It's no secret that there is an issue with education in the United States. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), of the 34 countries assessed for Mathematics, the United States came in dead last (just below Israel and Hungary). The U.S. was below average in all other categories as well, including Reading and Science. According to the findings, "Students in the United States have particular weaknesses in performing mathematics tasks with higher cognitive demand....Just over one-quarter (26%) of 15-year-olds in the United States do not reach the PISA baseline of mathematics proficiency, at which level students begin to demonstrate the skills that will enable them to participate effectively and productively in life."
That's 26%. Over a quarter of American youths that are not able to become informed and productive members of society. Of course, there is some hope. A few of these young people may beat the odds. But things are stacked against them.
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Fortunately, there are a number of individuals who are working to reverse this troubling trend. Nick Seluk is The Awkward Yeti. That may be confusing for many of you not familiar with his work. Of course, he's not really an awkward fabled creature (though that would be awesome). Nick is an artist who regularly creates science themed comics. He's showed us what a solar eclipse is like from the Sun's perspective. He's helped us see how trees really feel about life (and how we really feel about trees). And he's reminded us that, while friendship isn't eternal, plastic waste kind of is.
He's even written a book on why The Sun is Kind of a Big Deal.
Through his work, he encourages people to think about the universe, the environment, and where humanity's place is in the endless sea of the cosmos. In a world when people are increasingly disinterested in the sciences, Nick's work serves to remind us that the natural world is a complex, important, and even humorous part of our existence. However, writing this content takes a lot of time and effort. So if you’d like to offer some support, check out Patreon, where you can fund individual’s work and (in so doing) support the creators that you love.
Ultimately, this is one of the great benefits of technology. The internet and social media give people working on things related to the sciences direct access to the public. And vice versa. The internet allows the public to support the projects that they enjoy. Unlike television and radio, we aren’t just seeing the work of those who can afford advertising. Here, everyone has a voice— and we can support the voices that we’d like to hear more from.
So head over to Nick's page and get to know him a little better.
Here are some other individuals who are working to create a better (more sciencey) world:
- Nick Seluk The Awkward Yeti
- Brian Koberlein: One Universe at a Time
- Fraser Cain: Universe Today
- Destin: Smarter Everyday