A new course at the University of California, Davis, is trying to make students "science literate" by showing them the science in everything from world events to daily life.
"There's a tremendous ignorance about science, but it's really something everyone in society should know something about," said geology professor Eldridge Moores, who with geology lecturer Richard Cowen is running the class.
For its first quarter, Science 1 has three themes: Mars exploration, California's energy problems and water issues in California. Cowen and Moores also take stories from the news and use them to discuss scientific issues. For example, recent unrest in Venezuela -- one of the largest suppliers of oil to the U.S. -- was the jumping-off point for a discussion of oil supplies and alternative energy sources, based largely on stories in newspapers and magazines.
"We have a lot of asides," Moores said.
A major aim is to encourage students to think about whether assertions and statistics presented as science in news stories are plausible and make sense.
Geologists need to know a little bit about a wide range of subjects such as mathematics, chemistry, biology and astronomy, according to Moores and Cowen. That makes geology a good place to start for a general science course, Moores said.
Students in enrolled in the class range from electrical engineering to humanities majors.