I have no idea what it means to be competent in biology, and judging by the practice questions, I am not alone. If a child passes the biology competency test, is she a biologist?
I chased a herd of daphnia today in one of my tanks--we have about 10 in the room. A child from another class came to visit today, just to see stuff.
We have a generation of children who do not see stuff. We have a generation of adults who do not see stuff. We can't even blame the gods-we've gone done outsourced hubris.
In a couple of weeks I will lead almost 200 kids on a trip to Sandy Hook. We will hold fiddler crabs and grass shrimp and pipefish and horseshoe crabs. We will get too much sun, and a few of us will lose some red blood cells. Children will watch the tide fall--we cannot stay long enough to watch it rise again.
We will hunt for hermit crabs and whelks and killies and mussels.
The children will see that the world is for them, of them, and that it is, ultimately, incomprehensible. Science is, to paraphrase Richard Feynman, understanding how nature behaves. The "why" I leave to the priests, the astrologers, the charlatans--grasping the how is more than enough for a thousand lifetimes.
And what, really, will help a larval human "get" science? Prepping for a test given to meet the demands of a few aged men sitting in fancy buildings just over a couple hundred miles away? Or walking along Sandy Hook Bay in early June?
A shame I even need to pose the question. A bloody shame....