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Elementary teachers overwhelmingly support hand-son approaches to teaching as advocated in proposed national standards for science education, but most do not feel qualified to teach science, a new survey has found.

Parents, too, fear they have little ability to engage their children's interestin science, the report, "The Bayer Facts of Science Education," says.

The Bayer Corporation, the Pittsburgh-based arm of the German pharmaceutical company, released the survey results at a Washington news conference last week. Research Communications Ltd. of Dedham, Mass., questioned 1,000 parents and an equal number of elementary school teachers in conducting the survey.

Although nearly 70 percent of the teachers surveyed said they believe schools should increase their emphasis on science education, and 80 percent support hands-on teaching, only 36 percent consider themselves "science literate."

"No wonder 50 percent of all children get turned off science by 3rd grade," said Richard L. White, Bayer's executive vice president. "Unless we reach out to these kids now, while they are ripe for reaching out to, then we may never get them back."

The results mirror a similar survey of teacher attitudes toward standards-based science and mathematics reform released last month at the National Science Teachers Association's annual meeting in Philadelphia. (See Education Week, 4/5/95.)

That survey, conducted by Horizon Research Inc. of Chapel Hill, N.C., found that elementary schools are comparatively open to reform when compared to high schools. Most high school teachers, the survey found, are by and large convinced that they do an adequate job teaching science and math.

The newer survey found that 96 percent of parents said they would like to help their children more with science education in the home. Only 32 percent, however, consider themselves "science literate," compared with 36 percent of teachers.

"Given that nearly every one of the parents wants to help their kids learn science in the home, then we must begin to show them how," Mr. White said.

To help parents, Bayer is making available to them copies of its "Making Science Make Sense Parent's Survival Kit," which includes information from the U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation.

Free copies of the kit may be ordered from the Bayer Corporation, One Mellon Center, 500 Grant St., Pittsburgh, Pa. 15219-2507.

--Peter West

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