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Science Illiteracy Roundup

January 28, 2011

A new study reflects an alarming lack of science literacy among U.S. college students.


Science illiteracy. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Trees are made mostly from carbon dioxide gas their leaves take in from the air. Energy from sunlight helps the plant turn the CO2 into durable cellulose and other materials that make up wood, bark and leaves. This is a basic fact of biology, but a new study from Michigan State University found that most college students don’t know it. They mistakenly believe that trees take in most of their mass through their roots—a misconception they share with children. They conclude that high schools must do a better job at teaching basic science concepts if our college students are to be competitive.

In other news, researchers at Newcastle University in the UK say sewage treatment centers should stop wasting waste. They found that household sewage could generate enough electricity to run the treatment center and add precious kilowatts to the grid. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.