Science must become part of our culture's mainstream, not just the remote domain of a privileged few.
All students can understand and benefit from the insights of contemporary science, whether as future professional researchers, workers in high-technology careers, or as productive and informed citizens of an increasingly-complex technologically-advanced society.
Science education must involve the whole student, engaging emotions and imagination as well as intellect. Teachers are more effective, students feel more connected and competent, and learning is enhanced when science education is direct, experiential and hands-on.
Systemic reform of science education must alter traditional concepts of teaching and learning by empowering teachers as facilitators rather than lecturers from authorized texts, enlisting students as active participants in their own education, and providing interaction with the scientific and professional community as collaborators and mentors.
PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE shares the latest factual information and contexts within which to understand it, while developing positive attitudes towards the scientific process, and demonstrating and encouraging technical and research skills in accessing and comprehending the vast amounts of information which telecommunications and computers now make available. Simulations in class relate to and link with the real-world research presented on camera and on-line .
Integrated multimedia resources introduce students in schools and homes across America to the men and women who are working on exciting research frontiers. Though "virtual", these encounters with world-class scientists are made to feel personal. Students see creative scientists who are life-long learners, young at heart, open to new information, and whose challenging work is as rewarding as "play". These researchers serve as role models for life choices, as well as professional mentors in their specific disciplines. Their personal stories inspire youngsters by showing that what they learn while young can be a "passport" to a productive and rewarding career and life.
PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE empowers teachers and students to begin an ongoing process of individualized discovery by providing practical, flexible pathways, adaptable to the different levels of technology and training to be found in any school, home or science center. "Teacher-friendly" materials welcome first-time users, and more challenging online collaborations engage those with the capacity to become involved. This pyramid of options enables widespread participation, and minimizes the effects of inequality of resources. New technologies are introduced through project-related activities which deliver immediate, practical learning experiences, rather than abstract training.
PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE is informed by the suggestions of the national science reform panels, the national science standards, and state guidelines and frameworks, and provides "replacement modules" which can serve as readily-integrated "plug and play" units in the existing curriculum.
As an ongoing series of Modules, PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE will enable teachers to build on previous experiences, and implement succeeding Modules with increasing effectiveness. Educators will "cache" successful teaching strategies, and apply this positive feedback loop to the new content of each new field trip.
Believing that science should be experienced as both "content" and "process", PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE will develop and implement assessment tools to measure student learning outcomes. These will assess growth in positive attitudes and development of skills, as well as increasing mastery of content.
PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE focuses on the continuing enterprise of scientific research and exploration and not the achievements of individual adventurers and expeditions. It collaborates with the nation's leading science agencies (principally NASA and NSF) and university-based researchers, and presents ongoing activities in which students may envisage themselves playing a role in the future. Research itself is the adventure.
The core PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE team serves as conductor for a large and evolving orchestra of individual research agencies and scientists, teachers and students, schools, science centers and home-schoolers, articulating and amplifying the grand theme of humanity's ever-increasing understanding of the world and its processes of growth and change.
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