The science lovers behind the YouTube series "MinutePhysics" have published an open letter to President Obama. The letter appeals to the president to spearhead science education reform in the U.S.
In particular, the letter -- delivered in the form of a cute yet compelling video on YouTube -- emphasizes the need to address the gap in physics education in American public schools.
"High school physics students across most of America are not required to learn about pretty much any physical phenomena discovered or explained more recently than 1865," the video claims. "Yes, 1865. That’s the year the Civil War ended and well over a decade before Albert Einstein was even born."
Photons, the structure of atoms, lasers, the chaos theory and the Big Bang are cited as just a few of the "useful and important ideas in the last 150 years that aren't a required part of most standard U.S. high school physics courses."
Buzzfeed's Matt Saccaro writes that the video reminds us just how "awful" the science education in the U.S. is.
Quashing the notion that modern physics is too difficult for the average student to grasp, the video goes on to encourage the president to take a feather out of the caps of Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman and Neil deGrasse Tyson -- scientists “committed 100% to the dissemination of the awesomeness of the universe” -- and to revive the love of physics learning in our classrooms.
As Maria Popova of Brain Pickings notes, the letter may come at a much-needed juncture. Citing the 2012 state science standards grades released in a report by the Fordham Institute earlier this year, Popova argues that the dismal data is enough to make one "sigh in desperation."
Popova points out, however, that "even if modern physics were required in high school, the question of how much that would actually promote an understanding of physics is a different matter."
This is not the first time since the president's reelection that science buffs have written to Obama with a plea.
In an open letter published last week, the editors and writers of PopSci urged President Obama: "You can fund basic science research and exploration, on this planet and on others." The letter continues
You should not let the rantings of a vocal minority dictate the terms of our conversation on medical research, climate change and science education. Mr. President, you can be the president of the future we all seek, if you are as bold in your actions as you are in your words.
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