Evolution of Science Education


Education and Curriculum Reform

Approx. 1950 - Approx. 1960

Federal venture into education of science teachers with education and curriculum reform with the support of the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF created a curriculum that was focused on making the content of the science courses modern (National Research, 2007).

College Level Courses in high-school


Advanced high-school students are given college-level science courses by the College Board. These classes include: AP Chemistry, AP Biology, and AP Physics (Hechinger, 2011).

Sputnik I


The Soviet Union advances in the Space Race by launching the first satellite; Sputnik I (Hechinger, 2011).

New Texts and Teaching Methods


With National Science Foundation (NSF) backing, new textbooks and teaching methods are developed such as: Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, CHEM Study, the Physical Science Study Committee at MIT and Harvard Project Physics (Hechinger 2011).

National Defense Education Act


Following the launch of Sputnik I, Congress passes the National Defense Education Act to boost science education (Hechinger, 2011).

Learning Cycle

Approx. 1960 - Approx. 1968

The “learning cycle” was proposed by the Science Curriculum Improvement Study. This cycle includes the following: “(1) exploration of a concept, often through a laboratory experiment; (2) conceptual invention, in which the student or teacher derived the concept from the experimental data, usually during a classroom discussion; and (3) concept application (Karplus and Their, 1967).” This created the existence of interactive science classes.

Apollo 11


Apollo 11 delivers the first manned mission to the moon. According to Western History, this ends the Space Race leaving the United States as the victors. This accomplishment encourages many people to start careers in science (Hechinger, 2011).

National Environmental Education Act


The National Environmental Education Act is signed and creates the Office of Environmental Education. This Office is used to provide grants that will improve teacher training and curriculum development (Hechinger, 2011).

At Risk

Approx. 1980 - Approx. 1988

K-12 students’ achievement levels were assessed and determined to be “at risk of economic catastrophe (National Research, 2007)”.

Presidentai Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science


The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, is developed. It will give $10,000 prizes to the United States’ top 100 math and science teachers (Hechinger, 2011).

Nation at Risk


The Nation at Risk report is issued by the National Commission on Excellence in Education in order to serve as a wake-up call for the American people to put a higher importance on education so that American students will be able to compete globally (Hechinger, 2011).

Standards Based Reform

Approx. 1990 - Approx. 1998

standards-based reforms are initiated based off of the recommendation from the policy makers that high school graduation requirements in science and math needed to be improved in order to reach national goals (National Research, 2007).

Physics First


This movement pushes schools to teach physics instead of biology in order to create a more advanced understanding of biology and chemistry in subsequent years (Hechinger, 2011).

National Education Standards


The National Science Education Standards are developed by the National Research Council in order to set goals for students’ knowledge and assessment (Hechinger, 2011).

No Child Left Behind

Approx. 2001

No Child Left Behind Act is part of an education reform that requires schools to report test scores of all students and to work towards incremental improvements every year for all students (National Research, 2007).

No More Intelligent Design


A precedent is set in the Dover, Pa., that school boards cannot require a teacher to present the theory of “intelligent design” as an alternative to the theory of “evolution” due to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (Hechinger, 2011).

Nation Wide Science Testing


Legislation required science testing nationwide (National Research, 2007).