More Dismaying News About Science and Kids

More about the terrible state of science (and engineering) among America's children:

Only one or two students out of every 100 displayed the level of mastery that the federal panel governing the tests defines as advanced, the government said.
“I was rather dismayed at the relatively lackluster performance at the top of the achievement levels,” said Alan Friedman, a former chief executive of the New York Hall of Science who sits on the board that oversees the federal tests.
Details here.

So, how did I get interested in science and make it my life's work?

The first part was fate. The day after the Ruskin Heights tornado my mom drove me through the damage and I was fascinated by what nature brought.
View of debris from Ruskin Heights tornado. Circled is 109th street.
This is the exact view I had as we drove down 109th.
Recently released photo from "Life" magazine archives.
But, that interest was sustained because kids in the late 50's and 60's could get toys that complemented that interest. For example, my friends and I loved my Alpha 1 Ballistic Missile:

Mix up some baking soda and vinegar, put it into the missile, put it on the launch pad, and pull the string. That baby could really fly!

Of course, any toy company attorney would have a cardiac over this toy today, even though it had a rubber tip that should have prevented any serious injury. My question: If a manufacturer threw in a pair of protective glasses (the only potential problem it could cause), isn't there some way to bring this back? 

Yes, there are various science kits on the market, but they are for kids in their teenage years. I believe we need something that an 8-9 year old can play with, learn something, and have fun with others. That will begin the interest that might turn into a career.


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