About Project 2061

Project 2061 of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is a long-term, comprehensive effort to reform K-12 science education nationwide so that all high-school graduates are science literate. For more than a decade, Project 2061 has been working with scientists and engineers, educators, policy makers, business and industry executives, community leaders, and parents to develop goals for student learning in science, mathematics, and technology. In 1989 Project 2061's landmark report, Science for All Americans described the knowledge and skills essential to science literacy. Its 1993 report Benchmarks for Science Literacy translated those science literacy goals into specific learning expectations for students at the end of grades 2, 5, 8, and 12. Project 2061 is now creating a coordinated set of reform tools to help educators design curricula to meet those goals in their districts.

WHAT IS SCIENCE LITERACY?

Science for All AmericansTo answer that question, Project 2061 drew on the work of five scientific panels convened by AAAS to help define what it would mean to be science literate. Their recommendations became the basis for Science for All Americans (SFAA) which identifies specific knowledge and habits of mind that people need to make sense of how the world works, to think critically and independently, and to lead interesting, responsible, and productive lives in a culture shaped by science and technology. The full text of Science for All Americans is provided on this Resources for Science Literacy CD-ROM, and a summary of each chapter is included in the companion print volume.

TOOLS FOR SCIENCE LITERACY

To help educators put the literacy goals of Science for All Americans to use in their schools and school districts, Project 2061 is developing a coordinated set of print and electronic reform tools. In addition to the Resources for Science Literacy tools, the set includes:

Benchmarks for Science Literacy

Benchmarks For Science LiteracyCreated in collaboration with school district teams of teachers across the country, Benchmarks for Science Literacy (1993) and Benchmarks on Disk (1994) recommend specific learning goals, or benchmarks, for all students to reach as they progress toward science literacy. Careful consideration went into the content and sequence of benchmarks to ensure that they reflect a logical progression of ideas, with sufficient early-grade benchmarks anticipating the more difficult benchmarks for later grades.

Along with the sequential, K-12 connections among benchmarks are many cross-subject connections in keeping with Project 2061's emphasis on the interconnectedness of knowledge. Essays and a cross-reference feature make these explicit. In addition, Benchmarks' Chapter 15: The Research Base offers a survey of the education research that influenced the content and grade-level placement of benchmark ideas. (The chapter is included in the Cognitive Research component of this Resources for Science Literacy: Professional Development CD-ROM) A computer-disk version of Benchmarks is available in DOS, MacIntosh, and Windows formats.

Designs for Science Literacy

Designs for Science LiteracyTo provide educators with further guidance on how to reshape the entire curriculum, Project 2061 is developing Designs for Science Literacy, which will offer advice for analyzing and planning a K-12 curriculum around science literacy goals. Designs will draw on the experiences of the project's school-district collaborators as they attempted to develop and implement local curriculum models. It will also offer the project's latest thinking about how schools and school districts can get started in curriculum design--how they can free the core curriculum of terms and topics that do not serve science literacy, build connections into the curriculum, link resources and assessment to learning goals, diversify instruction, attend to relevant research, and focus professional development on specific learning goals.

Blueprints for Reform

Blueprints for ReformTeachers who have attempted to make changes in the content of their school's curriculum or in their own instructional approaches know something of the obstacles to reform. The most promising new curriculum won't survive if the school can't afford the right materials for it, most of the teachers aren't sure how to teach it, and the community opposes it. Hence Project 2061's focus on systemic reform, reform that attends to all parts of the education system that can support or impede innovations in the curriculum. The Project's recommendations for systemic reform will appear in Blueprints for Reform and will draw on a dozen concept papers prepared by expert groups convened over several years to discuss changes needed in teacher education, materials and technology, assessment, curriculum connections, school organization, family and community, business and industry, higher education, policy, finance, equity, and research.