Science Literacy Campaign Connects Informal Science Learning to Educational Goals
With a “Science. It’s Everywhere” theme, the Partnership for Science Literacy (PSL) has been reaching out to families about the importance of science, mathematics, and technology literacy for all students. Public service announcements in English and Spanish, community science events in sites around the country, and Family Guide to Science booklets have all aimed to engage parents in the science learning opportunities in their communities and everyday lives. Now, the PSL’s public outreach campaign is looking to show parents how informal science education experiences can contribute to their children’s formal education.
With funds from the National Science Foundation, Project 2061 and the AAAS Education and Human Resources Directorate established the PSL and signed on science centers in five sites as the chief partners: the Austin Children's Museum; the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa; the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County; the Discovery Center of Science and Technology in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley; and Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. These sites created the first versions of the Family Guide to Science to give parents educational tips and suggestions as well as detailed information on local science resources.
The Partnership now involves a total of 26 communities. Unique online versions of the Family Guide to Science are available for 20 of these communities on the PSL Web site at www.ScienceEverywhere.org, with the rest coming soon. As the campaign has expanded, the message has remained simple and easy to comprehend: science education is for every child, science is around you in your life everyday, parents can play a key role in their children’s learning, and science is fun!
The campaign plans to take its message one step further, by outlining how local science centers can help students achieve their school’s learning goals. While the Family Guides were created to inspire parents to become involved, ask questions, and seek information, a new brochure for each center will serve to answer parent questions—specifically, how science resources in their community can help children meet their school’s science standards.
As standards take on a bigger role in schooling and parents become better informed about their children’s science learning goals, it will be helpful for families to make connections between educational activities outside of school and what takes place in the classroom. The new standards-based brochures—to be created by the partner sites for public distribution this summer—will help make these connections. A science center or museum, for example, can show how a particular exhibit or activity it offers addresses a specific, identified learning goal set forth by the state or local school district.
These new brochures will build on the success of the previously produced Family Guides, TV, radio, and print ads, and other outreach materials, all of which are available at www.ScienceEverywhere.org, hosted by TryScience.org. In 2004, the Washington, DC, chapter of the Public Relations Society of America awarded a certificate of excellence to AAAS and the Element Agency for crafting the PSL’s message, its bilingual (English/Spanish) Web site, and its outreach campaign.
As the Partnership’s work expands, it aims to demystify a subject that many parents appreciate but few feel confident about. As the research foundation of the Partnership showed, parents recognize the importance of a good science education, but often feel powerless to help their children (view presentation highlighting the findings of research conducted by Global Strategy Group, Inc.). This public outreach campaign is showing families that doing science with kids is not only possible, but also accessible and fun.
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For more information about the Partnership for Science Literacy and its collaborations with informal science education institutions, please contact:
Communications Director, AAAS Project 2061:
Mary Koppal, (202)
Senior Project Director, AAAS Education and Human Resources Programs: Judy Kass, (202) 326-6667
Principal Investigator: Dr. Jo Ellen Roseman, (202) 326-6666