Americans are good at a lot of things – business, football, eating, and making muscle cars, to name a few.
Want to know something thing we’re not good at? Science. For all of our money and international prowess, America is ranked just 17th in the world in science education. Not good.
In 2010, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan called America’s mediocre educational rankings “an absolute wake-up call for America.”
“The results are extraordinarily challenging to us and we have to deal with the brutal truth,” Duncan said. “We have to get more serious about investing in education.”
Well, here we are four years later and still not doing much better. The National Science Foundation just released the results of their latest scientific survey, and the findings are embarrassing. Let’s take a look at what some of our fellow countrymen and women think about science.
One in four Americans doesn’t realize the earth revolves around the sun. Let that sink in. It’s been over 400 years since Copernicus proved that all planets revolve around the sun, yet over a quarter of people in the richest nation on earth don’t know it.
21% of respondents answered that the sun revolves around the earth, while 7% were humble enough to admit they didn’t know the answer.
Next up: light.
Despite the best efforts of Queen, Chris Brown, and your science teacher, nearly one in four Americans doesn’t know that light travels faster than sound. It is a basic fact that nothing in the known universe travels faster than the speed of light. Einstein told us this over 100 years ago.
Here are two more head-shaking findings.
63% of respondents thought antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria.
43% said that electrons – tiny, negatively charged particles inside of atoms – were bigger than atoms. 37% were unsure which particles were bigger, and just 20% answered the question correctly.
The survey asked participants nine basic scientific questions. The average score was a 6.5 out of 9 – good for a 72%. America was three points away from getting a D on a test of things we should have learned in 5th grade.
Patrick Bryan Mitchell, 18, was arrested last Friday when officials at South River High School in Edgewater, Md. discovered an unloaded shotgun in the back seat of his car.
Mitchell claims he forgot about the gun, which was from a hunting trip the night before.
South River High School students came to school on Monday wearing camouflage and orange T-shirts which said “#FreeBryan,” reports the Capital Gazette.
Some students hung posters to show their support, but school staff removed them.
According to WUSA 9, the gun was discovered when a school administrator was checking cars for permits and noticed a shotgun shell and part of a gun underneath some clothes in the back seat of Mitchell's car.
The cops were called and Mitchell was arrested after police officers found an unloaded 12-gauge shotgun and shells in his car.
Police also found two Vyvanse pills, which is used to treat ADHD, for which Mitchell did not have a prescription.
The teen was charged with possession of a dangerous weapon on school property and possession of a controlled substance, notes The Baltimore Sun.
Even though school authorities found there was no ill intent, Mitchell may still face expulsion for the gun.
Blogger Elizabeth Esther told "Fox & Friends" this morning that schools should not force children to give every child in their class a Valentine’s Day card to prevent hurt feelings.
Mommyish.com reports that a New Jersey elementary school recently said that children had to bring Valentine's cards for each classmate.
“Valentine’s Day is about expressing your unique heartfelt feelings for your special loved one,” Esther told "Fox & Friends" host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, notes RawStory.com (video below).
“You can’t make life 100 percent fair,” stated Esther. “Why not let them experience a little of that, like, ‘Wow, okay,’ while they’re young and the stakes are low rather when they’re 20 years old and they’re still expecting everyone to give them a Valentines.”
However, Jessica Gottlieb, a parenting expert, said the universal cards help kids from feeling isolated.
Gottlieb recalled that her mother was a teacher and supports the policy.
“Believe me, [kids] experience plenty of rejection day in and day out,” Gottlieb claimed. “There’s absolutely no reason to be excluding them.”
The principal at Coed-y-Brain Primary School in Llanbradach, Wales claims that some students, as young as six, are “initiating games that involve simulating rape and sexual intercourse” because of the video game Grand Theft Auto.
Teachers at the school asked the children, ages 6-11, what they were playing in the school yard, notes the South Wales Evening Post.
The kids reportedly told the teachers that they were doing scenes from the Grand Theft Auto V video game, which has sold more than 32 million copies around the world, but is labeled for users "Over 18."
According to the South Wales Argus, school principal Morian Morgan (pictured) recently sent a letter to parents about the “extremely concerning behavior” of students, which included a "detailed discussion of drug use."
However, none of the children were disciplined.
In his letter, Morgan also claims that children are “acting out scenes from the game which include the strongest of sexual swear words," “having conversations” about sexual acts and “play acting extremely violent games that sometimes result in actual injury."
“Until I went online and checked the content of this game, I thought it was just a bit of swearing and some shooting and I think some of the parents will tell you that they have been equally naive," added Morgan.
“It became more concerning because this newest version (GTA V was released in September last year) seems to be even more shocking than the previous games," wrote Morgan.
Millions of Americans deny global warming exists, but millions do believe that astrology is "scientific," according to a new study.
The National Science Foundation's 2014 Science and Engineering Indicators study says that only 55 percent of Americans in 2012 did not think astrology was scientific.
According to Mother Jones, 31 to 45 percent Americans, depending on their age group, believe that astrology is either "very scientific" or "sort of scientific."
More than half of Americans, ages 18 to 24, are most likely to believe astrology is at least "sort of" scientific, notes UPI.
In comparison, 92 percent of people in China do not believe astrology is scientific.
The highest percentage of Americans who did not believe in astrology was scientific was in 2004, when 66 percent did not believe in it.
Blake Brockington, 17, was named East Mecklenburg High School’s first transgender homecoming king last Friday.
The crowning happened in the school gym in Charlotte, N.C. (video below).
“Throughout my life I haven’t always been treated equally as a male, so I’ve always wanted this and everybody has told me I couldn’t do it," Brockington told WCNC. "Even my peers have said, ‘You are a girl,’ even though I’ve always identified myself as a male."
Brockington lives with a foster family because his biological family recognizes him as a female based on his phenotype.
"I hope this makes everybody know that they can be themselves regardless of what anybody else says," Brockington explained to WBTV. "Even though you go through some things and you have some negative encounters in your life, anything's possible."
Donald Smith, Brockington’s foster father, told WCNC, “He really is hoping that it helps those behind him going through the same challenges and struggles.”
Mark Betterson, a student at East Lee County High School in Lehigh Acres, Fla., recently learned that his school's "zero-tolerance policy" includes defending other students under assault.
Betterson claims that he tried to stop a fellow student James Griffin from attacking a gay student, Jonathan Colon (video below).
According to Betterson, he witnessed Griffin throw milk in Colon's face, use gay slurs and hit the gay student.
"Jonathan was just going to stand there and get beat up," Betterson told Fox 4 Now. "And if I didn't jump into it, it would have gotten serious. I was just trying to break up the whole thing because it's just not fair for somebody to get beat up for something that he is."
Betterson said that after he intervened, Griffin assaulted him and the two ended up in a fight.
However, Griffin insists Colon approached him, said some insults and gave him the finger.
"I don't know what made [Betterson] do this, but it was very rude," Griffin told NBC 2. "He didn't come in like, 'I'm going to save Jonathan.' He came in already with pressure toward me."
Griffin was charged with battery by local police, while Betterson was suspended for 10 days.
Officials at Carondelet High School for Girls in Concord, Calif. are apologizing for celebrating Black History Month by placing watermelon, fried chicken and cornbread on the Catholic school's menu last Friday.
The school's Black Student Union was reportedly the first to raise objections to the controversial lunch menu (video below).
According to NBC Bay Area, Carondelet Principal Nancy Libby explained the situation to students during a school assembly on Wednesday and wrote a letter to parents, which read in part:
I’d like to apologize for the announcement and any hurt this caused students, parents or community members. Please know that at no time at Carondelet do we wish to perpetrate racial stereotypes.
The Associated Press notes that Principal Libby says Carondelet will hold a diversity assembly for students and teachers.
Students are using vapor pens, or "vapes," to secretly smoke marijuana in class at Lakewood High School in Lakewood, Colo.
Vapor pens are supposed to be used for e-cigarettes and can be legally bought for $25.00. By using a vapor pen, there is no "skunk" smell of pot (video below).
Are the teachers aware of this? Students say "no," but the principal says "yes."
“I’ve seen people in my math class and they’ll be sitting there with the teacher and they’ll be smoking it and they won’t even know,” student Jack Maestas told CBS Denver.
However, Lakewood High School principal Ron Castagna says, “Teachers are aware of what to look for. The nervous habit of biting on your pen has a new meaning to it."
Tim Martinez, the school's security supervisor, explained how the vapor pens work: “You can use them for weed, hash oil. Pens that come with capsules with weed in them, melts the plastic and cooks the weed."
Ironically, vapor pens were marketed to help adults stop smoking, but are being used by teens to start smoking pot.
“A kid could use it anywhere, passing between classrooms, in the bathroom quickly,” Phil Boissiere, a San Francisco psychotherapist, told NBC Bay Area.
Boissiere says teens are vaping at school, but also at home in front of their parents as a part of a weird "game."
“Without mom and dad catching on,” added Boissiere. “There are bragging rights, hide where you can, pull it off, who you can do it in front of without getting caught.”
There are even “vape meets” where users show off their vapor pens, which are becoming accessories for teen girls.
“It’s like if you’re pulling out lipstick, you want to look like you match,” stated Candace Garcia, a counselor for students in Santa Clara County. “So with this e-cigarette or vaporizer pen, if it’s hot pink and you have a hot pink purse, it looks cool. So I’ve seen it a lot.”
The Somerset Preparatory Charter Middle School in Miramar, Fla. went into lockdown yesterday after a school official reported witnessing “suspicious items” placed in front of the school by a woman.
Students and faculty were told to walk to the rear of the school, while a bomb squad was called in and several roads were blockaded by police.
“A school official contacted police, and the woman was no longer on the scene when our officers arrived,” Tania Rues, a spokesperson for the Miramar Police Department, told the Sun-Sentinel. "As a precaution, we contacted the Broward sheriff’s bomb squad to investigate.”
The bomb squad did not find an explosive device, but rather a shopping bag that contained some pillows.
Overreactions are becoming more routine across the country as more Americans see common objects as potential bombs.
In November 2013, Austin, Texas police responded to a “suspicious package” call near a Radio Shack, which was not a threat, but police refused to say what the package was, reported Statesman.com.
In October 2013, San Francisco police responded to a call about an unattended backpack near Union Square, which resulted in a bomb squad being called in and traffic lanes closing down, noted USA Today.