Skip to main content

Global Influence of Project 2061's Science Education Efforts

Continuing to build strong ties between science educators in the U.S. and Asia, Project 2061’s director Jo Ellen Roseman and deputy director George DeBoer recently participated in two international conferences focused on promoting science literacy and STEM innovations. DeBoer was a keynote speaker at the 2015 Shanghai International Forum on Science Literacy for Adolescents on September 13 in Shanghai, China. The forum was sponsored by the Shanghai Science Association for Young Talents, part of the Shanghai Association for Science and Technology (SAST).  And in July at the U.S.-Korea Conference on Science, Technology, and Entrepreneurship, Roseman spoke at a session organized by the Korea Foundation for the Advancement of Science and Creativity (KOFAC).

Both events reflect the wide influence of Project 2061’s work and the productive relationships the project has forged with key science education organizations in Korea and Shanghai. Several of Project 2061’s publications have been translated into Chinese and Korean and distributed widely to educators in China and Korea.

DeBoer’s participation in the Shanghai Forum is the result of a longstanding collaboration of Project 2061 and SAST in which the two organizations have explored U.S. and Chinese approaches to promoting science literacy. SAST has welcomed DeBoer and other Project 2061 staff at the Forum in previous years, and Project 2061 has hosted workshops at AAAS Headquarters for delegations of science educators from Shanghai. 

In his keynote talk at the 2015 Forum titled “Continuing Efforts to Improve Science Education in the U.S,” DeBoer reviewed the history of science standards development in the U.S. and the role of Project 2061 for an audience of several hundred science teachers from various Chinese provinces, many of whom were being recognized for excellence in teaching.

A number of the Chinese educators also presented STEM courses that they had developed, and DeBoer was invited to comment on them and to share his ideas about the benefits and the challenges of taking a more integrated approach to STEM teaching and learning. He pointed out how mathematics, technology, engineering design, and science concepts can all be used to help understand many currently important science and engineering problems but acknowledged the difficulties of creating such courses when most science teachers, whether in China or the United States, have been trained to teach a single discipline. He also noted the value of a disciplinary approach to science teaching, which can serve to concentrate attention and enable teachers, curriculum developers, and ultimately students to focus on a subset of the entire science domain in a coherent way. He also emphasized that such a disciplinary approach should take advantage of connections to other disciplines whenever possible.

"Both disciplinary science courses and integrated STEM courses, with their more thematic approach, have value in a school science curriculum," DeBoer said.

At the U.S.-Korea Conference in Atlanta, Roseman joined representatives from KOFAC in a session focused on that organization’s plan to develop a new framework for science education in Korea. Inspired by Science for All Americans, Project 2061’s 1989 publication that defined what a science literate adult should know and be able to do, KOFAC is in the process of developing its own Science for All Koreans  and a series of books to guide science education in Korea. KOFAC has already translated several of Project 2061’s books into Korean and distributed them to high schools, libraries, and various ministries and institutes involved in science, technology, and education.

Roseman’s presentation, “Achieving Science Literacy for All: Contributions from AAAS Project 2061,” described the origins of Project 2061, its standards-based approach to improving science teaching and learning, and its current efforts to help educators achieve science literacy for all. In a paper written for the conference, Roseman also touched on the role of scientists and scientific organizations such as AAAS in reforming science education, including the development of standards and the curriculum materials, assessments, and teacher professional development that are aligned to them.