• Image promoting the Smithsonian Science Education Center's new e-Book, Expedition: Insects

Life Science

Bear and cubs in the woods

With support from an NSF grant, Smithsonian Science Education Center developed the Science and Technology Concepts Program™ (STC™): A basal, science and engineering-practices centered program for grades K-10.

Physical Science

Water droplet 
Each STC™ unit provides opportunities for students to experience scientific phenomena firsthand. The units cover life, earth, and physical sciences with technology.

Earth & Space Science

Rocks in the sunset
Carolina Biological Supply Company creates kits for each STC™ unit, supporting the teacher with everything needed for meaningful learning experiences.

Innovation in Education

The Smithsonian Science Education Center received a 5-year, $30 million Investing in Innovation (i3) grant to improve K-8 science education. We are working with researchers, communities, districts, schools, and teachers in three regions to evaluate the effectiveness of our inquiry-based science education model (LASER: Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform). 

A Community of Support 

The LASER model addresses classroom instruction using a research-based science curriculum with aligned professional development for teachers.  LASER also provides the entire support system with excellent science education. This prepares students for the opportunities of our 21st century economy.

Diversity of Classrooms 

Our goal is to develop practices and procedures that can be replicated in other schools, districts, and states. LASER i3 is currently working with over 75,000 students and 3,000 teachers from urban and rural schools in grades one through eight. Learn more

Smithsonian Institution

Founded in 1846, the Smithsonian is the world's largest museum and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities. The Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) was established by the Smithsonian and the National Academies in 1985. Its mission is to improve the learning and teaching of science for all students in the United States and throughout the world. Go to the Smithsonian home page

  • Reaching New Horizons: We’re Going to Pluto!

    Featuring Dr. Alan Stern

    Poor Pluto is finally getting a visit! To the disappointment of stargazers everywhere, the icy space rock, only 1/6 the size of Earth, was downgraded to a “dwarf planet” in 2006 as we learned more about our solar system. While we may not quite be over Pluto’s “ex-planet” status, we have at least one thing to celebrate: Almost 90 years after its discovery, we’re finally visiting Pluto!

    Meet New HorizonsA model of New Horizons on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
    In January 2006, NASA launched the New Horizons space probe, the fastest spacecraft ever launched and the first aimed at Pluto. Since then, it has been traveling through the solar system at over 30,000 mph while the rest of us on Earth have gone about our lives. In fact, a lot has happened since New Horizons blasted off nine years ago: Twitter was launched, Taylor Swift released her first album, and, oh – Pluto was thrown out of the planets club. (That’s right: When the New Horizons mission began, we were still visiting the ninth planet in our solar system!)
    Although only the size of a grand piano, New Horizons carries seven scientific instruments with names like Ralph, Alice, and LORRI that hope to teach us about Pluto’s surface, what it’s made of, and what its atmosphere is like. We won’t be landing on Pluto this time, just flying by, but scientists hope to land on its surface in the future.