Atlas of Science Literacy, Volumes 1 and 2

Mapping K–12 science learning

Order copies of Atlas 1, Atlas 2, or the two-volume set

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Volume 1 ISBN: 0871686686

Volume 2 ISBN-13: 9780871687128

Atlas of Science Literacy is a two-volume collection of conceptual strand maps—and commentary on those maps—that show how students’ understanding of the ideas and skills that lead to literacy in science, mathematics, and technology might develop from kindergarten through 12th grade.

The maps in Atlas are built from the K-12 learning goals presented in Project 2061’s Benchmarks for Science Literacy. Benchmarks was derived from the recommendations for adult science literacy proposed in Project 2061’s landmark report Science for All Americans.

Cover of Atlas of Science Literacy, Volume I Cover of Atlas of Science Literacy, Volume II

Together, Atlas 1 and Atlas 2 map all of the goals that are recommended in Benchmarks as essential for every student to learn. Both volumes of Atlas of Science Literacy are co-published by AAAS Project 2061 and the National Science Teachers Association.

Nearly 100 Science Topics Mapped

The two Atlas volumes include nearly 100 maps that chart all of the learning goals specified in Benchmarks. The chapter organization of Atlas follows that used in both Science for All Americans and Benchmarks. Each Atlas chapter includes maps that correspond to the sections in the matching Benchmarks chapters. To help readers find particular benchmarks, Atlas 2 includes a useful index that can be used to locate benchmarks on maps in either volume.

Each Atlas map is accompanied by commentary on the facing page. The commentary provides a general discussion of the map topic, the content of the map and its major strands, and the focus of learning at each of the four grade ranges. The commentary also includes notes pointing out aspects of the map that may be of interest to readers and summaries of the relevant cognitive research, drawn from Chapter 15: THE RESEARCH BASE in Benchmarks and elsewhere.

Using Atlas of Science Literacy

An Atlas map focuses on a core topic and displays the K-12 benchmarks that are most relevant to understanding it, suggesting for each benchmark along the way earlier benchmarks it builds on and later benchmarks it supports. A Map Key explains the different features of the maps.

Educators working in a wide range of settings are making extensive use of Atlas maps to:

Understand benchmarks and standards. By studying maps carefully, teachers and other educators can get a better sense of the content and nature of the benchmarks as specific learning goals.

Design curriculum. The information in the maps helps educators distribute responsibilities for students’ science learning across different grades and subjects, thus fostering K-12 coherence.

Plan instruction. Maps enable educators to develop instruction that is focused on the specific ideas in a benchmark and to take account of the precursors these specific ideas build on.

Develop or evaluate curriculum materials. Maps offer materials developers a helpful perspective on which benchmarks to target and at what level of sophistication.

Construct and analyze assessment. Maps help answer questions about when it is appropriate to assess particular ideas and skills, and why students might have had trouble with a particular task.

Prepare teachers. Whether in a pre-service or in-service context, using maps can sharpen teachers’ sense of what benchmarks mean and how to help students attain them.

Organize resources. Maps are proving to be useful frameworks for organizing education resources and linking them to particular ideas that are found in national and state science standards.

The maps in Atlas 1 and Atlas 2 do not prescribe a particular curriculum or instructional strategy. Instead, they present a framework meant to inspire a variety of different ways to design and organize learning experiences suited to local circumstances.


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This work is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. ESI-0103678. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.