Building Awareness for Science Education
The Smithsonian Science Education Center works collaboratively with communities across the globe to improve the teaching and learning of STEM. Building Awareness for Science Education (BASE) is the first step in this collaborative process.
Building Awareness programs inform and raise awareness about inquiry-based science education and engage educators along with government leaders, industry, and community stakeholders.
Building Awareness programs are half-day or full-day programs, and engage participants to learn about our Center and our work, and usually one specific piece of the SSEC’s work, like the LASER model or Smithsonian’s STEM Education for Sustainable Development.(hyperlink to STEM Education for ESD page) These programs are designed to excite key individuals and organizations in a community. Each event is organized in collaboration with local partners, customized to the community it is held in, and the sessions are curated to best serve the audience present.
What happens at a Building Awareness program?
Building Awareness is an opportunity for a community to come to know and understand the work of the Smithsonian Science Education Center, and the philosophies that underly our work. It is also an opportunity for the SSEC to come to better understand of a region or community, and what goals they have for the future of the project.
2. Building Foundational Knowledge
Before the SSEC begins working anywhere, whether a short-term project or a years long initiative, it is important that all stakeholders understand why inquiry-based science education is effective and how it benefits students both today and in the future. All of the work of the SSEC is built on knowledge of research and best practices of how students learn, science education, and the scientific disciplines. It is important that Building Awareness participants understand why and how we carry out our work, and how it leads to increased student achievement.
3. Developing a Shared Vision
Participants at a Building Awareness program take the time to think constructively about what their shared future of science education looks like in their community. This piece of Building Awareness usually involves adults taking part in a shared, hands-on experience to help them better understand students’ experience of inquiry-based education. A shared vision for science education is best created when a community comes together to identify and take ownership of the vision, and the SSEC helps to facilitate this process.
4. Creating Community
Through a Building Awareness program, the SSEC and local partners set the foundation for a regional community of professionals committed to improving education for all students. This is one of the greatest advantages of gathering stakeholders together for Building Awareness, because it creates a local network within the community.
Is BASE right for my community?
Building Awareness events are targeted at people who have the capacity to make lasting change in an area’s science education system, which includes but is not limited to school district leaders, school-level leadership, state and local government, community stakeholders including parents, business and community leaders, and representatives from higher education institutions in the community.
If you are not yet ready for a Building Awareness program to launch one of the SSEC’s initiatives in your community, consider putting together a team to attend the SSEC’s annual Smithsonian Science Leadership Development & Strategic Planning Institute in Washington, DC.
If you are planning to implement a program or initiative from the SSEC long-term, a Building Awareness program may be the perfect way to start. Please send an inquiry email to: ScienceEducation@si.edu Attn: Katherine Blanchard and include details of your planned implementation, and desired Building Awareness event. You will be contacted by the SSEC.