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Project 2061’s Atlas of Science Literacy Illustrates Standards-Based Science Learning from K-12

As U.S. officials consider new education standards in mathematics and English, a long-term AAAS science literacy initiative continues its efforts to encourage a standards-based approach to science education and set specific learning goals for K-12 students.

Through professional development workshops, AAAS’s Project 2061 helps science educators—from elementary school teachers through college faculty—take a more coherent approach to teaching and learning. Using Project 2061’s Atlas of Science Literacy and other tools, workshop participants get a better understanding of the science ideas students need to learn and develop new strategies for sequencing lessons to build on what students already know and for helping students see how concepts fit together and can be applied to various scenarios.

The goal of the workshops is to prepare educators to foster their students’ science literacy. Science literacy enables individuals to use science to make more well-informed decisions in areas related to science and technology that are relevant in their daily lives, such as in personal health and the use of energy resources.

The workshops are centered on how to use the two-volume Atlas of Science Literacy, a research-based teaching tool published by Project 2061 in 2001 and 2007. Seven workshops will be held across the United States and in Canada in 2010. The next workshop is 24-26 March at the AAAS headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Other Atlas workshops this year will be held in:

  • Ashland, Oregon., 17-19 June (in conjunction with a meeting of the AAAS Pacific Division);
  • Lebanon, New Hampshire, 16-18 August;
  • Calgary, Ontario, 8-10 September;
  • Columbia, Missouri, 6-8 October;
  • Washington, D.C., 13-15 October; and
  • Hampton, Connecticut, 1-3 December.

The Atlas of Science Literacy illustrates how students’ knowledge of science develops from kindergarten through high school as they weave together related concepts and skills and move from simpler to more sophisticated understandings. The Atlas’s two volumes include almost 100 “conceptual strand maps” covering topics across science, mathematics, and technology.

The three-day workshops developed by AAAS’s Project 2061 are intended to show educators how to use the strand maps. Not just for science teachers, the workshops attract anyone interested in science education, including curriculum specialists, science textbook publishers, and representatives from higher education. The range of attendees indicates that “improving science education is a concern at all levels of the system ,” said Mary Koppal, communications director at Project 2061.

Educators from informal learning environments, such as museums and science centers, also attend the Atlas workshops. Sometimes, these informal science learning institutions host an Atlas workshop. “It’s a way for them to offer a valuable service to their local science education community,” Koppal said.


See the 2010 schedule for Using Atlas of Science Literacy workshops.