Sorry, But This Post May Make One in Three of You Feel Ill

A recent survey by The Institution of Engineering and Technology in London found that 48 percent of parents with kids between the ages of five and 13 years old don’t know what “STEM” stands for.

So it’s not surprising that one in three of these parents admit that the very thought of having to answer a STEM-related question for their kids leaves them feeling ill.

Here are some additional sobering statistics from the study:

  • only slightly more than 20% are familiar with the term “Boolean logic”
  • 46 percent don’t know what binary code is
  • 68 percent can’t define a hexadecimal
  • 64 percent are in the dark about Raspberry Pi technology
  • Over half couldn’t remember what photosynthesis is
  • 68 percent can’t recall Pythagoras’ theorem
  • 54 percent can’t remember how to solve long division problems.
  • 52 percent can’t calculate fractions
  • Four in 10 couldn’t name the number of sides comprising an octagon
  • 73 percent can’t recite Newton’s law of universal gravitation
  • 47% don’t understand prime numbers or recognize the symbol for pi
  • two-thirds can’t remember the name for when a liquid turns into a gas
  • 52 percent don’t know the boiling point of water
  • 61 percent don’t know how to calculate the circumference of a circle (the other 60% don’t care)

It’s a shame that so many parents are math and/or science phobic, since such a fear could be passed on to their children.

I love math, and like science, but I have to admit that I would struggle with some of these topics.

However, I wouldn’t get ill if my child asked me to explain photosynthesis or how the hexadecimal system works, but would be excited to re-educate myself about such topics and then share that knowledge with my child.

But we’ve all got our likes and dislikes, our strengths and weaknesses.

If someone asked me to explain the purpose of a fuel pump or where the struts are on a car, I would start to feel ill, and less of a man.

Ask me to solve for the hypotenuse of a right triangle though, and I’m your man.

But if my car breaks down on the side of the road, I don’t think the Pythagorean Theorem is going to come in too handy…

78 thoughts on “Sorry, But This Post May Make One in Three of You Feel Ill

      1. I was once trying to decode a license plate before realizing it wasn’t Roman numerals.

        Back when personalized plates were new, I remember my dad saying he figured out one said “69” in binary.

        Liked by 3 people

  1. OK, to be fair only part of this makes me feel ill. The other part, I’m sadly in the “stupid adult” category. But I also never claimed to be smarter than a third grader. But I don’t feel ill trying to help a kid learn because I’m willing to learn with them (as long as it isn’t the new math that I’ve tried but the only person able to explain it to me was the kid who was having trouble paying attention in class LOL)

    I too am in the dark about Raspberry Pi technology

    I only remember Pythagoras’ theorem because I simply was incapable of remembering it when I was learning it, so it was drilled into my head so hard that I think it’s carved on my skull.

    100% of the 73% that can’t recite Newton’s law of universal gravitation clearly never rode horses.

    52 percent don’t know the boiling point of water – I can see maybe getting confused because of the different temperatures and learning both alternatively… maybe?

    61 percent don’t know how to calculate the circumference of a circle (the other 60% don’t care) 🤣😂🤣😂🤣😂🤣😂

    Even scarier – no one even remembers the Dewy Decimal System.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. so maybe Google is behind all this new math stuff, just to deliberately confuse us so that we end up on their site.

      and I am sure the results would have been much better in the U.S. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I got all the math ones right, but not all the science-related questions. It’s scary how little some people know. As you say, we tend to remember the things we like.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This is why we have teachers who should be doing their jobs and explaining their subjects to students so parents don’t have to. And yes, many scientific and mathematical equations won’t help when you are on the side of the road with a broken down car. But some might…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. this past year had to be a tough one, for students, teachers, and parents. And if I broke down on the side of the road, I’d be busy trying to calculate how much this is going to cost me, and how late I’ll be for wherever I was headed…

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Raspberry P is that credit card-sized computer which doesn’t operate on Windows…I only know as my grandson was telling me about maybe in the hopes he could persuade me to buy him one..as for the rest it’s on a need to know basis I can look it up but feel sick..nope..I see it as a refresher for me or a learning curve…:)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I like the idea behind the Raspberry Pi, but I feel blessed to have my MacBook. And yes, it is so easy to look things up these days (which I did with the one about gravity). and we could all use a refresher now and then…

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I don’t remember everything on your billeted lists, but I’m like 85%. Thankfully my husband is a metallurgical engineer who reads long STEM related text books for fun. So the kids are covered.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I am still a little confused about the % you are using. My grandmother Lucille used that symbol to type the word “to” and that misinformation led to me getting an “F” on a Freshman essay in college despite my explanation to the Professor who assumed I was either messing with him or too stupid to be in college.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. A good post Jim, but not as we know it! 😆 I think that the key point about the survey is NOT that parents couldn’t remember Newton’s Laws, but that they felt ill if they were asked to help their children with STEM questions. My wife and I did PhDs in chemistry in the late 1960s. On that journey we compiled a lot of scientific knowledge …. Newton’s Laws, Boyles Laws, Hookes Law, etc. Today, we can’t remember any of them, though we know they concerned motion, gases, and force, AND we know where to go to find and understand them. Looking at that STEM list, many weren’t part of any curriculum we studied, but ….. helping our children to find the answers and making them aware of the process to finding the answers was always a family adventure. Just don’t get me going on how some fundamental science has been erased from our curricula. And finally, some parents would feel ill if their child came home and asked their mothers how to bake a cake!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. you make a great point that unless something is related to what we do, we often lose the knoweldge we once had.

      and teaching kids how to find answers if a valuable, life-long skill.

      and I know I would get a little nervous if someone asked me how to bake a cake!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. As the sole finance person working at various nonprofits over the last 15 years, I’d be astonished if 48% of my coworkers during that period could calculate fractions. Based on my experience with a never-ending series of people coming to ask me for help, I’d estimate about 7%.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. None of us are experts on everything, Jim. I know my limitations especially when it comes to science and when my kids asked questions we looked the answer up together. I test my sons on their schoolwork and I have learned so much from it. I learned about metaphorical poems and the Vietnam war. I also learned about the Cold War which was not part of my history syllabus. I don’t fear such questions, I enjoy them as a learning experience we can have together. Of course now, Greg the mini genius, outstrips us all and can answer everything without looking it up.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. One thought for parents who feel uncomfortable with certain topics in math and science. You can always delve into the textbook with your child. Learning together will strengthen your child’s understanding and increase your confidence in helping out.

    Liked by 1 person

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