ScienceEducation.gov (beta version) is the unification of federal science agencies’ science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education content, supporting cyber-learning and open participation.
Educators, students, and the public can go to ScienceEducation.gov and conveniently find via a single query and use (for free) the STEM education offerings of several leading science and technology agencies. The content of ScienceEducation.gov is stratified by grade level and includes lesson plans, curricula, classroom activities, homework help and professional development information.
At ScienceEducation.gov, over 35,000 web pages of STEM content can be accessed.
Purpose of ScienceEducation.gov
Enhancing American competitiveness in science and technology by improving STEM education is a U.S. priority. In response to the 2007 America COMPETES Act call for web-based STEM education resources, the Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists (WDTS) in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, in partnership with the DOE Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI), began developing a searchable portal of STEM education resources available from DOE programs and national laboratories. Other federal agencies have taken similar steps. ScienceEducation.gov (beta version) is the logical next step in the world of Web 2.0.
ScienceEducation.gov is the result of a voluntary interagency collaboration of several U.S. government science and technology federal organizations working together to make STEM education resources more transparent and open to public participation.
ScienceEducation.gov is committed to serving the STEM education information needs of educators, teachers, students, and other education professionals.
Content in ScienceEducation.gov
Federal agencies are collaborating to share STEM education resources they have created. Each agency authorizes use of its content. The content is not collected into a data warehouse; rather the ScienceEducation.gov portal virtually integrates the STEM education resources of federal science agencies and enables students, teachers and other users to search every word of all those resources via a single query.
Initially the following agencies have contributed content for the beta version:
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration
- National Institutes of Health
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- U.S. Department of Agriculture
- U.S. Department of Energy
Over time, it is anticipated that additional federal science agencies will contribute their STEM education resources to the portal.
In addition, a ScienceEducation.gov member agency may endorse the content of another entity (such as a scientific professional society or a national teachers association) for inclusion on the portal. A member agency that adds third-party offerings, or partner resources, is responsible for that content.
Public Participation in ScienceEducation.gov
The website employs social networking software specifically designed to encourage participation by the education community. ScienceEducation.gov is intended to be an interactive forum that will benefit from the participation of its members (registered users).
In addition to searching, these features are open to all users:
- Find upcoming events from leading educator organizations
- Filter results by agency and average grade range
- Align resources to average grade ranges
- Read science education news articles from various sources
In addition, members of the ScienceEducation.gov community can tag content by (1) science subject (2) grade range and (3) content type. The more members tag content, the more refined their results list will become. Participation through membership in the ScienceEducation.gov community provides an opportunity to use educators' expertise to improve the website. Members may also rate and comment on resources to help improve the site for the education community.
Because the portal’s materials will be used to improve STEM education, a high level of trust must be maintained in the content of ScienceEducation.gov. Member federal agencies are responsible for the site’s content but also seek to engage users in helping to improve the site – and in a manner that respects individual privacy.
Individuals who register and become members may comment on materials on ScienceEducation.gov. As part of the registration process, users are required to accept certain guidelines for comments and rating, and members’ submissions are reviewed against these guidelines to ensure their appropriateness (see the registration guidelines and form).
Organization of ScienceEducation.gov Content
ScienceEducation.gov content is organized in at least two ways: (1) by the agency providing the content and (2) by the approximate grade range of the content. To sort its offerings by grade range, Science.Education.gov employs new grade-level stratification technology with each document assigned a grade range based on the grade levels of the science concepts it uses or teaches. Because different states teach STEM education topics in different grades, ScienceEducation.gov content is sorted according to a national average grade level based on when core concepts are taught in three representative states, California, Texas and Virginia.
ScienceEducation.gov’s members may add categories for STEM subjects, the education object of content and its grade range. Eventually, ScienceEducation.gov may also sort by science subjects or tags, such as engineering, computer science, chemistry, climate, earth sciences, energy, environmental sciences, life sciences, materials, mathematics, nanotechnology, nuclear sciences, physical sciences, physics, general science and space sciences.
In addition, ScienceEducation.gov content may also be organized by such educational objects or content types as games and interactive activities; onsite events, tours and demonstrations; science bowls, science fairs and field trips; internships, fellowships and scholarships; lesson plans and curricula; reference materials including links to resources, publications and “Ask A” services; professional development, conferences, symposia, seminars and workshops; career, job opportunities; Frequently Asked Questions and contacts at the federal agencies and other participating organizations.
In developing the tags for ScienceEducation.gov content over time, the portal’s member agencies are taking into account the tags they each currently use for their respective content; the tags recommended by a number of Einstein Fellows (http://www.trianglecoalition.org/ein.htm); the tags employed by the science education programs at the DOE national laboratories; the extensive experience of DOE’s Office of Scientific and Technical Information in organizing and categorizing scientific and technical information; and current Administration priorities for open government systems with greater public participation. As members contribute comments, the tagging can and will be quickly upgraded by the site’s social networking capabilities.
Operation of the Website
The ScienceEducation.gov website is hosted by the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) in partnership with the DOE Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists (WDTS).
For more information, see Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Check for new information and new sites added frequently to ScienceEducation.gov.