Posted by: COSI | November 5, 2008

Does Our Society Value Science?

I was a young child when Russia’s Sputnik was the first satellite launched into space and I remember the collective blow the United States felt to our confidence as a nation. I would suggest that confidence had been built through our incomparable scale up of abilities and capacity during the course of our engagement in WWII. Science and technology were key tools in the United States’ ability to help win the war—think the development of RADAR, for example. We responded to the “space race” challenge with national leadership and new programs focused on science and math. Another response was a new public learning resource — science centers emerged as new engaging places to connect with science and the incredible space race and inspire a generation of new scientists, engineers, and technicians.

Today, there is a crisis in confidence again – the high technology, information and innovation driven economy that we need to get our nation back on track requires a skilled workforce. We’ve just completed an historic election where the economy, environment, and energy were all key elements of concern and attention.

Meanwhile, studies indicate that U.S. students continue to fall to the bottom of the international pile in math and science competency by the time they graduate high school. We are going to need every resource and every new way of thinking to help bridge this gap between a strong, healthy and secure society and the necessary foundation of a scientifically literate citizenry to support the jobs and decision making needed.

Science centers have an even greater role to play at this time as they have matured to their current role as engaging institutions with unique abilities to connect the public, from young children through teens through adults, with the science and innovation capacity that America is counting on. cosi-kidspace-animalshow-0481

That’s why I’m thrilled that the Toledo, Ohio voters understood the return on investment in passing the levy to help support the reopening and sustainability of their science center. Science Centers derive a high proportion of their funding from earned revenue, but national averages range from 25 percent to 35 percent of museum income still comes from public sources. Like libraries, science centers provide important—and I would say at this time in our history, critical—resources to help inspire, connect, and encourage the next generation that will fill the “green collar” jobs, drive the innovation in new environmental and energy strategies, and make informed decisions as citizens.

There has been much written in the Toledo papers about the new partnerships and support that the bond levy passing is now leveraging—I’ll let you read some for yourself. And while COSI Toledo is no longer affiliated with COSI—and indeed will be reopening with a fresh name as the COSI name reverts to its single, Columbus, identity—we welcome the Toledo science center back into the alliance of science centers around Ohio who are working hard to help make a difference in our state’s and nation’s future.

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Responses

  1. Here’s to hoping that the Change movement isn’t simply an office-taking gimmick, but a watershed moment in our lives when Science and the Arts return to the forefront of thought, education and funding.


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