Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 149–155 | Cite as

The science literacy gap: A Karplus lecture

  • David Goodstein


The great American experiment in mass higher education has failed completely in the sciences, where we have a small educated elite and an illiterate general public. Our graduate education in science is the best in the world, and contrary to the belief of some, we do not face a future shortage of scientists. However, the rest of our educational system is bad enough to constitute a threat to the ideal of Jeffersonian democracy. “The Mechanical Universe,” a video series produced by Caltech and aimed at high school physics teachers, is described. Although that project has been very successful, much more must be done. The educational infrastructure must be strengthened to the point where science can be taught gradually, throughout the school years and beyond. Furthermore, those of us who are professional teachers of science must become better teachers, both by increasing our own mastery of our subjects and by better understanding the difficulties our students have in learning science.

Key words

Science literacy “The Mechanical Universe” Richard Feynman physics education 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Goodstein
    • 1
  1. 1.Office of the ProvostCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadena

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