Earlier this week, international standardized test scores, from the Program for International Student Assessment, placed America squarely in the middle (#19) of 33 participating nations. Shanghai topped all categories, while Mexico brought up the rear. Though the United States advanced 6 slots from its last assesment in 2006, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says, “We have to see this as a wake-up call.”
So what better way to sound the educational alarm than have the Commander in Chief do it himself on basic cable's favorite pop science program? For the uninitiated, Mythbusters is hosted by 2 goateed special effects artists who for the past 8 years, have tested the important questions, like, "can a falling penny kill you?" and "what would really happen if you put a bull in a china shop" and as the President puts it, they "blow things up, which is always cool." The hosts, Adam and Jamie bring the Jackass ethos to the scientific method. Still, there is a vestige of science, where Newton's laws of physics will at least appear on a whiteboard in one shot.
The episode (clip below) will start with the Mythbusters in the oval office receiving an executive order to bust an age-old-myth: could Archimedes' really have used an array of bronze shields or mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight to incinerate approaching ships during the Siege of Syracuse?
The hosts have tested this before, but the Presidential challenge calls for a reconstruction that will bring together 500 schoolchildren from the Bay Area in a parabolic line, standing shoulder to shoulder for nearly a mile.
Over half a century ago American students were the leader in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The impetus for increased investment in STEM education learning came from a blinking Soviet satellite flying over our heads. Will Obama's Discovery challenge be the new Sputnik?
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