Enhancing Science Literacy at Oberlin College

The report of the Science Literacy Workgroup
Daniel Styer, Physics, chair
Michael Henle, Mathematics
Richard Levin, Biology
Michael Loose, Neuroscience
Richard Salter, Computer Science
Bruce Simonson, Geology
Sarah Stoll, Chemistry
7 April 1998

An appreciation of what is happening in science today, and of how great a distance lies ahead for exploring, ought to be one of the rewards of a liberal-arts education. It ought to be a good in itself, not something to be acquired on the way to a professional career but part of the cast of thought needed for getting into the kind of century that is now just down the road. Part of the intellectual equipment of an educated person, however his or her time is to be spent, ought to be a feel for the queerness of nature, the inexplicable things.

--- Lewis Thomas



Familiarity with science and mathematics has been a hallmark of all liberally educated men and women since the twelfth century. Recognizing the contemporary importance of this historic tradition, Oberlin College's Long-Range Planning Advisory Committee asserted that "an Oberlin education ensures broad-based science literacy for all students" and recommended that Oberlin "find ways to translate the excitement of science to the entire community, through innovative teaching and related activities, and enhance interdisciplinary links between the sciences and other fields" [14, page 12].

This report, prepared by the ad hoc Science Literacy Workgroup listed above, responds to that recommendation. It begins with a rationale for broad science literacy, which serves to set high goals for Oberlin's program. It then surveys the existing efforts in this direction and asks whether these efforts meet those goals. It concludes with specific, concrete recommendations.

The working group was constituted by the Science Advisory Committee in response to a request from the General Faculty Planning Committee. The deliberations of the working group were informed by data graciously compiled by Ross Peacock, the Director of Institutional Research, and by discussions with Associate Dean Suzanne Gay, Professor Dan Merrill, and with the Science Advisory Committee.

Throughout this report, the term "science" should be interpreted to mean "the natural and mathematical sciences."


The seven medieval liberal arts were grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy. In today's Oberlin curriculum, three of these subjects (arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy) are solidly tied to the division of natural sciences and mathematics. One (logic) is crosslisted between the mathematics and philosophy departments. Thus the sciences have had a long and honorable history as an essential component of a liberal arts education. Even the longest and most honorable tradition, however, deserves occasional investigation to see whether it is still justified. That investigation is the role of this section.

A. Science is intrinsically valuable

Think you that the rounded rock marked with parallel scratches calls up as much poetry in an ignorant mind as in the mind of a geologist, who knows that over this rock a glacier slid a million years ago? The truth is, that those who have never entered upon scientific pursuits know not a tithe of the poetry by which they are surrounded.

--- Herbert Spencer

The simple acts of eating a meal, seeing a star, feeling one's own pulse, noticing structure, listening to a radio, or walking on soil ought to invoke wonder at the phenomena, pride that humankind has uncovered so much, and awe that so much more remains hidden. Anyone whose scientific ignorance disallows such feelings is living a mundane life in a strange and beautiful universe--our home.

A theme running throughout the Long-Range Planning Committee report [14] is encouragement of diversity in all its aspects. On Oberlin's campus, with its strong humanities emphasis, the sciences help to provide a stimulating intellectual diversity.

B. Science affects all human endeavors

It is a fact of modern life that all of us are confronted by decisions . . . that have a significant technological component. . . . It is crucial, in my view, that as many people as possible have enough technical background to be able to separate the purely technical aspects of these decisions from the political and moral ones. No one should be afraid of participating in making such decisions just because some "expert" says that there are technical factors involved that are beyond the layperson's understanding. . . . Ignorance of science and technology is becoming the ultimate self-indulgent luxury.

--- Jeremy Bernstein

Here are some long-running news stories that can be better understood with considerable background in science: AIDS, space weapons, smoking, bacterial contamination of foods (E. coli O157:H7), seismic identification of nuclear bomb tests, the character of aging, the effect of diet on cancer, shoreline erosion and its implication for insurance, global warming, health care technology, internet browsers, cryptographic standards, privacy rights and World Wide Web commerce, fuel-cell powered automobiles, the clean water act. These stories were not selected at random: articles concerning every one of them appeared in the 21 October 1997 issue of the New York Times.

C. Science is a training ground for problem solving

Looking up the answer, or letting someone else find it, actually impoverishes one; it robs one of the pleasure and pride that accompany creativity and deprives one of an experience that, more than anything else in life, bolsters self-confidence.

--- Hans Christian von Baeyer

Some techniques of effective problem solving are:

Distinguish between goals and methods used to achieve those goals.
Evaluate possibilities and choose one of them: do not reject a possibility as "not good enough" in ignorance of whether the other possibilities (such as the status quo) are even worse.
Realize that one must live with facts, no matter how unpleasant or inconvenient they may be.
First answer "what is true?" and only then move on to "why is it true?".
Gather evidence before choosing alternatives.
Probe the analysis for assumptions--particularly implicit and unstated assumptions.
Examine all evidence critically, whether it supports or undermines your preferred alternative.
Test the results against various simple or limiting cases.
These techniques are effective at solving problems in social policy, literary and historical analysis, business, law, and so forth. But they are most effectively taught in the context of science, because the problems of science are more straightforward than the problems of society, and because scientific problems lack some of the emotional and self-interest aspects that can hamper clear problem solving in a social context.

The difference between a thoughtful policy maker and an ideologue is the approach that each brings to bear on problem solving: The former seeks to understand the problem and craft a solution which fits that problem; the latter has a stock of ready-made solutions and attempts to mold the problem to fit his or her favorite solution. The thoughtful approach is the one instilled through science courses, and we can hope that an exposure to science problem solving will encourage students to apply the same effective techniques to problems outside of the scientific domain. Our hopes are supported by the many individuals who attribute their success in finance, law, foreign policy, etc. to their scientific training. Oberlin College has long noted that training in liberal arts generates skills transferable to non-academic environments . . . the same holds for problem-solving skills generated in science courses.

D. Science and scientists are widely misunderstood

Very few see science as the high adventure it really is, the wildest of all explorations ever undertaken by human beings, the chance to catch close views of things never seen before, the shrewdest maneuver for discovering how things work.

--- Lewis Thomas

Public misunderstanding of science is commonplace. Few understand the character, power, and limitations of scientific thought. Even worse, these misunderstandings are polarized: Science is considered to be either the sole source of progress and prosperity or else the sole source of pollution and poverty. It is either a culturally neutral font of certainty or else simply one of many culturally-sanctioned myths for arranging our experiences. It is either a pure collection of facts or else a set of abstract theories that have so powerfully gripped the minds of scientists that they cannot accept facts (such as psychokinesis) which challenge those theories. Scientists themselves are either gods or else demons.

E. Science is fun

If you've never done these things, you should.
These things are fun, and fun is good.

--- Dr. Seuss

We seek to spark in our students a lifelong interest in science that springs, not out of a sense of duty or obligation, but out of pure hedonism.

F. Teaching science to a general audience improves the science faculty

You don't really understand something until you can explain it to the man on the street.

--- Peter J.W. Debye

A largely unrecognized benefit of science courses for a general audience is to the faculty who teach them. Professional-training science courses attract many and various students, but those students are disposed to characteristic scientific discourse: they tend to ask questions of a certain character and to accept explanations of a certain character. General-audience courses attract an even more diverse audience, exposing faculty to a wider range of questions and demanding different sorts of explanations. We, as faculty, find that we usually gain more new insights into our own disciplines through teaching general-audience courses than we do through teaching professional-training courses. Because of this, the general-audience courses can be more fun and more intellectually rewarding to teach. For the same reason, they are more difficult to teach.


We speak glibly of . . . education, but what do we mean by it? If we mean indoctrination, then let us be reminded that it is just as easy to indoctrinate with fallacies as with facts. If we mean to teach the capacity for independent judgement, then I am appalled by the magnitude of the task.

--- Aldo Leopold

What does the justification of the previous section imply for how science literacy ought to be taught?

First, it implies that the intellectual rigor and seriousness characteristic of Oberlin College must extend to our science course offerings for a general audience. We cannot expect the benefits described above to flow to students and faculty through watered-down courses that scrimp on intellectual honesty.

Students who will not become scientists do not need to know the jargon, the algorithms, and the technique that professionals must master, but they do need to know that science is grounded in experience and experiment and is not just a mass of incoherent facts requiring memorization, nor a magical incantation that defies understanding. General-audience course offerings need not treat the same subjects nor use the same approach as professional-training courses, but they must have the same respect for intellectual rigor and coherence. This is why we call them "general-audience courses" rather than "courses for non-science majors": they are not gee-whiz courses, and although they are populated mostly by non-science majors, the occasional science major who takes one finds it both interesting and challenging.

Second, intimate involvement with science is necessary. Courses that cite facts and expect students to accept them "by authority" actually undermine the respect for logic and problem solving established as a goal in this report's "Justification" section. Courses that substitute memorization for understanding are similarly counterproductive. There are books [12, 17] which claim to present "1000 facts that insure you'll be scientifically literate," but science literacy cannot be provided through a list of facts because science consists largely of concepts and interrelations between facts.

This is not to say that facts are unimportant. On the contrary, facts are extraordinarily important. But facts that are merely received into the mind without being used, or verified, or thrown into fresh combinations, are unlikely to be retained or to be available for use when they are needed. Many of the facts of modern science--facts about black holes, genetic engineering, fractals, catalysts, nanotubules, and continental drift--are so unexpected that they make "facts" about astrology, parapsychology, and the channeling of energy flow through crystals seem relatively mundane and believable. It is essential for students to know that the facts of science, unlike the "facts" of pseudoscience, are supported by reason, logic, and experiment.

Third, it is important to realize that developing and teaching rigorous yet non-technical science courses is a delicate and difficult job. Many scientific topics which hold great student interest, such as black holes, simply cannot be treated in an intellectually honest way that is nevertheless accessible to non-professionals. Few teaching materials are available: When Rice University jettisoned their old science literacy courses and developed new ones, its faculty found that many texts "ostensibly intended for non-scientists" offered "little but a litany of declarative knowledge to be memorized until the next test and then forgotten--a technique usually perfected in high school" [13]. For the foreseeable future, faculty teaching rigorous science literacy courses will need to develop on their own much of the course readings and software.

Finally, we comment upon the relation between general-audience and professional-training science courses. The goals listed for general-audience courses are also goals for professional-training courses. But professional-training courses have even more goals: they must teach algorithms, techniques, vocabulary, and facts that the non-professional simply doesn't need. They must also cover many more topics. The goals of general-audience and professional-training courses are related but the emphases differ. It follows that introductory professional-training courses are also vehicles for widening science literacy, and non-science majors who wish to take this route are welcomed into such courses.

Professional-training science courses use powerful intellectual tools--such as the calculus--to cover large amounts of material in a short time. General-audience science courses lack access to these tools so they cover far less material. Yet, the very absence of these tools means that, at their best, general-audience courses can present a more thorough treatment of those few topics that they do cover. In one hour, a jet traveler covers a much greater distance than does a foot traveler. Yet the foot traveler gains a far more intimate and textured knowledge of the limited terrain that is covered. The two sorts of travel are different, but it would be hard to call either one superior to the other.

Existing Efforts

The table below lists the science courses aimed particularly at the general audience of students offered at Oberlin College in 1995-96 or 1996-97. In 1996-97 a total of 1360 students were served by 25 course sections for a mean section size of 54 students. (Two courses, Biology 13 and Computer Science 235, met in two sections--the remaining courses had only one lecture section.)

It is important to realize that this selection of courses is more dynamic than most of the science curriculum, and that courses come and go rather rapidly. A few years ago, the list would have included "The Geology of Natural Hazards," and "The Physics of Athletics." Next year it will include "Calculus: The Mathematics of Change," "The Mathematics of Design," "Dinosaurs, Mass Extinctions, and Other Headlines From the History of Life," "Mind, Brain, and Behavior," and "The Nature of Conscience Mind." But for the most part old courses go out as new ones come in, so the snapshot presented here is typical of any two years.

Science courses intended for a general audience

title hours proficiencies enrollment*
Astronomy 100 Introductory Astronomy 3 127
Biology 13 Sexually Transmitted Diseases 1.5 WR 27
Biology 15 The Architecture of Life 3 WR, QPh [16]
Biology 101 Human Biology 4 47
Biology 115 Field Botany 2 [14]
Chemistry 50 Basic Chemistry 3 QPh 51
Chemistry 145 Chemistry and Crime 3 [54]
Chemistry 151 Chemistry and the Environment 3 WR 41
Chemistry 163 Applied Biochemistry: Cancer 2-3 WR 33
Chemistry 176 Energy Technology 3 [18]
Comp. Sci. 100 The Internet and Beyond 3 93
Comp. Sci. 101 Intro. to Computers and Computing 3 QPh 78
Comp. Sci. 102 Concepts and Applications 3 QPh 68
Comp. Sci. 115 Cryptology 3 QPh [21]
Comp. Sci. 157 Introduction to Graphics 3 QPf [74]
Comp. Sci. 185 The Limits of Computation 3 QPh 14
Comp. Sci. 221 Object-Oriented Programming 3 QPf [25]
Comp. Sci. 235 Computer Application Development 3 QPf 36
Comp. Sci. 299 Mind and Machine 3 19
Comp. Sci. 339 Projects in Computer Development 3 QPf [21]
Geology 111 Glaciology, Ice Ages, and Climate Change 3 QPh 71
Geology 118 Planets, Moons, and Meteorites 3 85
Geology 121 Geology in our National Parks 3 89
Geology 124 Rivers and the Environment 2 [93]
Mathematics 30 Exploring the Realm of Modern Math 3 QPf 27
Mathematics 80 Lies, Damned Lies, and Decisions 3 QPf 35
Mathematics 90 Environmental Mathematics 3 QPh [29]
Mathematics 112 Elementary Statistics 4 QPf 33
Physics 51 Einstein and Relativity 1 136
Physics 52 The Strange World of Quantum Mechanics 1 QPh 123
Physics 54 Musical Acoustics 3 QPh 91
Physics 55 Energy Usage in Buildings 2 17
Physics 60 How the World Works 2 WRi 11
*Most enrollment figures are for 1996-97: courses offered in 1995--96 but not in 1996-97 have enrollments in square brackets.

These courses deal with the issue of "intimate involvement with the material" in a variety of ways. "Introductory Astronomy" has observing sessions. "Energy Usage in Buildings" visits sites. "Planets, Moons, and Meteorites" has occasional laboratory sessions. "Einstein and Relativity" experiments with computer simulations. "Chemistry and Crime" is rich in demonstration experiments. "How the World Works" meets in a laboratory room and often breaks up into small groups to undertake experimental investigations. "Cancer" and "The Strange World of Quantum Mechanics" incorporate current research topics. "Chemistry and the Environment" assigns a field project culminating in a research paper.

It is a common misperception that general-audience science courses are "blow offs" that lack rigor and depth [7]. In fact, more than half of the courses on this list offer some level of quantitative or writing proficiency, showing that they have been vetted by faculty committees and found rigorous by college-wide standards. The courses are also graded rigorously: In 1996--97 the GPA (excluding grades of "Cr") for all non-ExCo courses in the College was 2.93; for the courses on this list it was 2.58.

It is essential that our general-audience science courses be of high quality, because many of our students have only the slimmest of opportunities to learn science: Of the graduating students subject to the 9-9-9 distribution requirement (those entering Oberlin in 1990 or later), fully 22% took the minimum nine science hours at Oberlin and half (49.3%) took fourteen or fewer science hours--the equivalent of one full semester of course work. Contrast this with the medieval curriculum, in which 100% of the graduates devoted 50% of their study to science!

The table below lists introductory professional-training science courses that are suitable for a general audience. Many non-science majors are welcomed into such courses each year. The data available to us suggest that few of these non-science majors fall into the category of those taking fourteen or fewer credit hours of science.

Professional-training courses suitable for a general audience, 1996-97

title hours proficiencies enrollment
Biology 118 Organismal Biology Lecture 3 193
Biology 119 Organismal Biology Lab 1 174
Biology 120 Genetics, Evolution, and Ecology 4 186
Chemistry 101 Structure and Reactivity 4 QPh 154
Chemistry 102 Chemical Principles 4 QPf 123
Comp. Sci. 150 Principles of Computer Science I 4 QPf 64
Comp. Sci. 151 Principles of Computer Science II 4 QPf 40
Geology 160 Physical Geology 3 55
Geology 161 Marine Science 3 79
Geology 162 Environmental Geology 3 64
Mathematics 113 Statistics for the Social Sciences 4 QPf 79
Mathematics 114 Statistics for the Biological Sciences 4 QPf 63
Mathematics 133 Calculus I 4 QPf 205
Mathematics 134 Calculus II 4 QPf 125
Neuroscience 201 The Brain 4 38
Neuroscience 204 Human Neurobiology 4 93
Physics 103 Elementary Physics I 4 QPf 46
Physics 104 Elementary Physics II 4 QPf 42
Physics 110 Mechanics and Relativity 3 QPf 34
Physics 111 Electricity, Magnetism, Optics, Waves 4 QPf 27


Do the courses described in the section on "Existing Efforts," meet the standards outlined in the section on "Implications"?

No. Only one course designed expressly for a general audience--namely Computer Science 102--has weekly laboratory meetings. The large size of many of these courses makes it difficult to achieve the necessary intimate involvement with science. Several of these courses, particularly in Computer Science, are taught by faculty as overloads. Although these faculty do so willingly in view of the benefits their courses offer both to their students and to themselves, we must recognize that in so doing these faculty lose contact with their own fast-changing disciplines and hence become less suitable for teaching general-audience courses--or any other courses--in the future.

Many students admitted by Oberlin College, reflecting a national trend, come to us with poorly developed quantitative skills. (Indeed, the Third International Mathematics and Science Study revealed American high school seniors to be among the developed world's least prepared in mathematics [3].) Others come to us with superb backgrounds. The poorly-prepared students require considerable faculty effort, and it is difficult to expend that effort without boring the well-prepared students. This wide range of student backgrounds is matched by a wide range of of student interests and objectives. These varied needs warrant small courses with considerable flexibility so that faculty can supply individual attention to students. Instead, Oberlin College has fallen into a poor pattern of introductory and general-audience science courses with large enrollments.

Recent pedagogical research [8] has confirmed what experienced science teachers have long known: Teaching science through lecture is less effective than teaching science through laboratories or other interactive engagement methods. The science faculty at Oberlin College have long resorted to lecture methods because these are the only methods that can meet the extraordinary demand given our limited resources. It is without doubt true that non-science majors with particular backgrounds, interests, and objectives can obtain an excellent training in science through the existing courses. But it is just as true that many students--those whose backgrounds, interests, and objectives happen not to match this particular profile--go through the required motions yet fail to obtain an education that fulfills the goals of this report's "Justification" section.

The Oberlin faculty currently teaching general-audience science courses respect the goals and recognize the implications described in this report. They have worked heroically at a vital and difficult task. But they have not had the resources and support necessary to fill the need.


(The recommendations in this section are listed in order of importance.)

The science faculty are already working hard and seriously to provide general-audience science courses that offer true science literacy rather than misleading oversimplifications. Improvement in this area will come--not through gimmicks--but through a genuine institutional commitment commensurate with the seriousness of the problem. The science faculty should offer enough courses intended for a general audience to reduce the average section size from its current value of 54 students down to 25 students, which is the current maximum section size for introductory Art History and English Literature courses [9]. Reaching this target would require 29 additional sections and about six additional faculty members. Clearly, this is a long-term goal. As a first step, we recommend:

Recommendation 1. By the year 2003, the science division faculty should be increased in size by at least three FTE in order to meet the needs of teaching science to a broad audience. With these additional resources, the division should offer at least nine more course sections suitable for the general audience of students. We urge the President to incorporate this goal into the upcoming capital campaign.
We emphasize that these new hires are not to take the task of science literacy upon their own shoulders. They will be working scientists with research students, and they will teach both introductory and advanced professional-training courses. But the curricular flexibility afforded by this additional person-power will multiply the opportunities for all faculty in the division, seasoned as well as new, to develop and teach general-audience courses.

The small number of courses, resulting in a large class size, is not the only problem. We have demonstrated that "science literacy" courses which do not offer intimate involvement with science are actually counterproductive. The laboratory is one place (not the only place) to develop this intimate involvement. We recommend:

Recommendation 2. By the year 2003, given the three additional FTE called for in recommendation 1, the science division should offer at least five courses with laboratory intended for the general audience of students. Curriculum development proposals and equipment funding requests that aim to satisfy this goal should be accorded the highest possible priority.

Even if both recommendations above are accepted, and even if both turn out happily, there will still be a significant number of students in the remaining science literacy courses, all of whom need intimate involvement with science. One way to satisfy this need is through computer exercises with well-thought out software. This is a difficult although promising avenue and we must be wary of technological quick fixes which give only the surface appearance of solving the problem. (For example, a review [20] of nearly a decade of research into computer-based learning in the sciences concluded that, despite the enormous effort expended in this direction, only "a small number of computer uses apparently enabled students" to learn science effectively.) Nevertheless, some solid successes have been scored: for example, software produced by project CLEA (Contemporary Laboratory Experiences in Astronomy) [5] enables students to investigate astronomy hands-on, as if they were in the control room of a telescope or a radar dish or of the Hubble space telescope. The promise of this approach is great enough that we recommend:

Recommendation 3. The College should establish an A&PS position to assist the science faculty in using educational technology to teach science. This position will report to the convener of the Science Advisory Committee and work in cooperation with the Computing Center. The person hired will keep track of and evaluate existing software and will work to find pedagogical problems that can be solved appropriately with educational technology.
Smith College supports a position similar to the one described here, and Smith should be consulted about the details of the arrangement.

The teaching of science literacy courses must not be restricted to a small number of faculty, but seen as an important and interesting activity by all the science faculty. Even departments that do not offer courses designed explicitly for non-majors must realize that a substantial portion of the students in their introductory courses will never take another course in that discipline, and they must acknowledge and cherish that fact. We recommend:

Recommendation 4. The ability to teach for a general audience should be an important component of hiring, reappointment, tenure, and merit review decisions. When advertising for new faculty, the College should list "teaching at all undergraduate levels, including to a general audience" as an expected responsibility for faculty in all disciplines. Oberlin's ongoing analysis of the evaluation of teaching should consider explicitly the problems of teaching science to a general audience as described in this report.

All of these recommendations hinge upon the development of new science facilities, a development currently in the final design stage. These buildings, with their arrangement, aspect, and welcoming commons area, were designed from the start to connect the sciences with the rest of campus both physically and psychologically. Without new facilities it would be difficult to attract new faculty members to Oberlin, and impossible to house them once they arrived. The new facilities are designed to offer more seminar rooms, laboratories, and more flexible teaching spaces to encourage interactive engagement teaching. Even the large 48-seat classrooms are designed to facilitate both lectures and small group discussions, and some of the laboratory rooms are designed to support classes that mix lecture, laboratory, and discussion.


[1] Arnold B. Arons, "Achieving wider scientific literacy," and "Critical thinking," chapters 12 and 13 in A Guide to Introductory Physics Teaching (Wiley, New York, 1990).

[2] Jeremy Bernstein, "Science education for the nonscientist," chapter 16 of Cranks, Quarks, and the Cosmos (Basic Books, New York, 1993).

[3] Ethan Bonner, "U.S. 12th graders rank poorly in math and science, study says," New York Times, 25 February 1998, pages A1 and C20.

[4] Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder (Harper and Row, New York, 1956).

[5] More information on CLEA is available through:

[6] Peter J.W. Debye, remarks at a conference on electrolytic solutions at Yale's Sterling Chemistry Laboratories, 1953 or 1954, as recalled by Henry A. Bent.

[7] The "Dictionary of local [Oberlin] usage," compiled by students in English 339 (Oberlin Observer, 27 March 1998), claims that Geology 118, "Planets, Moons, and Meteorites," carries the nickname "Moons for Goons" because of "a perceived lack of difficulty in the course." The accuracy of this perception can be gauged roughly by comparing the GPA of 2.61 earned by students in Geology 118 with the college-wide GPA of 2.93.

[8] Richard R. Hake, "Interactive-engagement versus traditional methods," American Journal of Physics 66 (1998) 64-74.

[9] In the effective "Workshop Physics" curriculum, "each section has one instructor, two undergraduate teaching assistants, and up to 24 students." Priscilla W. Laws, "Calculus-based physics without lectures," Physics Today 44 (12) (December 1991) 24-31.

[10] Aldo Leopold, "The ecological conscience," reprinted on pages 338-346 of The River of the Mother of God and Other Essays (University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Wisconsin, 1991).

[11] C.S. Lewis, The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K., 1964).

[12] Ian Marshall and Danah Zohar, Who's Afraid of Schrodinger's Cat? All the New Science Ideas You Need to Keep Up with the New Thinking (William Morrow, New York, 1997). [This book's cover features prominently a Bohr atom . . . an idea known to be obsolete in 1923.]

[13] F. Curtis Michel, "Science literacy at the college level," Physics Today 46 (1) (January 1993) 69-71.

[14] Oberlin College, Broad Directions for Oberlin's Future, report issued 22 April 1997.

[15] Dr. Seuss, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (Random House, New York, 1960).

[16] Herbert Spencer, "What knowledge is of most worth?" in Essays on Education and Kindred Subjects (J.M. Dent, London, 1911).

[17] James Trefil, 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About Science (Doubleday, New York, 1992). [Including fact number seven: "The red part of the strawberry isn't the fruit."]

[18] Lewis Thomas, "Humanities and science," reprinted on pages 345-352 of A Long Line of Cells (Book of the Month Club, New York, 1990).

[19] Hans Christian von Baeyer, "How Fermi would have fixed it," The Sciences 28 (Sept/Oct 1988) 2-4.

[20] Herman G. Weller, "Assessing the impact of computer-based learning in science," Journal of Research on Computing in Education 28 (1996) 461-485.