Frequently Asked Questions
What is ScienceEducation.gov?
ScienceEducation.gov is a web-based gateway unifying thousands of Federal science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education resources. Users can access Federal STEM education resources from a single query, tag, comment, and rate material using social networking capabilities. In addition, all resources are automatically tagged by average grade level. Content includes lesson plans, curricula, classroom activities, homework help and information relating to professional development.
What are Federal science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education resources?
Federal STEM education resources are resources provided by Federal science education organizations. Each Federal organization is responsible for their content.
What are “partner” resources?
Partner resources are STEM education resources that may be supported at least in part by non-federal organizations.
What makes ScienceEducation.gov unique from other government STEM education portals?
ScienceEducation.gov virtually integrates the STEM education resources of the federal government to make them all every-word searchable via a single query. The unique benefits of ScienceEducation.gov include:
(1) One-stop access to Federal STEM education content.
Users no longer need to know which agency offers the educational resource they need or know the web address of any agency's collection.
Users do not need to individually search education collections at each agency; nor do they need to sort through multiple hit lists from the various agencies. Using ScienceEducation.gov, users can discover relevant education resources at a particular agency, then “click through” and reach the source or the material.
(2) Grade level stratification.
Users will not need to sift through results to narrow by an applicable grade range.
The determination of grade level appropriateness of STEM content is identified and placed into average grade ranges. See below for How is the assigned average grade level determined? Users can sort findings accordingly, which helps save time in determining content appropriate for their needs.
Note that the grade range is flexible and can be changed through ScienceEducation.gov's tagging process.
(3) Social interaction and community focus.
ScienceEducation.gov is more than a place to retrieve STEM education resources and information. Using a Web 2.0 platform, users can participate and share organization strategy (tagging) and first-hand comments and ratings of the STEM education resources offered by the Federal government.
Through tagging resources, rating and commenting, users can share insight and applicable professional and personal experiences and opinions with the public.
Why do we need ScienceEducation.gov?
No other site makes the STEM education resources of the Federal government every-word searchable via a single query. ScienceEducation.gov introduces searchability at the object level. ScienceEducation.gov offers grade level stratification and embraces Web 2.0 features such as crowd sourcing that are championed by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
Achieving such an ambitious goal in an affordable manner has only recently become technologically possible. ScienceEducation.gov does not copy any agency's educational offerings; it is not a data warehouse. Rather, ScienceEducation.gov uses special real-time, content integration technology and relevance ranking proven by Science.gov, which virtually integrates the R&D results of the federal government. In July, Government Computer News named Science.gov one of the government's top ten websites.
Can anyone use ScienceEducation.gov?
Yes, the site is available for use by the public at two levels.
Anonymous users are free to access the site, use the materials and perform a unified search of the vast stores of education information. They also have the benefit of relevancy ranking of the materials, “clustering” (grouping of results into meaningful topics) and stratified resources. Anonymous users cannot tag, comment, or rate resources.
Registration is free. Registered users, i.e., members, of the site can actively enhance the site by “tagging” (assigning a name or term associated with or assigned to a piece of information); providing content, media, or data knowledge; providing general guidance and comments on the resources and rate the materials on the site. Members also have access to social media resources related to the site.
How does ScienceEducation.gov work?
The portal is an online STEM education tool that virtually integrates Federal agency online educational materials to make them searchable via a single query. ScienceEducation.gov provides grade appropriate search results (kindergarten through college, with an emphasis on K-12) by stratifying resources by average grade level and Federal agency. Search results are useful for a diverse audience (students, teachers, parents). Users are encouraged to participate by tagging resources and providing comments.
What are the benefits of ScienceEducation.gov?
Benefits include the ability to search across multiple Federal agency STEM education resources and view resources based on an estimated grade range. In addition, by way of a web–based participatory platform, educators and students can share viewpoints and tag resources to make them easier to find.
How does commenting work?
Registered users, i.e., members, may comment on materials found at ScienceEducation.gov. Comments by educators, parents and students help ensure credibility of materials and improve the website.
To address concerns of accuracy and bias, guidelines are accepted when a user becomes a member by registering. Comments will be reviewed against these guidelines to ensure that comments are appropriate. Users can rate material and will be encouraged to write a comment relative to each rating.
What is a tag?
A tag is like a keyword or category label. For ScienceEducation.gov, tags can be assigned to resources using pre-determined tags. Users cannot create their own individual tags at this time; however, this is a possible future enhancement.
Why are tags important?
Tags are important because they can help you find ScienceEducation.gov resources. Think of a tag like a keyword, or label, that has been assigned to a resource. For example, let’s say that you find a resource that discusses how to measure one’s ecological footprint. This resource may be a lesson plan, a classroom activity or maybe homework help. Adding your own tags will help you find the resource later.
When I tag, what happens to my tags, and can I edit or delete tags I assign?
When a registered user tags a resource, their tags are saved and displayed by the resource so that others can see the tag. As a registered user, if you tag a resource, your tag can be deleted by you, but not by others. If you no longer wish to participate, through membership, you will not be able to tag, but your tags will be retained as part of the ScienceEducation.gov record.
How are tags different from metadata?
Tags are like metadata in the sense that tags provide information (keywords) about the information. When a tag is assigned to a resource, it is “tagged” to the web page. Then, later, you can search on your tag and that resource would be returned as part of your search result.
How does ScienceEducation.gov organize its content?
ScienceEducation.gov (beta version) has organized its results, initially, by agency and average grade level. However, as tags are applied, the organization of the information improves.
Through membership, users can identify information about the content through, tagging, which will group content enhancing the search. ScienceEducation.gov currently has 3 core categories for tagging: content type, science subject, and grade range. Each category offers users a level of granularity that would apply to the STEM education content found at ScienceEducation.gov.
How is the assigned average grade level determined?
Average grade levels are determined using learning level stratification, a technology resulting from a DOE Small Business and Innovative Research (SBIR) grant. This research resulted in development of a classification tool that determines grade level appropriateness of STEM topics through comparison with state education standards. Using this learning level stratification tool, ScienceEducation.gov resources are examined and an estimated grade range is assigned to each. This helps users know the grade appropriateness of the resource they have found.
How did ScienceEducation.gov come about?
ScienceEducation.gov began as a Department of Energy (DOE) Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists (WDTS) initiative to make DOE STEM education material easily accessible. The Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) led the development of a pilot during 2007. While ScienceEducation.gov was being developed, it became apparent that a federalized approach, where STEM education resources from leading science and technology agencies could be accessed via one query, would help meet the nation’s education goals. Further, using new research in the area of learning level stratification, Federal agencies and the public could benefit from applying the technology across Federal agency STEM resources.
Throughout 2008-09, OSTI organized a series of briefings with Federal science and technology agencies to gauge their level of interest in pursuing this approach to ScienceEducation.gov. Interagency interest was overwhelming.
Leading S&T agencies have since voluntarily formed the Interagency Science Education Portal Coordinating Group (ISEPCG) which governs ScienceEducation.gov.
Why Federal STEM resources?
Science agencies across the federal government each host a rich collection of STEM resources. However, prior to ScienceEducation.gov, there was no collaboration to make these resources more transparent and accessible to educators, classrooms and the public. By unifying the STEM resources of the federal government and making them accessible via one query and within a participatory platform, ScienceEducation.gov meets the Obama Administration’s commitment to achieving an unprecedented level of openness in Government.
Who is responsible for the ScienceEducation.gov resources?
Each of the federal agencies who have contributed STEM education resources authorize use of their content. The content is not collected into a data warehouse; rather the ScienceEducation.gov virtually integrates the STEM education web-based resources of federal science agencies, enabling students, teachers and other users to search every word of all those resources via a single query. 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.
How can I submit a resource?
If you are a federal agency, and wish to have your STEM education resources integrated into ScienceEducation.gov, please Contact Us.
Why is it important to create ScienceEducation.gov?
Enhancing American competitiveness in science and technology by improving STEM education in the United States is a national priority. The National Science Board’s National Action Plan for Addressing the Critical Needs of the U.S. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education System states:
“To meet the Nation’s demands for a numerate and technologically and scientifically literate workforce, the U.S. needs a nationally coherent STEM education system. Coherence in STEM education means coordination of what, when, and to whom STEM subjects are taught – both horizontally among states and vertically across grade levels from pre-K through the first years of college or vocational school. To ensure this coherence, the Board recommends the nationwide dissemination and implementation of best educational practices based on world-class research and national experience.”
The impact of a coherent and robust STEM education system cannot be overstated, and is critical if the United States is to maintain a high quality of life for citizens and ensure that Americans remain competitive in international science and technology progress.
ScienceEducation.gov can help meet the critical need of a comprehensive STEM education for all students across the nation. Because ScienceEducation.gov integrates material from across the Federal government, users – students, parents and educators – can conduct extensive searches via a single query with results tailored to the user’s need(s).
DOE began working toward a searchable portal of education resources available from DOE programs and national laboratories in response to a call in the America COMPETES Act for web-based STEM education resources. Many other Federal agencies have taken steps. The next logical step is to virtually integrate our resources into a unified website that will support cyber-learning and participation.
ScienceEducation.gov is the first website to unify STEM resources from the Federal government’s science and technology agencies. The site’s focus is on virtual integration of STEM education and is aimed at a diverse audience including education professionals, students, parents and the general public. Resources are varied, but are stratified by grade level. Content includes lesson plans, curricula, classroom activities, homework help and information relating to professional development. ScienceEducation.gov makes it possible to visit just one website to obtain information from multiple resources via a single query within seconds – and for free.