-NY), Co-Chair, House STEM Education Caucus
- U.S. Representative Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), Co-Chair, House STEM Education Caucus
- U.S. Representative Donna Edwards (D-MD), Member, House STEM Education Caucus
- U.S. Senate STEM Education and Workforce Caucus
METHODOLOGY: The 2015 Bayer Facts of Science Education Survey presents the findings of a national telephone survey conducted May 11 to June 11, 2015 by SSRS among a representative sample of 1,009 adults with children in grades K-5 and a representative sample of 1,002 of adult teachers who teach in grades K-5. The margin of error associated with samples of this size is ± 3.1% at a 95% level of confidence.
About Bayer Corporation and Making Science Make Sense®
Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the Life Science fields of health care and agriculture. Its products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life. At the same time, the Group aims to create value through innovation, growth and high earning power. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development and to its social and ethical responsibilities as a corporate citizen. In fiscal 2014, the Group employed around 119,000 people and had sales of EUR 42.2 billion. Capital expenditures amounted to EUR 2.5 billion, R&D expenses to EUR 3.6 billion. These figures include those for the high-tech polymers business, which is to be floated on the stock market as Covestro by mid-2016 at the latest. For more information, go to www.bayer.us.
Making Science Make Sense® (MSMS) is Bayer’s company-wide initiative that advances science literacy through hands-on, inquiry-based science education, employee volunteerism and public education. For more information, go to www.MakingScienceMakeSense.com.