Below is a letter to Members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) about the State of Science Education: The Education of Future Scientists by Dr. Alan Leshner, CEO of the largest professional society of physical & natural scientists, engineers, and social scientists.
Sciene and Science Education are important. Segments of society that are under-educated in science and math will not be able to fully participate (and advocate for themselves) in 21st century dynamics. Our health, food supply, living situations, medical care and even job opportunties are becoming more sophisticated and steeped in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) advancement.
We are living in a time when science and technology are embedded in every aspect of modern life, and therefore we must make sure that all students have familiarity with and a strong grounding in the nature of science and its core concepts. In addition, to assure a future of continuing scientific innovation, educators must continue to draw talented students into the science profession.
AAAS has had an array of direct impacts on how science is taught through our Project 2061, which laid the groundwork for science education standards, created benchmarks for science literacy, and has ongoing efforts to reform curriculum, instruction, and assessment. A Japanese translation of educational concepts for science literacy, workshops for teachers on how to use our Atlas of Science Literacy, and a field test of assessment tools for use in middle school classrooms are a few examples of Project 2061's recent efforts.
We further promote quality science education through Science NetLinks and its nearly 500 complete standards-based science lessons -- all freely accessible on the web. We engage budding scientists with radio programs, weekly online stories, events for families, and our Kinetic City after-school program. AAAS also recently helped create new science, mathematics, and technology resources for elected school board members across the United States. In addition, 48 middle-grade science and math teachers in Washington, D.C., recently earned master's degrees from The George Washington University in a free, three-year program held at AAAS.
But promoting science literacy and quality education is not enough to guarantee a new crop of professional scientists. We also must educate students about science career opportunities. AAAS has programs to help underrepresented minorities and students with disabilities enter the science work force. In addition, our Science Careers website is the most comprehensive resource for career advice and job openings.
Your AAAS membership helps improve science education. And many of you also share your scientific expertise by getting involved with local schools and youth groups, and by becoming mentors to the future's scientists. Many thanks for your participation and your support.
Alan I. Leshner, CEO, AAAS