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Science  29 Aug 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6200, pp. 1012-1015
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6200.1012

29 August 2014

Edited by Kathy Wren

Before the Common Core, There Was Science for All Americans

The landmark AAAS book continues to influence education reform 25 years after it defined the concept of science literacy

George De Boer and Jo Ellen Roseman of Project 2061, which is named for the return of Halley's Comet, a nod to the program's long-term focus


Many of the debates swirling around states' adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards have a distinctly 21st century feel. But at the heart of these efforts lies an ambitious AAAS book published 25 years ago that was the first to articulate what the next generation should know and be able to do in science, mathematics, and technology.

Today, education experts agree that Science for All Americans—a 3-year collaboration among hundreds of scientists, mathematicians, and other scholars—has had a significant impact on science education reform, by helping to define the concept of science literacy and lay the groundwork for national education standards in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

More than 40 states and the District of Columbia have now adopted the Common Core standards for math and English, and 12 states plus the District have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards. A nationwide consensus on whether these standards will significantly improve STEM education remains elusive, but many educators and other STEM experts nonetheless embrace the idea of a set of shared goals to guide the teaching of all U.S. students. Such a vision was initially laid out in 1989, when AAAS' Project 2061 published Science for All Americans.

"It's often forgotten, but it's this book that got it all going and just pervades everything else," said George De Boer, deputy director of Project 2061.

Science for All Americans was the first major publication from Project 2061, then a fledgling program headed by James Rutherford, former assistant director of the National Science Foundation and assistant secretary of education at the U.S. Department of Education. At the time, federal enthusiasm for improving STEM education, which had spiked after the Soviet Union's launch of the Sputnik satellite, had waned. And Rutherford felt he had seen too many education reform efforts fail to achieve a lasting impact.

"That's when it occurred to me that what was wrong with our whole approach was that it was too short term," Rutherford said. "We're a big, complicated country. It's going to take time to turn things around. I decided we needed to have some kind of statement saying, 'Here are the understandings and skills of science that we'd like all people to have.' "

In the last two decades, the National Research Council and other organizations have also developed STEM education standards. But, it was Science for All Americans that first marked a clear departure from the previous era, according to Jo Ellen Roseman, director of Project 2061.

"The post-Sputnik science education reform was really about preparing the next generation of scientists," she said. "Science for All Americans took a new position on science literacy, which was that everyone needs some level of science knowledge and habits of mind so that when reading about a scientific report in the newspaper, for example, one would think about it in a more critical way."

To launch the project, Rutherford and his associate director, Andrew "Chick" Ahlgren, convened panels of scientists, mathematicians, engineers, physicians, philosophers, historians, and educators, and tasked them with identifying the most important STEM concepts for students to master by the time they graduated high school.

These discussions formed the basis for Science for All Americans, which emphasized the interdependence of STEM fields, the importance of key concepts and principles of science, the diversity and unity of the natural world, and the need to use scientific knowledge and ways of thinking to benefit the individual and society.

The book was followed 4 years later by the AAAS report Benchmarks for Science Literacy, which specifies how students should progress toward these goals as they move through successive grade levels.

"What James Rutherford and Chick Algren did was pare things down and focus the content on the really big ideas. The second thing they did was use language that was very clear and not overly technical," said Rodger Bybee, a writing team leader for the Next Generation Science Standards. "Those are the types of things that we also tried to do in the new standards."

"I especially liked the theme in Science for All Americans that less detail and rote memorization is better,'" said Gil Omenn, who was a member of the initial Project 2061 council and is now a professor of internal medicine, human genetics, and public health at the University of Michigan and the director of the UM Center for Computational Medicine & Bioinformatics. Omenn, who also served as AAAS president, noted that Project 2061 continued in this direction with a series of textbook evaluations that helped publishers reduce jargon and introduce terms more meaningfully.

Today, Project 2061 is helping teachers implement the Next Generation Science Standards through workshops that offer tools, resources, and strategies based on Science for All Americans, Benchmarks for Science Literacy, and the related Atlas of Science Literacy.

Brain Signaling May Be Next Target of Autism Treatment

In a break with tradition, researchers look to reverse the disorder's neurological causes.

More public awareness and better diagnoses may partly explain the recent increase in autism cases, said Catherine Lord.


Experts agree that early behavioral intervention is the preferred first line of treatment for autism, but some speakers at a recent Capitol Hill briefing suggested that drugs that affect brain signaling may be among future therapies.

The traditional view has been that drug treatments cannot change or cure autism's underlying neurological disorder, said Diane Chugani, professor of pediatrics at Wayne State University and director of the Translational Imaging Laboratory at Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit. However, animal studies suggest that there may be ways to reverse neurological deficits associated with autism-related disorders such as Rett syndrome and tuberous sclerosis complex, she said, and there could be common neurochemical features associated with many genes implicated in autism.

Chugani and other scientists discussed advances in the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at a well-attended 17 July briefing, which drew about 50 congressional staffers and members of the public. The briefing was hosted by AAAS through the support of the Dana Foundation in conjunction with Rep. Chaka Fattah (D–Pa.).

Future ASD drugs might target the neurochemical messengers that are released at the brain's synapses, the small gaps at the ends of neighboring neurons where signals are transmitted from one cell to another. Chugani has done positron emission tomography (PET) studies of serotonin synthesis in children with autism and has found differences in developmental changes in serotonin synthesis in the brains of young autistic children compared to nonautistic children. Based upon these results, she and her colleagues conducted a clinical trial on a drug called buspirone that mimics serotonin in young autistic children, and are pursuing further testing on its effects.

The emerging understanding of how genetic variability affects the synapses and communication among brain cells should prove to be "a rich source of new drug treatments for ASD," Chugani said. She predicted that genetic testing, use of biomarkers in the blood, and brain imaging methods will help clinicians determine which treatments are most appropriate for individuals with autism at different stages of their development. "I think we are on the threshold of some very interesting results," Chugani said.

Catherine Lord, director of the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University Medical Center, was more guarded in her outlook. "We don't have any biological markers," she said. "We have a lively, interesting, wonderful background of neuroscience that is moving forward, but it has basically had no practical result, I would say, in the last 20 years."

Chugani said that early use of intensive behavioral therapy remains the current standard of care and must be made available to all children with autism spectrum disorders. There remains a need for faster, more effective screening of children, according to Lord, and active, early involvement by parents is essential. "We can do a very good job" of diagnosis, she said, but it requires time and input from both the parents and skilled clinicians.


AAAS Annual Election: Preliminary Announcement

The 2014 AAAS election of general and section officers is scheduled to begin in October. All members will receive a ballot for election of the president-elect, members of the Board of Directors, and members of the Committee on Nominations. Members registered in sections will receive ballots for elections for each section (up to three) they are enrolled in.

Candidates for section elections are listed below. Candidates for the general election will appear in the September issue of News & Notes. Additional names may be placed in nomination for any office by petition submitted to the Chief Executive Officer no later than 24 September 2014. Petitions nominating candidates for president-elect, members of the Board, or members of the Committee on Nominations must bear the signatures of at least 100 members of the association. Petitions nominating candidates for any section office must bear the signatures of at least 50 members of the section. A petition to place an additional name in nomination for any office must be accompanied by the nominee's curriculum vitae and statement of acceptance of nomination. Biographical information for the following candidates will be enclosed with the ballots sent to members.


Agriculture, Food, and Renewable Resources
Chair Elect: Steven C. Huber, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Harry J. Klee, Univ. of Florida
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Blake C. Meyers, Univ. of Delaware; Johanna Schmitt, Univ. of California, Davis
Electorate Nominating Committee: Lisa Durso, USDA-ARS; Peggy Ozias-Akins, Univ. of Georgia; Amanda D. Rodewald, Cornell Univ.; Roger Philip Wise, USDA-ARS/Iowa State Univ.
Council Delegate: Jim Giovannoni, USDA-ARS/ Cornell Univ.; Neelima Roy Sinha, Univ. of California, Davis
Chair Elect: Steven R. Leigh, Univ. of Colorado Boulder; Dennis H. O'Rourke, Univ. of Utah
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Joanna E. Lambert, Univ. of Texas at San Antonio; Dawnie Wolfe Steadman, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville
Electorate Nominating Committee: Yolanda T. Moses, Univ. of California, Riverside; Peter Neal Peregrine, Lawrence Univ.; J. Josh Snodgrass, Univ. of Oregon; Anne C. Stone, Arizona State Univ.
Chair Elect: Joan Centrella, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Debra Meloy Elmegreen, Vassar College
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: James M. Cordes, Cornell Univ.; Henry C. Ferguson, Space Telescope Science Institute
Electorate Nominating Committee: Harriet L. Dinerstein, Univ. of Texas at Austin; Steven M. Kahn, Stanford Univ.; Nancy A. Levenson, Gemini Observatory; Sylvain Veilleux, Univ. of Maryland, College Park
Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Sciences
Chair Elect: Jack A. Kaye, NASA; Don Wuebbles, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Carol Arnosti, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Ronald C. Cohen, Univ. of California, Berkeley/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Electorate Nominating Committee: Chris E. Forest, Pennsylvania State Univ.; Alexander Pszenny, NASA; James M. Russell, Brown Univ.; Howard Joe Witte, Adnet Systems, Inc./NASA
Biological Sciences
Chair Elect: Pamela C. Ronald, Univ. of California, Davis; Venkatesan Sundaresan, Univ. of California, Davis
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Sarah M. (Sally) Assmann, Pennsylvania State Univ.; Craig S. Pikaard, Indiana Univ.
Electorate Nominating Committee: David A. Baum, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison; Evan E. Eichler, Univ. of Washington; N. Louise Glass, Univ. of California, Berkeley; Kenneth Keegstra, Michigan State Univ./DOE Plant Research Laboratory
Chair Elect: Carol J. Burns, Los Alamos National Laboratory; Peter C. Ford, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Seth M. Cohen, Univ. of California, San Diego; Michael P. Doyle, Univ. of Maryland, College Park
Electorate Nominating Committee: Joanna Aizenberg, Harvard Univ.; Stephanie L. Brock, Wayne State Univ.; William R. Montfort, Univ. of Arizona; Martin Moskovits, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara
Dentistry and Oral Health Sciences
Chair Elect: Jacques E. Nör, Univ. of Michigan; Susan Reisine, Univ. of Connecticut
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Matthew P. Hoffman, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research/NIH; Stefan Ruhl, Univ. of Buffalo SUNY
Electorate Nominating Committee: Rena N. D'Souza, Univ. of Utah; Laurie K. McCauley, Univ. of Michigan; James E. Melvin, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research/NIH; Michael L. Paine, Univ. of Southern California
Chair Elect: Deborah Allen, Univ. of Delaware; Cathy Middlecamp, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Tammy M. Long, Michigan State Univ.; Catherine Milne, New York Univ.
Electorate Nominating Committee: Adam P. Fagen, Genetics Society of America; Claire A. Hemingway, National Science Foundation; M. Patricia Morse, Northeastern Univ.; James J. Smith, Michigan State Univ.
Chair Elect: Michael D. Amiridis, Univ. of South Carolina; Larry V. McIntire, Georgia Tech
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Jeffrey J. Chalmers, Ohio State Univ.; Lance Collins, Cornell Univ.
Electorate Nominating Committee: Panos J. Antsaklis, Univ. of Notre Dame; Carol K. Hall, North Carolina State Univ.; Umit S. Ozkan, Ohio State Univ.; H. Vincent Poor, Princeton Univ.; Ramamoorthy Ramesh, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Rice Univ.
Council Delegate: Mark A. Barteau, Univ. of Michigan; Stuart L. Cooper, Ohio State Univ.; Debasish (Deba) Dutta, Purdue Univ.; Molly Sandra Shoichet, Univ. of Toronto (Canada)
General Interest in Science and Engineering
Chair Elect: Bruce V. Lewenstein, Cornell Univ.; Cristine Russell, Harvard Univ.
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Andy Boyles, Highlights for Children, Inc.; David F. Salisbury, Vanderbilt Univ.of Science, Boston; Carol L. Rogers, Univ. of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism
Electorate Nominating Committee: Beryl Lieff Benderly, Science Careers/Prism Magazine; Sharon Dunwoody, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison; A'ndrea Elyse Messer, Pennsylvania State Univ.; Ginger Pinholster, AAAS
Geology and Geography
Chair Elect: Kevin P. Furlong, Pennsylvania State Univ.; Philip D. Gingerich, Univ. of Michigan
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Paul H. Glaser, Univ. of Minnesota; Arthur I. Zygielbaum, Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln
Electorate Nominating Committee: Mary L. Droser, Univ. of California, Riverside; John Harrington Jr., Kansas State Univ.; Jean-Bernard H. Minster, Univ. of California, San Diego; Sarah L. Shafer, U.S. Geological Survey
History and Philosophy of Science
Chair Elect: Janet Browne, Harvard Univ.; additional candidate to be announced
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Hanne Andersen, Aarhus Univ. (Denmark); Janet D. Stemwedel, San Jose State Univ.
Electorate Nominating Committee: Robert (Jay) Malone, Univ. of Notre Dame/History of Science Society; Michael A. Osborne, Oregon State Univ.; Jason Robert, Arizona State Univ.; James Woodward, Univ. of Pittsburgh
Council Delegate: Frederick Grinnell, Univ. of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; Chris Young, Alverno College
Industrial Science and Technology
Chair Elect: Katharine Blodgett Gebbie, National Institute of Standards and Technology; William Tumas, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Sudarsanam Suresh Babu, Univ. of Tennessee at Knoxville; William D. Provine, DuPont
Electorate Nominating Committee: Hideaki Kasai, Osaka Univ. (Japan); Laura Privalle, Bayer CropScience; Proctor Reid, National Academy of Engineering; Kevin C. Reilly, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center; Fei-Yue Wang, Chinese Academy of Sciences/Beijing Engineering Research Center (China)
Council Delegates: Cammy R. Abernathy, Univ. of Florida; Frances M. Ross, IBM Research
Information, Computing, and Communication
Chair Elect: Joseph Halpern, Cornell Univ.; Jeannette Wing, Microsoft/Carnegie Mellon Univ.
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Nancy Amato, Texas A&M Univ.; Randy Howard Katz, Univ. of California, Berkeley
Electorate Nominating Committee: Jeffrey Dean, Google, Inc.; Peter Fox, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Phokion G. Kolaitis, Univ. of California, Santa Cruz/IBM Almaden Research Center; Manuela M. Veloso, Carnegie Mellon Univ.
Linguistics and Language Science
Chair Elect: Jennifer Cole, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Johanna Nichols, Univ. of California, Berkeley
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: William J. Idsardi, Univ. of Maryland, College Park; Maria Polinsky, Harvard Univ.
Electorate Nominating Committee: Jonathan David Bobaljik, Univ. of Connecticut; Dan Jurafsky, Stanford Univ.; Angelika Kratzer, Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst; Nan Bernstein Ratner, Univ. of Maryland, College Park
Chair Elect: Eric M. Friedlander, Univ. of Southern California; William Yslas Vélez, Univ. of Arizona
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Luís M. A. Bettencourt, Santa Fe Institute; Jack Xin, Univ. of California, Irvine
Electorate Nominating Committee: L. Pamela (Pam) Cook, Univ. of Delaware; Lloyd E. Douglas, Independent Consultant; Joceline Lega, Univ. of Arizona; Philippe Tondeur, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Medical Sciences
Chair Elect: Harry B. Greenberg, Stanford Univ. School of Medicine; Gregory A. Petsko, Weill Cornell Medical College/Cornell University
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Barbara J. McNeil, Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School; Anil K. Rustgi, Univ. of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Electorate Nominating Committee: Nancy C. Andrews, Duke Univ.; Paul A. Insel, Univ. of California, San Diego; Mary E. Klotman, Duke University School of Medicine; JoAnn E. Manson, Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School
Council Delegate: Jeffrey S. Chamberlain, Univ. of Washington; Garrett A. FitzGerald, Univ. of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine; Anna Di Gregorio, Weill Cornell Medical College; Charles M. Rice, Rockefeller Univ.; Andrew I. Schafer, Weill Cornell Medical College; Licia Selleri, Weill Cornell Medical College; Roy L. Silverstein, Medical College of Wisconsin; Dudley K. Strickland, Univ. of Maryland School of Medicine
Chair Elect: Darwin K. Berg, Univ. of California, San Diego; Don W. Cleveland, Univ. of California, San Diego/Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Gail D. Burd, Univ. of Arizona; Diane Lipscombe, Brown Univ.
Electorate Nominating Committee: Robert E. Burke, Columbia Univ.; Leslie C. Griffith, Brandeis Univ.; John Huguenard, Stanford Univ. School of Medicine; Lori L. Isom, Univ. of Michigan Medical School
Pharmaceutical Sciences
Chair Elect: Serrine S. Lau, Univ. of Arizona; Peter Wipf, Univ. of Pittsburgh
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Gunda I. Georg, Univ. of Minnesota; Swati Nagar, Temple Univ.
Electorate Nominating Committee: Jeffrey Aubé, Univ. of Kansas; Amy M. Barrios, Univ. of Utah; James C. Barrow, Johns Hopkins Univ. School of Medicine/Lieber Institute for Brain Development; Gary O. Rankin, Marshall Univ.
Chair Elect:Greg Boebinger, Florida State Univ./Univ. of Florida; Harrison B. Prosper, Florida State Univ.
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Lynn R. Cominsky, Sonoma State Univ.; Young-Kee Kim, Univ. of Chicago
Electorate Nominating Committee: Angel E. García, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Gail G. Hanson, Univ. of California, Riverside; M. Cristina Marchetti, Syracuse Univ.; E. Ward Plummer, Louisiana State Univ
Chair Elect: John Gabrieli, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Barbara Landau, Johns Hopkins Univ.
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Sian L. Beilock, Univ. of Chicago; Randi C. Martin, Rice Univ.
Electorate Nominating Committee: Susan A. Gelman, Univ. of Michigan; Dedre Gentner, Northwestern Univ.; Steven J. Luck, Univ. of California, Davis; Jeremy M. Wolfe, Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School
Council Delegate: David A. Rosenbaum, Pennsylvania State Univ.; Michael K. Tanenhaus, Univ. of Rochester
Social, Economic, and Political Sciences
Chair Elect: Ann Bostrom, Univ. of Washington; Henry E. Brady, Univ. of California, Berkeley
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Guillermina Jasso, New York Univ.; Walter R. Mebane, Univ. of Michigan
Electorate Nominating Committee: Mathew D. McCubbins, Duke Univ./Duke Law School; Melvin L. Oliver, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara; Stanley Presser, Univ. of Maryland, College Park; Gary Sandefur, Oklahoma State Univ.
Council Delegate: Thomas Dietz, Michigan State Univ.; Paula Stephan, Georgia State Univ.
Societal Impacts of Science and Engineering
Chair Elect: David Goldston, Natural Resources Defense Council; Jane Maienschein, Arizona State Univ.
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Kevin Finneran, National Academies; Anne Fitzpatrick, U.S. Department of Energy
Electorate Nominating Committee: Cathleen A. Campbell, CRDF Global; Edward G. Derrick, AAAS; Anne-Marie Carroll Mazza, National Academy of Sciences; Julia A. Moore, Pew Charitable Trusts
Chair Elect: Nicholas P. Jewell, Univ. of California, Berkeley; Vijay Nair, Univ. of Michigan
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Raymond J. Carroll, Texas A&M Univ.; Charmaine Dean, Univ. of Western Ontario (Canada)
Electorate Nominating Committee: Chris Amos, Dartmouth College; Sastry G. Pantula, Oregon State Univ.; Simon Tavaré, Univ. of Cambridge (UK); Naisyin Wang, Univ. of Michigan
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