Science education & the NSRC

I find this to be an amazing statistic:  45% of all science learning takes place in informal environments.  (no wonder NSF gives so much money to informal science education.)  Yet in a recent seminar on the topic, entitled “Changing the Course of K-16 Science Education,” a DC teacher asked in a roundabout way about the other 55%.  With No Child Left Behind’s emphasis on math and reading scores, very little formal classroom time can be devoted to science.  What then?

nsrc.gif  That’s where the National Science Resources Center comes in.  Do you know this organization?  They are a partnership between the Smithsonian and The National Academies, to provide leadership, services and products for improving the teaching of science.  In other practical words, they guide school districts in how to train teachers, implement, and evaluate the curriculum that NSRC itself has developed. 

NSRC has some incredible statistics of their own – they work with approximately 700 school districts nationwide, affecting 20% of all American school kids.  And they are realizing results, although it does take time.  Unfortunately, the United States is 29th in worldwide standing on science proficiency… in fact, only about 1 in 4 American students are deemed scientifically literate.  The implications of this are sobering of course;  but NSRC is one organization making a difference.  You can check out their impacts on their website.

But what about museums?!  If almost half of the science learning takes place at sites like museums, what is our impact?  How is it consistently measured, and by whom?  How can we do it better given shrinking school budgets and time for field trips?

Perhaps these questions will be addressed at NSRC’s upcoming event, “Changing the Course of Science Education: 2007 National Leadership Development Symposium,” October 31 – November 2 at the National Academies in Washington, D.C.  

And feel free to send your ideas too…  🙂