(September 14, 2007) Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, points out that it takes 15 years to create a scientist or advanced engineer. And since Hispanics are dramatically underrepresented in science-related careers, and the immediate outlook does not show signs of this changing, experts like Dr. Rosalinda Barrera are calling for more focused attention to science in the early years. Young children's natural curiosity is ripe to be used as a basis for learning, understanding and enhancing science concepts. And science discovery can also further language development among English language learners. In a presentation at the Annual IDRA La Semana del Niño Early Childhood Educators Institute, Dr. Barrera, dean of the College of Education at Texas State University in San Marcos, draws a vivid picture of the need for schools to actively integrate science instruction into the earliest grades for second language learners. Send comments to
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Educational Equity Center An early childhood, hands-on science program that creates partnerships between school, home, and community, involving teachers, administrators, care givers, parents and other family members
05:02 Dr. Barrera mentions STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and the importance those fields have today, particularly since the events of September 11, 2001. She notes that her talk will focus on integrating language and content in early bilingual science, including needs, opportunities, and challenges.
06:09 Dr. Barrera reads and discusses a quote from Dr. Tracy Coon: "Science and math are the universal language of technology."
07:00 Dr. Barrera reads and discusses a quote from Dr. Richard Tapia from Rice University: "If we as Hispanics are not in the sciences, engineering, mathematics, we cannot be of technical leadership. And if we're not in leadership, we can't make decisions at the national level that can be favorable to all the people. If we don't change things, that will lead to a permanent underclass for Hispanics."
08:33 Dr. Barrera introduces Thomas Friedman's book, The World is Flat, and talks about Friedman's notion of America's "quiet crisis"– our failure to produce mathematicians and scientists.
10:57 Dr. Barrera lists the 10 things Friedman says are flattening the world, including 9/11, the launch of Netscape, outsourcing, and personal digital devices.
14:05 Dr. Barrera discusses the impact of 9/11 on the graduate science programs around the countries.
15:20 Dr. Barrera says that U.S. universities are dependent on international students to teach the STEM subjects, and that other nations are "catching up" to the United States in these fields.
16:08 Dr. Barrera talks about the low representation of Hispanics in science occupations across the United States, citing research from the Pew Hispanic Center. Hispanics, despite being the largest minority group in the United States (14 percent 15 percent), make up just 4 percent to 5 percent of the U.S. workforce in science fields; in some states, that percentage is as low as 3 percent.
19:20 Dr. Barrera talks about research from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in 1995 and 2003 that show U.S. fourth-graders and eighth-graders losing ground to their age mates in other countries around the world in science achievement.
21:45 Dr. Barrera speaks of the need to reform science and math teaching in higher education: "All of us in education need to work together for that pipeline to send students from pre-K all the way to college completion and advance studies. There's no time or room anymore for looking for who to blame, what part of the pipeline to blame. All of us need to work together. And there's lots of need for reform in undergraduate classrooms, especially at the university level."
22:41 Finally, Dr. Barrera discusses results from standardized science tests for fifth-graders in Texas and the performance gap by Hispanics and Hispanic English language learners that are a reflection of numbers at the national level.
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