Science Literacy Olympics

  by  |  August 9th, 2008  |  Published in All, Blog


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In celebration of the Olympic games in Beijing, China, we’re posting a video blog by Brad Kloza, who represented ScienCentral News at a conference on public scientific literacy in Shanghai. And don’t miss the “Science Literacy Olympics” beneath the video!

[If you cannot see the You Tube video below, you can click here for a high quality mp4 video.]

Produced by Brad Kloza and Edited by Charles Young
Copyright © ScienCentral, Inc., with additional footage courtesy Ministry of Science and Technology of China.

Science Literacy Olympics

In its “Science and Engineering Indicators” reports, the National Science Foundation gives a snapshot of scientific literacy in various countries by showing the percentage of people in each country who gave correct answers to specific science literacy questions. In the spirit of the Olympic games, below are the most recent figures available. Thanks to Caroline Parnass for compiling the data.

Question: Lasers work by focusing sound waves. (False)
U.S.: 45% (Silver) China: 16%
European Union: 47% (Gold) India: NA
South Korea: 31% (Bronze) Japan: 28%
Russia: 24% Malaysia: 19%

Question: It is the father’s gene which decides whether the baby is a boy or a girl. (True)
U.S.: 65% (G) China: 39%
European Union: 64% (S) India: 38%
South Korea: 59% (B) Japan: 25%
Russia: 22% Malaysia: 38%

Question: All radioactivity is man-made. (False)
U.S.: 76% (G) China: 46%
European Union: 59% (S) India: NA
South Korea: 48% Japan: 56% (B)
Russia: 35% Malaysia: 13%

Question: The center of the Earth is very hot. (True)
U.S.: 80% (B) China: 39%
European Union: 86% (S) India: 57%
South Korea: 87% (G) Japan: 77%
Russia: NA Malaysia: 58%

Question: The universe began with a huge explosion. (True)
U.S.: 33% China: 17%
European Union: NA India: 34%
South Korea: 67% (G) Japan: 63% (S)
Russia: 35% (B) Malaysia: NA

Question: Antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria. (False)
U.S.: 51% (G) China: 17%
European Union: 46% (S) India: 39% (B)
South Korea: 30% Japan: 23%
Russia: 18% Malaysia: 16%

Question: Electrons are smaller than atoms. (True)
U.S.: 48% (G) China: 24%
European Union: 46% (S) India: 30%
South Korea: 46% (S) Japan: 30%
Russia: 44% (B) Malaysia: 26%

Question: Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth? (Earth around Sun)
U.S.: 75% (S) China: NA
European Union: 66% India: 70% (B)
South Korea: 86% (G) Japan: NA
Russia: NA Malaysia: 71%

Question: Human beings are developed from earlier species of animals. (True)
U.S.: 53% China: 70% (S)
European Union: 70% (S) India: 56%
South Korea: 64% (B) Japan: 78% (G)
Russia: 44% Malaysia: NA

Question: The continents have been moving their location for millions of years and will continue to move. (True)
U.S.: 79% (B) China: 45%
European Union: 87% (G) India: 32%
South Korea: 87% (G) Japan: 83% (S)
Russia: 40% Malaysia: 45%
Leaderboard
U.S.: 4 Gold, 2 Silver, 2 Bronze 8 total
European Union: 2 Gold, 6 Silver 8 total
South Korea: 4 Gold, 1 Silver, 3 Bronze 8 total
Japan: 1 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze 4 total
Russia: 2 Bronze 2 total
India: 2 Bronze 2 total
China: 1 Silver 1 total
Malaysia: none 0 total

All data taken from the NSF Science and Engineering Indicators 2008 report, however data for individual countries varied as follows: U.S. – 2006; China and Japan – 2001; European Union – 2005; India, South Korea and Malaysia – 2004; Russia – 2003.

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