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Posted Sat Jan 8 2011: from ScienceDaily:
What Carbon Cycle? College Students Lack Scientific Literacy, Study Finds
Most college students in the United States do not grasp the scientific basis of the carbon cycle -- an essential skill in understanding the causes and consequences of climate change, according to research published in the January issue of BioScience.... "Improving students' understanding of these biological principles could make them better prepared to deal with important environmental issues such as global climate change," said Charles "Andy" Anderson, MSU professor of teacher education and co-investigator on the project.... Students trying to explain weight loss, for example, could not trace matter once it leaves the body; instead they used informal reasoning based on their personal experiences (such as the fat "melted away" or was "burned off"). In reality, the atoms in fat molecules leave the body (mostly through breathing) and enter the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and water. Most students also incorrectly believe plants obtain their mass from the soil rather than primarily from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. "When you see a tree growing," Anderson said, "it's a lot easier to believe that tree is somehow coming out of the soil rather than the scientific reality that it's coming out of the air."
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