AAAS Op-Ed: Don’t Confine Science to the Classroom

Backyard star parties and interactive museums are “undervalued” when it comes to science education, although the informal science venues are “essential for promoting science literacy and innovation across society,” AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner and Tracy Ross, executive director of the Canadian Association of Science Centres, write in The Vancouver Sun.

In a 25 August op-ed, Leshner and Ross note that “continuing improvements to classroom-based science education must remain a top priority. But informal science learning opportunities—offered by science centres and science events, outside of school—also play an important role in making science more broadly accessible.”

Alan I. Leshner

Finding new ways to bring science to students in Canada’s aboriginal population, as well as the United States’ minority and underprivileged students, will be especially important for Canada and other countries seeking to build an innovative and well-educated future workforce, they suggest.

The H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, Telus World of Science, and the Vancouver Aquarium are among Canadian science centers developing interactive programs to appeal broadly to visitors, Leshner and Ross note. Other informal science fun can be found at the recently-concluded Year of Science in British Columbia, and the AAAS Annual Meeting when it convenes in Vancouver on 16-20 February 2012.

“Activities that help increase students’ interest in science during formative years seem to be at least, if not more, important than mastering science content,” Leshner and Ross conclude.


Read the full Vancouver Sun op-ed by Alan I. Leshner and Tracy Ross.

Learn more about Family Science Days and other public activities at the 2012 AAAS Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada.