Every month, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN—the longest-running magazine in the U.S. and an authoritative voice in science, technology and innovation—provides insight into scientific topics that affect our daily lives and capture our imagination, establishing the vital bridge between science and public policy.
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• EDUCATION POLICY
Scientists, teachers, policy makers and 26 states have created ambitious new science standards that all 50 states and the District of Columbia should adopt. The Next Generation Science Standards put new emphasis on engineering and the process of science, while addressing the teaching of evolution and climate change. Such standards of teaching can help the U.S. regain its economic competitiveness in fields where it has recently started to lag. See: Science Agenda: Can the U.S. get an “A” in Science?
• BETTER TEACHERS
To improve math and science education in the U.S., we need to focus more on the next generation of science teachers. New research shows that students score higher on math and science tests when their teachers have a degree in these subjects. Today only a small portion of math and science teachers have degrees in the subjects they teach. Recruiting and retaining highly skilled teachers is crucial in maintaining the U.S.’s competitive edge in science, technology and engineering. See: Education: Building a Better Science Teacher
Every year, roughly 350,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized with hip fractures, which accumulate annual costs of about $17 billion in medical care. Osteoporosis screening is flawed, but new screening methods will help doctors better diagnose this condition. One such method is an online risk calculator called FRAX, which computes 10-year probabilities of fractures based on many risk factors including age, gender, weight, history of fractures and bone density. See: The Science of Health: Cracks in the Bone Test
• KIDS AND DRUGS
Congress has passed several laws to encourage pharmaceutical companies to provide information for pediatric prescriptions, but few medications have been proved safe for children. Drugmakers resist testing medications on children because it is risky, difficult and expensive. As a result, doctors prescribe drugs to young patients without adequate data, thus putting them at risk for overdose, side effects and long-term health problems. Although newer laws are helping protect kids, better systems are needed to study and treat young patients. See: Advances: Not Just Small Adults
• PARTICLE PHYSICS
News: Physicists at CERN, Europe’s high-energy physics laboratory near Geneva, have announced that they have seen strong evidence of the Higgs boson—a key part of the mechanism that gives all particles their masses. Researchers must now pin down the detailed behavior of the new particle. See: http://bit.ly/M3XlwY