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The Best of Our Knowledge

The Best of Our Knowledge # 1067

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wamc/local-wamc-950438.mp3

Albany, NY – THE STATE OF THE UNION, AND THE STATE OF SCIENCE EDUCATION -

President Barack Obama used his State of the Union address to put education front and center on the national agenda. President Obama called for a 5-year spending freeze. But the president said he would spare education and research from that freeze, calling them vital to the nation's long-term growth and competitiveness. Mr. Obama said his budget for the next fiscal year, which was due out in February, calls for more spending on biomedical research, information technology, and clean-energy technology. He proposes paying for these increases by eliminating tax breaks for oil companies.

Almost simultaneous with the president's State of the Union address, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as NAEP, released the nation's report card on science. It was not good. Results showed that most American students are not performing at a level deemed "proficient" in science, with 12th graders posting the weakest scores. Only one in five high school seniors scored at least proficient on the exam. Reaction came swiftly from several sectors.

U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, said when only 1 or 2 percent of children score at the advanced levels on NAEP, the next generation will not be ready to be world-class inventors, doctors, and engineers.

Meanwhile, The National Science Teachers Association reacted this way saying, "This is completely unacceptable. Our nation cannot afford to have a scientifically illiterate workforce even in these challenging economic times it is imperative that we develop and retain high quality science teachers."

Glenn Busby reports. (1:55)

NATIONAL WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH
"ACCESS TO ADVANCEMENT" PROFILE: PATRICIA WALSH -

As we open our month of programs recognizing Women's History Month, we profile Patricia Walsh. Walsh is a full-time program manager at Microsoft. She runs marathons, volunteers for a number of important causes, and has a busy social life. But there was a time during college when things did not go quite so smoothly for her.

Patricia Walsh, at times, struggled with her grades and confidence. That is, until she worked with Dr. John Gardner who is nationally known for making technology accessible to people with visual impairments. Dr. Gardner was a role model and mentor for Patricia and introduced her to the AccessSTEM program at the University of Washington. Walsh credits Dr. Gardner and AccessSTEM with helping her get to where she is today.

Allison Dunne reports. (7:54)

If you would like to hear this story again, or other similar stories in our exclusive radio series, visit www.womeninscience.org and click on "Access to Advancement." You will also be able to request a FREE CD of the entire series. "Access to Advancement" is supported by the National Science Foundation Research in Disabilities Education program.

BLIND SCIENCE -

As we heard in our last story, programs and technology on campuses nationwide are opening doors to blind and visually impaired students. It's providing them opportunities to study in fields of science that years ago may have been considered inaccessible.

Paul Tuthill reports. (3:10)

TBOOK EDUCATION HEADLINES AND UPDATES -

Two weeks ago, we reported on Teach for America on the occasion of its 20th anniversary. Teach for America is the educational organization that places recent college graduates into low-income public schools. Now, TFA has just announced its receiving 100-million dollars to launch its first ever endowment in hopes of making the grass-roots organization a permanent fixture in education Founder, Wendy Kopp, says she hopes that steady stream of revenue will permit TFA to double the number of active corps member teachers, and increase the communities they reach from 39 to 60.

The month of March is always National Women's History Month. This year's theme is Our History Is Our Strength. The theme pays tribute to the millions of women who have taken action to help create a better world for the times in which they lived, as well as for future generations. It's a program of the National Women's History Project which this year is encouraging communities and institutions to honor women from their own communities, states, and organizations whose lives and work have served to inspire the strength that comes from knowing the stories of these determined women.

Glenn Busby reports. (1:30)

NATIONAL WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH
PROFILE: DR. HELEN TAUSSIG -

And so it is this month that we bring you as many of these stories as we can. Here's another one as we honor the achievements of women in science and medicine this week.

Dr. Helen Taussig was nearly deaf. Yet she diagnosed heart conditions by "listening with her fingers." And she eventually solved the mystery of the Blue Baby Syndrome. This is her story.

Kate Mulgrew narrates. (1:55)

THE ACADEMIC MINUTE
"THE NANO WORLD" -

This week's episode features Dr. Linda Schadler, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Professor Schadler tells us about her role in a science project that used the big screen to explain a small world we can't see.

The Academic Minute is hosted by Dr. Lynn Pasquerella, a celebrated philosopher and medical ethicist, and President of Mount Holyoke College. (2:30)