2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM



, frodeman@unt.edu

The National Science Digital Library (NSDL) is a pioneering NSF effort to create new learning environments and resources for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education at all levels: K-12, undergraduate, graduate, and life-long learning. But as we know from experience and science education research has confirmed, scientific knowledge does not apply itself to society. It needs the help of contexts — historical, social, ethical, and policy-oriented.

In a few instances, NSDL collections do include historical or societal context components. What nevertheless deserves enhancement in the current NSDL framework are broadly framed, interdisciplinary, and crosscutting collections of vetted materials on a wide spectrum of issues at the intersection of science and society.

This presentation discusses recent efforts by the presenter and others at creating such a collection: a K-12 effort in Boulder, Colorado, known as the Flatirons Outdoor Classroom Project, and a recent NSDL proposal called CONTEXTS, which seeks to place the sciences and engineering in their larger historical, policy, and philosophical contexts.

As the NRC science standards note, “An important purpose of science education is to give students a means to understand and act on personal and social issues [and to] help students develop decision-making skills” (NRC 1996). Such efforts will enable both scientists and non-scientists to better collaborate in integrating scientific and engineering knowledge with social science and humanities perspectives for increased scientific literacy and thus more informed decision-making. Moreover, this will provide new ways for currently underrepresented groups to learn about science, technology, and engineering.