Science is underappreciated, new study finds – Technology & Science
Think about how much science was involved in your life today. Was it a lot, or a little?
Your house, your car, your bus, your phone, even your clothes, all involved some scientific innovation, but you likely didn’t think about it.
You’re not alone.
A new global study on the state of science, conducted by 3M and Ipsos, found that only 41 per cent of people believe that science is “somewhat important” in their everyday lives, with seven per cent saying that it’s not important at all.
In Canada, that number jumps up slightly to 46 per cent and five per cent, respectively.
“In many cases, science is invisible to people: it’s embedded in their phones or in their computers, or in the materials in their homes, but it’s relatively invisible,” Randy Frank, executive director of research and development at 3M Canada, told CBC News. “You don’t always connect the dots of where it’s used and why it’s important.”
One of the more worrisome findings, Frank said, is that only 59 per cent of Canadians say they trust science and only 64 per cent say they trust scientists. In addition, 22 per cent of respondents say that they somewhat agree with the statement, “I am skeptical about science.”
And according to this study, 72 per cent of Canadians feel they know “a little” about science. Only 18 per cent say they know a lot. That’s similar to an Ontario Science Centre poll last year, in which 63 per cent of those surveyed said they know about science.
But when it comes to the more general question of whether or not science benefits society overall, 67 per cent of the respondents in the 3M-Ipsos poll say it’s very important.
“Science impacts every aspect of our lives,” Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan told CBC News. “There’s the connection between the science, the environment, the air we breathe, the food we eat, the weather we wake up to. It’s all science.”
Frank would like to see a future where there is not only a better understanding of the role science plays in our everyday lives, but also increased trust in the profession. And that, he says, starts early on.
“Science is a solution to many of our societal issues and we need great kids pursuing science careers to help solve those issues, he said.
And that’s what he found encouraging about the poll: 54 per cent of parents completely agree that they want their children to know more about science, with 38 per cent saying they agreed somewhat.
“All children are born curious,” Duncan said. “They want to discover; they want to explore … and I really believe it’s our job to foster that excitement through elementary school, through high school, and beyond.”
But, Frank said, it’s important that science is presented in a fun and accessible way.
“In many cases, science is taught in the conventional way … and when science is taught in the conventional way, it’s not intriguing, not fascinating. So we need to rethink how we teach science,” he said.
“To me, what you want is not a parent pushing their child into science; you want a child pursuing science because of a love and interest in it. To me, that’s really where the beginning of the solution lies.”