• 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

  • How to Build a Lightbulb: Bringing New Light to Science Education

    Two summers ago, I worked with the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) as an intern with the Professional Services department. One of the main reasons I applied for an internship with the SSEC was to help me prepare to teach high school biology as a part of my undergraduate thesis. With only one semester of pedagogical training under my belt, I was looking forward to spending a summer with passionate and experienced scientists and educators who could help me become the best teacher possible for my students. One of my primary responsibilities for the SSEC was to help plan, coordinate, and execute the Smithsonian’s Summer Science Education Academies for Teachers (SSEATs).
    The SSEC offers a variety of SSEATs, but I focused mainly on Energy: Past, Present, and Future. As a college student pursuing a career in medicine but also preparing to teach science in a Washington, DC public high school, I came into the Energy Academy with a unique perspective. Because I assisted with the planning, I knew that the academy would include many hands-on activities and one-of-a-kind learning experiences in the Smithsonian museums. However, I did not realize the true value of SSEATs until I had the chance to work through some experiments and activities with the teachers. One of my most memorable experiences from the Energy Academy was when we worked with the National Museum of Natural History’s Spark!Lab to try to re-invent the lightbulb. During the activity, we used different types of metal wire, a glass bulb, and a battery to see what combination and arrangement of the wires works most effectively to produce light. Some of the wires glowed brightly but very quickly burned up within the glass bulb. Other wires gave off only a dim light but lasted much longer. Although it took us a few tries, and we burned several pieces of metal, it was precisely that experience of trial-and-error work that helped me understand how an incandescent lightbulb really works.