2007 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (28–31 October 2007)

Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 4:50 PM


SCOTCHMOOR, Judith G., Musuem of Paleontology, University of California, 1101 Valley Life Sciences Bldg. #4780, Berkeley, CA 94720-4780, jscotch@berkeley.edu

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. Given the impact of science on public life, we cannot afford to ignore a growing public confusion and complacency about and disengagement from science.

In response, efforts to re-engage the public in science are now emerging. These range from citizen science projects, to the burgeoning number of science cafes, to national coalitions and celebrations of science. In addition, there is recognition of the need to focus on the process of science in our teaching, emphasizing its iterative nature and the key elements that serve to “define” science.

The University of California Museum of Paleontology is responding to this need by developing a freely accessible website that will provide an accurate portrayal of the nature of science, as well as tools for teaching associated concepts. This project has at its heart a public re-engagement with science that begins with teacher preparation. To this end, its immediate goals are to (1) improve teacher understanding of the nature of the scientific enterprise and (2) provide resources and strategies that encourage and enable K-16 teachers to incorporate and reinforce the nature of science throughout their science teaching.