Science and Politics in an Election Year

Science and Politics in an Election Year
Science and politics might seem odd partners, but they are intertwined. Candidates' opinions on various policy issues, such as stem-cell research, global warming, drug trials, and technology, affect their success. The electoral process itself includes a variety of scientifically based techniques, including decision making, opinion surveys, and electronic voting machines. Those elected to office hold hearings, appoint advisors, and determine budgetary priorities, including scientific inquiry grants, space travel, and energy resources.

Science NetLinks offers these election-related resources so teachers can show students how science and politics are not unrelated issues, but instead work hand-in-hand, both in the machinations of getting elected and in the work of governing.
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  • Making Good Decisions

    Making Good Decisions

    K-2  |  Website
    In this lesson, students practice balancing different interests involved in solving social problems, looking for the most realistic solution.
  • Bias Sampling

    Bias Sampling

    3-5  |  Hands-On
    This lesson demonstrates how the results of a poll or scientific study can be biased by selecting special types of people or by asking only certain questions.
  • Opinion Surveys

    Opinion Surveys

    This lesson introduces students to factors that can affect the accuracy of opinion surveys.


Science Updates

  • Consensus Model

    Consensus Model

    6-12  |  Audio
    Although the country is divided politically, we actually agree on a lot of things: for example, that baseball and apple pie symbolize America, that we drive on the right side of the road, or that June is a nice month for weddings. This Science Update explores a study that explored how we come to these agreements.
  • True or False

    True or False

    6-12  |  Audio
    In this Science Update, you'll hear about a study that suggests correcting false information can sometimes make matters worse.
  • Opinion Repetition

    Opinion Repetition

    6-12  |  Audio
    In this Science Update, learn why hearing one person repeat the same opinion is surprisingly influential.

AAAS Resources

Science and Technology in the 2012 Presidential Election
Grade Band: 9-12
Description: AAAS offers answers from the two major candidates to questions about science and technology, as well as other science-related resources for the upcoming presidential election.

What Will the U.S. Election Mean for Science?
Grade Band: 9-12
Description: The archived transcript of the Nov. 1, 2012, ScienceNOW Live Chat discussing how the next occupant of the Oval Office faces some tough science challenges, both at home and abroad. How has science fared under the Obama administration? What issues should the next president tackle first? And how will the results of the election affect important issues such as stem cell and climate change research?

Other Resources

Vote: The Machinery of Democracy
Grade Band: 6-12
Description: This exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History explores the act of voting. It includes information on various ways Americans have cast their ballots throughout history.

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