2061 Connections
An electronic newsletter for the science education community

March/April 2007

Golden Fund Helps Project 2061 Reach Wider Audience

Four innovative resources will promote science literacy

How can science centers and museums do more to support science education in the classroom? What do teachers need to know to select high quality instructional materials and online resources linked to K–12 learning goals? How can members of the public gain a better understanding of the nature of science?

Thanks to grants from the William T. Golden Endowment Fund for Program Innovation, Project 2061 is developing four new science literacy resources to help answer these questions. Golden, AAAS’s treasurer emeritus, established the fund in 2003 to stimulate innovation within AAAS programs by funding activities not normally supported by the general budget. For Project 2061, the funding makes it possible to create new booklets, professional development workshops, and electronic tools to meet the needs of a wide range of formal and informal science educators and of members of the public.

Project 2061 is currently at work on the following Golden Fund projects:

Exploring the Nature of Science with AAAS’s Atlas of Science Literacy

This booklet will portray the nature of science in a set of related strand maps and additional text drawn from Project 2061’s Atlas of Science Literacy, Volumes 1 and 2, Benchmarks for Science Literacy, Science for All Americans, and elsewhere. The booklet will promote the Atlas to new and existing audiences in the formal and informal science education communities and will provide a tool for helping members of the public gain a better understanding of the nature of science. The strand maps, with their user-friendly visual presentation of the connections among key science ideas and skills, will present an overview of Project 2061’s recommendations for what all students should learn about the scientific world view, the way scientists go about their work, and the utility of scientific thinking in everyday life.

Like Project 2061’s teaching guides on evolution and on global climate change, the new booklet will be a valuable outreach tool for use in public forums and in professional development workshops for teachers. In addition to making 10,000 print copies of the booklet available, Project 2061 will post a PDF version on its Web site.

Interactive Strand Maps for Accessing K–12 Teaching Resources Online

Drawing on the strand maps in Atlas of Science Literacy, Project 2061 is developing a prototype of interactive strand maps that will help educators easily access online resources aligned to K–12 learning goals. The interactive maps will allow users to select specific learning goals and then access a wealth of high quality resources aligned to those learning goals, including (1) clarifications of the key ideas targeted by the learning goals, (2) commonly held student ideas, (3) phenomena and representations that illustrate or help explain the key ideas, and (4) assessment items. Now in development are maps for the topics “Flow of Matter and Energy in Living Systems” and “Chemical Reactions.” Project 2061 is taking advantage of recent advances in the ability of Web browsers to display Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) in order to make the large strand maps as user-friendly and efficient as possible for time-pressed teachers.

Project 2061 Professional Development for Informal Science Institutions

Project 2061 has for many years offered professional development workshops designed primarily to help classroom science teachers and science curriculum specialists align their curriculum, instruction, and assessment with science literacy goals. Now, Project 2061 is customizing its workshops so that they meet the needs of informal science institutions and of the teachers they serve. Recognizing the important role that institutions like science centers, museums, and planetariums can play in supporting what is happening in the classroom, Project 2061 aims to help informal science educators take advantage of its tools and resources.

Project 2061 has been gathering information from the informal science community on the kinds of programs they currently offer to teachers and on the professional development needs they have for their own staff. The customized workshop in development will help participants understand how to use such tools as Atlas of Science Literacy and Project 2061’s content alignment strategies, and to gain insights into what is known about effective science teaching and learning. The workshop will also help informal science educators interpret their institutions’ exhibits and other resources through the lens of standards-based science education.

A Consumer’s Guide to Selecting High Quality Instructional Materials

Instructional materials have an enormous influence on the content and nature of K–12 education in science and mathematics. But as shown by Project 2061’s textbook evaluations, most textbooks fail to help students meet the goals in Project 2061’s Benchmarks for Science Literacy or the National Research Council’s National Science Education Standards. To help science educators make more informed decisions about instructional materials, whether in print or digital format, Project 2061 is developing a “Consumer’s Guide to Selecting High Quality Instructional Materials.”

To be useful for a wide range of educators, the guide will include example learning goals from the physical, chemical, life, and earth sciences as well as mathematics. The guide will walk users through Project 2061’s curriculum materials analysis procedure, include clarifications of what benchmarks and standards expect students to know, and provide illustrative examples of instructional materials that show varying degrees of content alignment and of meeting evaluation criteria for instructional support. Interactive tutorials will be provided on a companion CD-ROM. The Project 2061 approach to analyzing curriculum materials has been recognized as a major contribution to the field. Thanks to the Golden Fund, Project 2061’s “Consumer’s Guide” will make this approach more widely available to educators in the science and mathematics communities.

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For more information about Project 2061's Golden Fund projects, please contact:

Communications Director: Mary Koppal, (202) 326-6643

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