University departments of chemistry and physics are suffering because of declining numbers of students. So what should they do to attract more bright young minds? One answer, says Alan McClelland, NSF deputy director of the science and engineering education division, is emphasizing the potential financial payoffs of a degree in chemistry or physics. At the Council of Scientific Society Presidents' recent annual meeting, McClelland argued that the fields of biology and computer science have continued to attract students because young people can easily see how their study will lead to exciting and lucrative futures in biotechnology and computers. But chemistry and physics, as they are taught now, fail to make that link with the real world. McClelland's recommendation? Include polymer chemistry--the mainstay of industrial chemistry--in the teaching of chemistry.~~ And add electronics, an indisputably hot area, to the physics curriculum. "We have taught physics and chemistry in this purist way...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?