Many reports say West Virginia teens lag in high-tech science knowledge needed for the snowballing Information Age. The American Institute of Physics ranks this state 49th in "science and engineering readiness." An international study found that West Virginia 15-year-olds score at the level of Bulgaria in math proficiency.
Various remedies are being attempted, including Gov. Tomblin's statewide school reform. Here's another that deserves support:
The National Youth Science Foundation -- which operates the famed mountain camp for top-scoring high school graduates from every state and some foreign nations -- also conducts a special home-state program called the Youth Science Discovery Experience.
A couple of years ago, NASA gave the foundation $400,000 to train outstanding West Virginia high school science students from all grades. Ever since, top scorers from many counties have been taken in groups of 40 to the Canaan Valley Institute for short sessions of science training. Currently, students from nine counties are sharing the Discovery Experience. But the NASA money is running out.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ron Pearson, philanthropist Newton Thomas and other Science Camp leaders want to expand this operation to hold more sessions and serve hundreds of bright West Virginia students yearly. They're asking education committees in the Legislature to add a line item to the education budget for a larger Youth Science Discovery Experience.
This is a worthy project, helping to spur the state's most promising teens into science careers. We hope lawmakers scrape up enough funding to keep the Discovery Experience rolling.