To the Editor:
In her Commentary “Closing the Science Gap by Hand” (Feb. 6, 2008), Anne Spence undermines her intuitively appealing case by omitting the results of the annual Intel Science Talent Search, which judges individual student research. Six finalists from what was originally called the Westinghouse Science Talent Search when it began in 1942 have gone on to win Nobel Prizes in physics and chemistry. This record calls into question her argument that students need hands-on instruction in order to maximize learning.
Ms. Spence then cites the potential threat from students in India and China to try to justify her position. But neither country has ever taken part in any test of international competition that measures science and math. As a result, there is no way of knowing how well students from these two countries are being taught in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the STEM subjects. They may be receiving stellar instruction, but until the evidence is available, it is impossible to know.
Los Angeles, Calif.
A version of this article appeared in the February 20, 2008 edition of Education Week as Science in India and China: How to Compare Teaching?