One student even stuck the wrong end of a mercury thermometer in the water since she's never seen one in her life LOL
Well that's one stupid student - I could have told you which end of a thermometer went in the water since I was about 4.
Lets face it though - teaching for modern technology is not up to scratch whatever subject you're talking about
-In Product Design you are taught about 'smart materials' but many you could talk about or the applications they have - no teacher would have any idea and they wouldn't be covered in a text book. A lot of the information taught about things like that is also technically false but the people writing the book describe them as 'new materials' and as though they're mythical and nobody uses them.
- In Engineering you could
in theory do a project based on software or electronics/microcontrollers but heaven help you about marking as you can be sure your teacher will have no idea what you're doing or how to mark it (and the mark scheme isn't really set up for anything apart from metal bashing type projects).
- In physics you will be taught basics but nothing really (as liudr says) about modern technologies, how to use them, how they work etc. You might
get taught about oscilloscopes in the broadest sense but you're unlikely to understand what they're actually used for (apart from thinking they're used in hospitals for displaying heartbeats).
- In maths you get taught an awful lot of theoretical calculations but due to the way the mark schemes are set up - in most schools you won't get told any applications for any of these, why you'd use them etc. because you don't need to be taught that - which puts a lot of people off (it put me off).
- In IT you get taught how to use MS office products (same with the so called 'IT Key Skills Levels') and maybe some limited visual programming in some proprietary software.
Even in the STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering & Maths) clubs in schools which I hear are pretty popular now, the type of things you might do depends completely on what teachers are into and what they know how to do (which in terms of helping people get an interest in modern technologies is pretty much nothing).
For that reason, I'm seriously thinking of doing something to try and help this sorry state of affairs - teaching kids what they should know to get into modern technologies - teaching them how to use and understand a computer, what electronics actually do, how theoretical physics and maths links into programming and software, what kinds of products can be made (what and where they are used) etc.
/rant - I kinda carried on going really off topic in my own thread