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Scientific Literacy Results from prior Torrey Times Survey By Shawn Baldwin, Aidan Kennedy, Ivan Orrego An analysis of the scientific literacy survey that was in the Torrey Times a couple of weeks ago has been completed. Answers from our Science and Society’s class and the voluntary participation of 113 people from the Torrey Times show interesting results. From the findings in our survey, the answer with the highest percentage of incorrect responses was the question about the big bang theory (question 6). 46% of our class missed this question. One of the most unique findings for our class were the genetics and evolution questions, where 4 out of 10 class mates missed the questions about which parent determines the sex of the baby and humans developing from other species (question 10). But interestingly, every single student understood that DNA was the basis of genetics (question 18). This shows they know the most basic, essential part of genetics about DNA, but they do not know the specifics. Upon comparing our class numbers regarding genetics, with the Torrey Times survey takers, it was seen that the Torrey Times survey takers did not understand the specifics of genetics either. This was shown when 44% of the participants did not know how many pairs of chromosomes a human has (question 17) and also when 35% missed the question about which parent determines the sex of the baby. The questions that most Torrey Times participants understood and answered correctly were about the Earth’s center (question 1), continents and Pangaea, and the difference between gravity on the Earth and Moon (question 13). The biggest different between our class and the online participants was also in a genetics question, where there was a 37% difference between the answers from the students and the online survey takers in how many chromosomes the human body has (question 17). Only 7% of our class missed that question while 44% of the online participants missed it. After averaging all of the results together for our class and the online participants separately, a unique discovery was found. On average, 2 out of every 10 class mates missed a given question, while similarly, 2 out of 10 online participants missed the same number of questions. These results were not surprising because overall our class and the Torrey Times online participants are seemingly fairly “scientifically literate.” It is obvious that there needs to be more focus on genetics, but the population of participants who took this survey definitely knew more science than the general public surveyed by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as is shown below. Data from the General Public Survey from NSF 1. The center of the earth is very hot


The majority of respondents from all countries except China correctly identified the first statement about earth’s core temperature. 2. Lasers work by focusing sound waves Less than 50% of respondents from all countries correctly identified the second statement about lasers as false. 3. All radioactivity is man-made Only respondents from the United States, the European Union, and Japan scored higher than 50% in correctly identifying question three regarding radiation as false. 4. Electrons are smaller than atoms Less than 50% of respondents from all countries correctly identified the second statement about electrons as true. 5. Antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria The United States was the only country to score higher than 50% incorrectly identifying that antibiotics do not kill viruses.


Percent of Respondents Answering Incorrectly Scientific Literacy Questions 1. 2.

3. 4. 5.

6.

7.

8.

9. 10.

11.

12.

13.

14. 15.

16. 17.

18.

19. 20.

The center of the earth is very hot Lasers work by focusing sound waves All radioactivity is man-made Electrons are smaller than atoms Antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria The universe began with a huge explosion Continents move and will continues to do so Human being developed from an earlier species of animal The sun travels around the earth It is the father’s gene that decides if the baby is a boy or girl The human body is made mostly of water The earth formed about 50,000 years ago Gravity on the earth and the moon are the same The closest star to the earth is the sun Stem cells can be used to produce new organs Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas Humans have 28 pairs of chromosomes DNA is the basis of human and animal genetics Computer chips are made of aluminum Heat flows from cold objects to hotter surroundings

Science & Society Class (13 students) 7%

Torrey Times Survey Takers (133) 5%

Correct Answers

7%

26%

False

30%

11%

False

15%

20%

True

15%

23%

False

46%

23%

True

15%

4%

True

30%

23%

True

15%

8%

False

38%

35%

True

7%

2%

True

23%

11%

False

7%

5%

False

7%

23%

True

15%

24%

True

15%

16%

True

7%

44%

False

0%

7%

True

23%

32%

False

38%

23%

False

True

Scientific Literacy Results  

Scientific Literacy Results from prior Torrey Times Survey in Science and Society class

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