Last spring I pointed to student participation in research as a way to improve undergraduate science education and promised to focus subsequently on precollege science education. (THE SCIENTIST, March 23, 1987, p. 9.) One key strategy for improving science education is the revitalization of elementary and secondary school math instruction.

Mathematics is said to be the “queen of the sciences.” Indeed, it is basic to achievement in almost every field of science. But in the court of U.S. elementary and secondary education, mathematics holds a pitiful rank. Franldy, math instruction in U.S. schools is ina terrible state. In a recent Face-to-Face interview, physicist Marvin Goldberger, the new director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, went so far as to call elementary math education “a catastrophe.” (THE SCIENTIST, October 5, 1987, p. 20.)

Lynn Arthur Steen, math professor at St. Olaf College in...

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