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Interest in STEM and the Internet

So, why did we run March Science Madness? One of our staff members was inspired by the paper Exploring New Web-Based Tools to Identify Public Interest in Science and wanted to show off the graphs for each STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) field. Instead of boring the readers to death, we played a game with the charts. But, now, its time to put on the lab coats and do science.

First, lets go over what these graph aren’t. They do not mean that interest in STEM is going down necessarily. These graphs are the ratio of the entered term vs. all Google searches.

These does suggest, however, that the media will be less likely to report on science and technology. On both traditional and internet-based media, “the percentage of Americans who say they follow science and technology news closely has declined over the past 10 years, more than in other topics covered by the news media”. Based on this, this blog feels these two factors make it less and less likely for media to report on science. They have to sell ads and STEM terms don’t draw as many people.

However, it seems that huge science events still draw people. The paper noted increases in searches when noble prizes where awarded, when controversy was involved or when when a large experiment went online (like the LHC or Hubble). Thus, Google trends could be used to highlight experiments that are known the get the public excited.

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