“First Rate People hire first rate people. Second rate people hire third rate people.” -Hermann Weyl

So, here we are, encountering one another on the internet. There’s a really good chance that this is because you have some interest in space, science, astronomy, astrophysics, or some related area. Although I am an astrophysicist with a Ph,D. in theoretical physics, my focus over the past decade or so has been on education and public outreach: science communication.

As we’re exploring more and more of the Universe, education and outreach becomes more vital than ever if our society wants to be informed about what and where the ‘cutting edge’ of science is. Image credit: NASA, HST and JWST science teams.

There’s an incredible Universe out there that we’re exploring, and the more we learn about it, the more effort we need to put into education and outreach if we want a society that’s with us on the cutting edge. That understands where we are and what we’re doing; that creates valuable opportunities for the next generation of scientists to participate and contribute to the enterprise of science.

The results of the latest OECD study spanning 72 countries placed the United States as ‘average’ in science, ranking 25th. Image credit: the latest triannual OECD PISA assessment, 2015.

So why, then, would we be okay with just eliminating NASA’s Office of Education? If we care about America, we won’t be. Read on.

Comments

  1. #1 Art Glick
    West Virginia
    May 25, 2017

    Science facts are the enemy of this administration and their ilk. NASA could have all the “education” money it wanted if it would just teach that the Earth is 5000 years old, and that evolution and climate change are myths.

  2. #2 In Hell's Kitchen (NYC)
    May 25, 2017

    forbes.com has been down and out for some time now…

  3. #3 Denier
    United States
    May 25, 2017

    @Ethan wrote

    …according to the latest results from the OECD, the United States ranks 25th worldwide in science education, well behind Vietnam, China, Japan, Korea, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, among many others.

    Also according to the OECD, the United States spends more per student than any county in the world.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-education-spending-tops-global-list-study-shows/

    We spend more. We get less.

    @Ethan wrote

    …the children, students, teachers, and adults all over the world who benefit from the opportunities and knowledge that the office provides simply aren’t worth it.

    Statements like this are a big part of the problem. It is as if you just returned from the slave market where you went to buy some new servants and were dismayed at how much some of them cost now. Stop trying to hang price tags on human beings.

    We’re talking about purchasing a service and discussing the historical cost effectiveness of what we’ve purchased. From the metrics gathered by the OECD we are being ripped off. How do we get our cost-to-performance ratio more in line with the rest of the world? Either how do we get our students to be #1 without increasing costs? –OR- How do we reduce our costs by 25 places so that our #25 ranking is justified?

  4. #4 Axil
    May 25, 2017

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qbG-p8qKbuFnPOdkm0XgwJpUvzHSvWM84-geOCF38pw/edit#

    Progress in amateur science

    Starting today and continuing for the next few weeks, the Martin Fleischmann Memorial Project (MFMP), an international effort, begins testing of a number of LENR reactors that have been developed by amateur scientists from India, Eastern Europe, and Russia. This effort is crowd funded and staffed by volunteers from around the world. These tests in their entirety are totally open and can be viewed in total and in real time or viewed as archived on the internet.

  5. #5 Elle H.C.
    May 25, 2017

    @Denier

    “Statements like this are a big part of the problem.”

    Isn’t the actual ‘problem’ the national dept that is skyrocketing and becoming astronomical? Banks that were fraudulent and needed to be bailed out!

  6. #6 eric
    May 25, 2017

    We’re talking about purchasing a service and discussing the historical cost effectiveness of what we’ve purchased.

    Governments are not designed or intended to make money, they are designed to spend it on things deemed worthwhile by its citizens.

    The current strategic goals of NASA – i.e., the things you, the taxpayer, are paying it to accomplish – are: “1. Expand the frontiers of knowledge, capability, and opportunity in space.
    2. Advance understanding of Earth and develop technologies to improve the quality of life on our home planet. 3. Serve the American public and accomplish our Mission by effectively managing our people, technical capabilities, and infrastructure.”

    Educating the American public about its exploration feeds directly into 1 and 2. Its very clearly part of their mission.

    How do we get our cost-to-performance ratio more in line with the rest of the world?

    I recommend a very conservative investment strategy, so I’m sure you’ll get behind it, right? Trickle down economics! Give huge tax breaks to teachers and school administrators. That free up their economic and intellectual resources to be invested elsewhere, which will spur educational growth.

  7. #7 Denier
    United States
    May 25, 2017

    @eric wrote:

    Trickle down economics! Give huge tax breaks to teachers

    Giving tax breaks to poor people?!? Ewww. Besides, that isn’t trickle down economics. Secondly, teachers and school administrators are already eligible for MASSIVE tax giveaways far larger than what they pay in taxes. It is called the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program and teachers are using it to wipe out six-figure student loan debts. …at least until Trump kills it which he’s threatened to do.

  8. #8 CFT
    May 26, 2017

    @Ethan,
    “OMG, think of the children!!!!!! How will they learn about science if the government doesn’t tell them to???” Alarmist much? Everyone knows who you voted for, so please, tone down the fake ‘dark ages’ hysteria.
    .
    If it takes a government PR office to get you interested in science, you really aren’t very interested in science. It also isn’t the governments job to tell you what to think about science or what you should or should not be interested in, it never was.

  9. #9 dean
    May 26, 2017

    Giving tax breaks to poor people?!? Ewww. Besides, that isn’t trickle down economics. Secondly, teachers and school administrators are already eligible for MASSIVE tax giveaways far larger than what they pay in taxes. It is called the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program and teachers are using it to wipe out six-figure student loan debts. …

    Yes, helping the poor is not something decent right-wingers think is important.

    deniers hyperbole on the loan forgiveness system aside, there is a simple way to reduce the size of loans: fund education at the rate is used to be, and should be, funded, instead of continually cutting back as the anti-knowledge right have been doing.

  10. #10 Li D
    Australia
    May 28, 2017

    #8
    “If it takes a government PR office to get you interested in science, you really aren’t very interested in science. It also isn’t the governments job to tell you what to think about science or what you should or should not be interested in, it never was.”

    Shit, you mob are screwed if this attitude prevails.
    Children should have a grounding in science, irrespective
    of anything else.
    Or they will end up dumber than dog shit, reading astrology
    as if that were reality, not able to understand the basics of
    any field. Not savvying why water gets hot in a pot on the stove.
    Not able to judge at a very simple level whats wrong with
    some ideas some people spout.

  11. #11 Li D
    Australia
    May 28, 2017

    Just so yas know, in case ya dont, much of the
    world thinks americans are half witted imbeciles.

    Examples like this 3 minute video shown on
    Australian government television dont help.

    https://youtu.be/q566ys0sqVQ

    I know its cherrypicked crap. But i only know it
    is because i know about the concept of cherrypicking.
    The very basics of data need to be taught to all kids.

  12. #12 CFT
    May 29, 2017

    @Li D,
    No one said children should not have a good grounding in science. Ethan was merely kvetching about Trump because he lacks an actual topic to talk about.
    In America we already have way too much government, much of it redundant, and much of it dysfunctional . Education is not really the purpose of the federal government, it should be left to the states, local communities, and parents, not bureaucrats in Washington looking for interesting new ways to waste money.
    I you are waiting for the government to tell you what to think about anything, you’re already a lost cause.
    Just so yas know, I think much of the world are half witted imbeciles. It’s not exactly news, or a quality limited by national borders don’t cha know…some of them even live in Australia.