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Abstract Detail

President's Symposia - Understanding the Crisis in Science Literacy: The BSA is Planting Science in the 21st Century

Scotchmoor, Judith [1], Caldwell, Roy [1], Thanukos, Anna [1], Allison, Lee [2], O\'Grady, Richard [3].

Improving the Public Understanding of Science.

“Most Americans do not understand the scientific process,” nor can they distinguish between science and non-science (National Science Board, 2006). Given the impact of science on society, the lack of public understanding of science should be a concern to us all. In large part, the current confusions about evolution, global warming, stem cell research, and other aspects of science deemed by some as “controversial” are symptomatic of a general misunderstanding of what science is and what it is not. Too few of our citizens view science as a dynamic process through which we gain a reliable understanding of the natural world. As a result, the public becomes vulnerable to misinformation and the very real benefits of science become obscured.
In response, several initiatives have emerged from the science research community to engage the public and improve public understanding about how science works, why it matters, and who scientists are. Two such initiatives welcome participation from the scientific community. (1) The Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS) is a grassroots effort whose goal is to engage sectors of the public in science to increase their understanding of the nature of science and its value to society. A primary activity of COPUS is the Year of Science 2009 – a national, year-long celebration of science. (2) Coordinating with COPUS, Understanding Science is an NSF-funded, collaborative project of the University of California, Berkeley and the Museum of Paleontology. At its core is a freely accessible website that provides an accurate portrayal of how science really works and how to incorporate this process into our teaching. Unfortunately, many textbooks encourage impoverished and uninspired views of science. This project offers a new approach for K-16 teachers.

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Related Links:
Understanding Science - an educational website focusing on the nature and process of science
The Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science
Understanding Evolution - an educational website to support the teaching of evolution

1 - University of California, Museum of Paleontology, 1101 Valley Life Sciences Building #4780, Berkeley, CA, 94720-4780, USA
2 - Arizona Geological Survey, 416 W. Congress, #100, Tucson, AZ, 85701, USA
3 - American Institue of Biological Science, 1444 Eye Street, Nw, Ste 200, Washington, DC, 20005, USA

scientific teaching
public understanding
scientific method
Science Education
Year of Science

Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: S10
Location: 182/I K Barber
Date: Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
Time: 3:10 PM
Number: S10004
Abstract ID:925

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