Wed, Oct 11, 2006 - Page 15 News List

Museums' mission: to educate the public 博物館使命:教育大眾

Two girls look at an exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
兩名小女孩參觀紐約市美國自然歷史博物館的展覽。 (照片:法新社)

PHOTO: AFP

The American Museum of Natural History recently did a survey to find out how much people know about water. Turns out, not much.

Fewer than half of those surveyed answered correctly when asked how much of the planet is covered in water (about three-fourths). Hardly anyone knew how much of that water is drinkable (about 1 percent).

It's not the first time a survey has shown how little the American public knows about science; the results of a 1994 museum survey were so bad, museum President Ellen Futter barely raises an eyebrow anymore.

“I haven't been surprised ... since our first survey, when I saw that 35 percent of the adult population thought that humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs,” she said.

But the survey, which will lead to an exhibit on water next year, is a reminder of an important part of the museum's mission: educating the public.

The museum has scientists on staff who are leading researchers in water conservation science, said Eleanor Sterling, director of the museum's center for biodiversity and conservation. The museum has also reached out to schools, to give research help to students and training opportunities to teachers.

It is what the museum needs to do at a time when science education in schools is lacking, said Futter.

“There is no area of education that is probably worse taught than science,” she said.

Jeff Rudolph, president of the California Science Center in Los Angeles, said he thinks many institutions are getting better at educating the public.

“Our role in education is significantly expanding, particularly within science institutions,” he said. (AP)

美國自然歷史博物館最近進行一項調查,想知道一般人對水了解多少。結果是︰不多。

被問及地球表面由多少水覆蓋時,只有不到一半的受訪者答對(四分之三)。幾乎無人知道有多少水可以飲用(約1%)。

Today's Words 今天單字

1. hardly adv.

幾乎不 (ji1 hu1 bu4)

例: I felt so guilty I could hardly look my mother in the eye.

(我感到如此罪惡,幾乎不敢看母親的眼睛。)

2. mission n.

任務 (ren4 wu4) ,使命 (shi3 ming4)

例: A company's mission is to keep its customers happy.

(公司的任務就是讓顧客高興。)

3. lacking adj.

不足的 (bu4 zu2 de5) ,缺乏的 (que1 fa2 de5)

例: There were plenty of sweet things to eat, but regular foods were lacking.

(有好多甜食可以吃,但缺少正餐食物。)

4. role n.

角色 (jiao3 se4)

例: Many scientists think pollution has a role in global warming.

(許多科學家認為,環境污染在全球暖化中扮演一角。)


這不是民調第一次顯示出美國大眾對科學的無知,一九九四年博物館民調的結果也慘不忍賭。館長艾倫.富特已司空見慣。

「我並不訝異‥‥‥因為第一次民調顯示居然有35% 的成年人認為人類與恐龍活在相同時期。」

不過這項為籌辦明年水展覽的民調,提醒了人們博物館的重要使命之一︰教育大眾。

博物館的生物多樣性暨保育中心的主任艾蓮諾.史特林說,博物館駐有科學家,是水資源保育科學的頂尖研究員。博物館也拓展至學校,給學生研究方面的幫助,並提供教師受訓機會。

富特表示,在學校科學教育不足的年代,這就是博物館要做的事。

她說︰「大概沒有比科學教得更糟的科目。」

洛杉磯加州科學中心所長傑夫.魯道夫表示,他認為許多機構在教育大眾方面漸入佳境。他說︰「我們的教育角色明顯拓展,尤其在許多科學機構中。」

(美聯社/翻譯︰賴美君)

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