Global Influence of Science Literacy Efforts
Director Jo Ellen Roseman spoke in July at the U.S.-Korea Conference on Science, Technology, and Entrepreneurship about the project’s efforts to promote science literacy for all, and the role of scientific organizations such as AAAS in reforming education. Inspired by Project 2061’s publication, Science for All Americans, which defined what a science-literate adult should know and be able to do, the Korea Foundation for the Advancement of Science and Creativity (KOFAC) is working to create a similar document for Koreans.
Bringing Energy Concepts to Teens
“Energy concepts are quite abstract and can be very difficult for students, especially in a life-science context,” said Jo Ellen Roseman, Project 2061’s director. “Many middle-school students and college undergraduates share some of the same misunderstandings about energy, so it’s clear that a whole new approach is needed.”
To help make ideas about energy more concrete, the new unit will use a variety of analogies, beginning with phenomena drawn from more familiar physical systems such as combustion and charging a cellphone battery. Building on these experiences, the unit will then help students understand that the same energy-releasing and energy-requiring chemical reactions also occur in living organisms—they are just more complex and difficult to observe. Examples of biological energy transfers include cellular respiration, and creating a charge across a membrane in mitochondria and nerve cells.
The unit will also have students work with a range of models, such as interactive simulations and virtual labs, designed to help them think about and explore energy phenomena and make sense of their observations.
Over the course of the three-year curriculum project, the research team will design a professional-development program and materials for teachers, plus a set of assessments for evaluating students’ understanding of the concepts presented in the new unit.
Workshops for Educators
In addition to introducing the Project’s research and development efforts, the workshops gave participants a chance to try out its tools and resources for themselves. They engaged in activities from the new curriculum unit, for example, and used diagnostic test items from the Project’s science-assessment website.
New Weather@School Website Launched
The new site is consistent with recommendations in the Next Generation Science Standards, and it encourages teachers to integrate the core ideas that students are learning with the practices of science, such as generating data, creating graphs and tables, and looking for relationships and patterns.
Searching for Standards-Aligned Curricula
“Everyone is desperately looking for examples of what [NGSS] looks like in curriculum materials and teaching,” said Jo Ellen Roseman, director of Project 2061. Educators are also going to need tools and measures they can use to evaluate textbook publishers’ claims that their materials are “NGSS-aligned,” she said. The NGSS standards emphasize three main dimensions of science learning: science practices for investigating the world, crosscutting concepts common to all scientific topics, and core ideas within scientific disciplines.
Roseman and her colleagues reported that the EQuIP tool helped them to identify strengths and weaknesses of curricula in several key ways, and engaging in the EQuIP analysis deepened their understanding of the NGSS and its vision for science teaching and learning.
EDUCATION, OUTREACH, AND CAREERS
Improving education and opportunities for students and professionals in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is a primary goal of AAAS. This not only benefits individuals, but society, which needs science-literate citizens and a well-trained STEM workforce. The Education and Human Resources Programs team at AAAS oversees internships, awards, training programs, and conferences that reach out to women and underrepresented groups to ensure that society will have access to a full spectrum of STEM talent.
Many of the students attending the ERN conference participate in programs funded by the NSF’s Division of Human Resources Development, which provides opportunities for underrepresented minorities, women, and persons with disabilities to pursue research and education in STEM fields.
The conference tries to provide a supportive, encouraging space for students who face additional barriers to entering science to present their research, often for the first time, said Shirley Malcom, director of AAAS Education and Human Resources Programs. “This is a wonderful entrée into being able to see yourself as part of the scientific community,” she told attendees.
AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassadors
The Ambassdors, who together hold more than 220 patents, were selected for their high regard for the role of invention, their success with invention, their accomplished professional careers, a commitment to invention’s role in impacting environmental sustainability, and their interest in speaking to different audiences. “All of us have an inventor inside of us,” said Ambassador Lisa Seacat DeLuca, the most prolific woman inventor in IBM history.
EntryPoint! Widens the S&T Pipeline
Of the 580 alumni of the program, more than 80% are now working in STEM fields, and alumni sometimes mentor new students, said Laureen Summers, the program’s coordinator. It is the only such program for disabled college students that focuses on STEM jobs, she said.
Changing the Face of Science
Four women were awarded the first AAAS Marion Milligan Mason Awards for Women in the Chemical Sciences in October. The award is named for a long-time AAAS member and chemist who left a $2.2 million bequest to provide funding for early-career women researchers. The $50,000 awards, which help winners do research and attract and mentor graduate students, will continue to be awarded to three women every two years for the next 20 years.
At an awards ceremony at AAAS, four winners spoke with appreciation for the mentors who helped to steer them on their course. “As I evaluate all the mentorship that I had during my chemistry career, I would like to pass that along to my students,” said Luisa Whittaker-Brooks, an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Utah. She became interested in science as a high-school student in Panama, thanks in large part to an enthusiastic teacher who told her that she had a bright future in chemistry.
AAAS also administers the L’Oréal USA for Women in Science Fellowship, which awarded five women with $60,000 research grants in October. The recipients were an exoplanet astrophysicist, a marine microbiologist, a synthetic biologist, a cancer bioengineer, and a condensed matter physicist.
The Elsevier Foundation Awards for Women in Science in the Developing World, with its partners, the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World and the World Academy of Sciences, also recognize early-career women scientists. Each year, five women are awarded $5,000 and a trip to the AAAS Annual Meeting. The 2015 winners from Nigeria, Sudan, and Vietnam were selected for their contributions to nanoparticle physics, atmospheric physics, medical physics, and computational mathematics, and their efforts to encourage other women to pursue STEM careers. Gilbert S. Omenn, a past AAAS president, and Martha Darling helped to support the awards.
Mass Media Fellows March On
“This program helps in both ways. Not only do we have some of the best science journalists anywhere who have come out of this program and now give back to this program, but we also have dynamic scientists who have come out of this program, and they are also excellent communicators,” said Shirley Malcom, director of Education and Human Resources Programs at AAAS. The highly competitive fellowship is open to upper-level undergraduate students, graduate students, or post-doctoral scholars in STEM fields.