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Science and Evolution
According to the National Science Board's 2002 study Science and Engineering Indicators, only one-third of Americans can adequately explain what it means to study something scientifically. As a nation, we are easy prey for those promoting pseudoscientific claims, and the National Science Board survey blames education and the media for this.
Elementary teachers spend significantly less time on science and social studies than on math and literacy activities (Pianta et al 2007). In a study of Science Education in Bay Area Elementary Schools, 22% of K-2 teachers and 10% of 3-5 teachers do not cover science at all and 59% feel under-prepared to teach science.
It is no wonder U.S. public acceptance of evolution is so low compared to other countries (Miller et al. 2006). Clearly one reason evolution is so easily rejected is because people are scientifically ill-informed. Hence, an excellent place to start is educating students about the nature of science, and more specifically, how to differentiate between science and non-science, pseudoscience and even bad science.
Challenges to teaching evolution are often rooted in misunderstandings of what "science" is. Modern science seeks to explain natural phenomena in natural terms. Supernatural explanations fall outside of the boundaries of science. Scientific knowledge requires observations and evidence, but is more than a collection of facts. Observations must be confirmed numerous times by independent observers before they are accepted as scientific facts. Scientific facts serve as the basis for making testable explanations, or hypotheses, about the natural world. Hypotheses are subjected to various kinds of testing and modified as required by the results. They are also modified as required when new observations are obtained.
Evolution has been subjected to scientific testing for over a century, and has been (and continues to be) consistently confirmed by evidence from a wide range of scientific fields.