Something and somehow. Why do we know the natural sciences so poorly?

Weekly “Argumenty i Fakty” No. 32. Take a check per capita 10/08/2022

This week, lists of applicants who have passed the budget to universities based on the results of the USE should be published. The day before, there were rumors that in  the country's leading universities for some specialties suddenly arose.

Many of this year's graduates submitted their documents in advance, but were frightened by sky-high numbers of competitions and in as a result, the last days before enrollment preferred simpler establishments. Top universities had to reduce the passing score and take on the one who remained in the hope of a miracle. Will    yesterday's school good students, and somewhere       possible will be able to learn from talented designers, competent doctors?

Once we laughed at Zadornov's jokesabout how stupid Americans are. And they didn’t notice how generations themselves grew up, not knowing what revolves around what: the Sun around the Earth or the Earth around the Sun. How can this be in a country that a few decades ago considered itself the most read, was proud of its education and science?

Judging by the results of the Unified State Examination, the situation with the subjects of the natural science cycle is especially alarming. That is, with what is closest to a person: biology, chemistry, geography … Compare: the average score of those who took the exam in English this year was 73.3. A Biology — 50.2, in  chemistry — 54.3, by geography — 54.6. Why is that? Is exam too complicated or are were seamless with training in these disciplines?

Collage AiF

What gives birth to chemophobes

«Chemistry — objectively difficult subject. This is recognized even by SanPiN. To understand chemistry, a child must have a well-developed abstract, figurative thinking. He must quickly calculate, understand physics. Here you can’t memorize, you need to think, & nbsp; & mdash; says editor-in-chief of the magazine “Chemistry at school”, chairman of the All-Russian public organization of teachers and teachers of chemistry, Ph.D. Lyudmila Levina. — But, of course, good teachers are important. Those who had strong teachers, as a rule, understand chemistry at least at the everyday level. But for many years, due to the prestige of the profession, not the best school graduates entered the pedagogical universities, especially in large cities. Now these people themselves teach children in the classes. And what we want from them? This is where the legs of the chemophobia around us grow, for example».

Chemophobia — irrational fear of any chemical compounds. People who suffer from it often get into trouble. That "for the sake of saving nature" they are ditching natural leather and moving to eco, even though the production of leather substitutes does much more harm to the planet. They shy away from antiperspirants because they contain potentially carcinogenic aluminum salts, and switch to  "natural safe deodorant-crystal" — in fact, the same aluminum salts.

    I say in such cases: chemistry is harmful to those who does know  — Levin continues. — You can get poisoned to death by deciding to clean the plumbing, for example. Or become a victim of marketing, running from “Eshek” on labels and overpaying for goods«without terrible chemicals».

But three physicals per week

During the  pandemic, chemophobes have subsided somewhat — retrained, it seems, as specialists in vaccines and immunity. The hottest battles of couch experts for the last year and a half have been unfolding precisely on anti-curve fronts. Viruses, work of organs and systems — in the  school course, biology is responsible for  She handed over the worst. Until now, in social networks, on the page of Rosobrnadzor, complaints from parents and teachers are pouring in that KIMs (unified state exam tasks) went far beyond the limits of the school curriculum. The compilers reflect the attacks, they say, there are different school programs. Someone studies in general education classes, and someone — by  biological profile. And in general, if you want to study at a serious university — be kind, prepare in depth.

Whatever it it was, but the teachers themselves admit: yes, it is not just complexity of the exam. The hours on the subject have been cut so that you have to gallop through the sections. The children understood, did not understand, we write down the next topic. It is strange to wait for the appearance of new Michurins, if in the fifth grade, when acquaintance with science begins, physical education is three lessons a week, English is also three, and biology is one.

Look around

"If we talk about the general literacy of the population, the knowledge of biology we are not very high, — confirms the biologist Pavel Glazkov, the author of the blog “Each creature in a pair”. — But after all, such a situation has developed for a very long time, decades ago».

Pavel is from  enthusiasts: he roams the forests near his native St. Petersburg, observes plants, animals, talks about what he has seen in social networks, conducts lessons in schools at the invitation of parental committees and teachers. His videos are watched by hundreds of thousands of people. So people have an interest in  biology. And here are the basics, the foundation is missing.

“Students do not know the elementary, even the structure of the human body. I am sure that we need to radically change the approach to teaching science subjects in the school. Why do we immediately pour on the fifth graders “the structure of the plant cell”, “the structure of the animal cell”? Boo-boo-boo, at best with pictures from a shabby textbook. Modern children will not be interested in this, — says the biologist.   You need to start your acquaintance with science with applied knowledge: what kind trees we grow, what birds fly to the feeder. What to do if you meet a bear in the forest? Whose footprints are in the snow? What you can feel with your own hands, see with your own eyes. Find interesting, paradoxical facts about wildlife and, starting from it, already further string the rest.

Glazkov emphasizes: it's not only and not so much in unified state exam scores: "Knowledge about nbsp;the nature of the native land — these are the building blocks that awaken in us a feeling of love for the country. This is very serious! Lessons are needed at the school with  exit to the yard: “Look, children, this grass is called so-and-so, that’s how it blooms, and on this instance we see already formed seeds”… Schoolchildren will learn what is our unique Russian forbs, where there are more than 200 different plants. And & nbsp; how barbarously they destroy it, mowing all the grass in & nbsp; cities to zero. And when such a child grows up and becomes the director of a management company, will will he allow to bring meadows and lawns to bald spots?! Meanwhile, knowledge about what surrounds us is generally not given at school. And after the child feels the nature with his own hands, looks at dragonflies on the pond, and not in the textbook, he will see an exciting film about a bird nesting in       that's when you can talk about the structure of the wing, what are feathers. However, an interested child will dig up this information himself, without waiting for the lesson».

Scientific detective story from Pavel Glazkov

Nest of insect larvae, slobbering pennitsa. Photo: Commons.wikimedia.org

Who “spit” on the grass and how does it relate to the elixir of youth?

Many of us saw white frothy lumps on the grass in the summer, as if someone hadn't given a damn about the plants. What is this?

(Answer at the bottom of this page)

Answers questions

In fact, the foam ball — this is the nest of an insect larva, a slobbering penny. Once a year, in the fall, the female pennitsa lays her eggs on the stems of plants, at the base of the leaves. In the spring, larvae emerge from the eggs. They begin to feed on the juice of the plant and secrete a liquid heavily flavored with mucins — substances that give it stickiness and ductility. Through tiny holes on the sides of the abdomen — spiracles — the larva blows portions of air into this mucus. An interesting fact: at present, mucin is used in cosmetology as a means for skin rejuvenation! So the saliva of the penis can claim the title of “elixir of eternal youth”. em>

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1 — greenfinch, 2 — chizh, 3 — chub, 4 — ide, 5 — timothy, 6 — hedgehog team.

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