Broadcast 426 (Special Edition)

15 Dec 2005 Joan Horvath
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Joan Horvath returned to The Space Show to discuss the state of space and science education in the United States. Current trends in science literacy impact aerospace in general and New Space in particular. In Kansas and in Pennsylvania, fights are ongoing in the courts to define whether theories with a basis in faith can be taught in a science classroom; polls show that less than half of adults understand the issues of scientific method at the root of the controversy. Joan explains how the weakening of American science knowledge translates into an inability for investors, regulators, and politicians to distinguish true innovators from well-meaning but unworkable ideas. Does the general public think going to space is easier or harder than it is? This show addresses the need for teaching critical thinking at all levels with concrete suggestions for same. Joan was making the point that students, teachers, and all of us need to know the difference between a provable fact and firm belief, but sometimes, for a variety of reasons, the differences merge and blur. Donna Shirley phoned in with her comments saying we need to reach really young kids to get to them around third grade to start teaching them about science and critical thinking. I shared some of my experiences from both college and other teaching as well as from on The Space Show regarding this subject. Other questions and comments came in regarding beliefs versus provable facts and again, intelligent design. Many listener questions were directed to Ms. Horvath about the alt.space or entrepreneurial business community attempting to develop various space businesses. You will want to hear the various comments and assessments offered on this industry and its participants (no companies named) by Ms. Horvath, though she did talk about her experiences in Oklahoma with the space tourism companies and the spaceport activities. Ms. Horvath provided us with her opinion on the Vision for Space Exploration and our returning to the Moon and on to Mars. She is not that supportive on returning to the Moon and prefers to let the private sector handle the manned space program and that NASA and the public space program should focus on science, robotics, and exploration. You will certainly want to hear her full discussion on this subject. Joan also spoke about the need to partner with other companies and she spoke about her role in consulting with the film industry to make films dealing with science subjects more accurate. At the end of the interview, she was asked if she would take a suborbital space tourism ride and if so, with which company. She would not go for physiological reasons but she did say she felt Scaled and Sir Richard at Virgin were the ones she would choose if she could go. She believes that anyone working with an airline would do a good, safe job in making a safe, successful commercial space tourism vehicle. Visit Ms. Horvath's website at www.takeofftech.com where you will also find an e-mail link for contacting her. In addition, you can send comments or questions to Joan Horvath through me at drspace@thespaceshow.com.

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