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State adviser says schools must turn kids on to science

Unless something is done to interest more people in science and technology at an early age, Utahns always will be struggling with serious questions such as nuclear waste storage, according to state science adviser Suzanne Winters.

She said by having more people interested in science and technology there wouldn't be such emotion attached to some of the problems facing the state, and more thought processes would be involved.Speaking to members of the Pioneer Partnership in the Alta Club, Winters said Gov. Mike Leavitt realizes that many of Utah's future jobs are in the science and technology field, but the lack of money and sound policymaking get in the way of pushing science and technology in school.

She said the governor's office has adopted Franklin Elementary School, a school in a depressed area and when she went to talk about science the children were very receptive. Winters also described going to Rowland Hall-St. Mark's School, a private school, and talking about science and technology.

Students in both schools are eager to learn, she found. Asked why more students aren't interested in science, Winters said science classes too often rely on memorization and downplay hands-on experience that gives a person a chance to analyze.

Also, some teachers aren't qualified to teach science, and a teacher in that situation often is intimidated by the subject. The result is too much reliance on textbooks and not hands-on experience, she said.

In her job, Winters is involved in a variety of science-related concerns including the storage of hazardous waste, the incineration of chemical weapons and earthquake safety. She outlined the current controversy over storing nuclear waste on the Goshute Indian Reservation and incineration of chemical weapons at Tooele Army Depot.