How do we create a scientifically literate society? The best way may be to make science centers available to the community. According to a survey by John Falk and Mark Needham from Oregon State University, people learned more science and gained a greater overall interest in science from museums than from any other source, including school.
The researchers used data from the California Science Center located in Los Angeles for their analysis. They conducted two random telephone surveys, one in 2000 and the second in 2009, each questioning about a thousand adults in five racially and socio-economically diverse neighborhoods. They found that more than half of Angelinos had visited the museum, and that that number did not vary in different communities. People from all races, ages, income levels and zip codes were coming to the science center. In fact, more than a quarter of the museum visitors were Hispanic, and they expressed some of the strongest praise for the institution.
Okay, so people definitely like to go to museums. But did the California Science Center actually teach them anything? Again, the answer is a resounding yes. When surveyed about specific science facts, those who had visited the museum were among the most knowledgeable in the area. Parents affirmed that a visit to the museum significantly increased their kids’ interest in science.
I don’t know about you, but I plan to include a couple of science centers into my summer travel plans.