Consider these statistics:
- In 2006, PISA ranked America 24th in science proficiency and 19th in math proficiency among the 29 OECD nations.
- In 2007, 61% of fourth graders and 68% of eighth graders were below basic aptitude in science by NAEP standards.
To stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering and math, the National Science Foundation helped pioneer the idea that research has a broader impact. Outreach develops interest and enthusiasm in science through positive experiences, meeting role models and learning about careers.
Outreach is win-win. Presenters communicate science and represent their field, while having the gratifying experience of participants learning, having fun, and appreciating math and science.
In addition to the "feel good feeling" and provoking interest in science, faculty are in a position to communicate thier research in easy-to-understand language and simple analogies that can easily be transmitted to the media. This, in turn, educates the general populace about new discoveries - an efficient way of contributing to the public conversation about science policy.
Outreach is inherent in Davidson's statement of purpose: "to assist students in developing humane instincts and disciplined and creative minds for lives of leadership and service." Working with science and math outreach, specifically, not only gives the intrinsic feeling of creating a transformative experience in the lives of others, but, by breaking down complex science to those with less background knowledge, it enables the student to come to understand the subject better . In addition, transferrable skills such as public speaking are gained, while learning first-hand that a high-quality education system is crucial for our country's future.