• 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

  • Crosscutting Concepts: The Bigger Picture

    As teachers across America contend with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), many are no doubt asking themselves whether these are really any different from previous standards. One way to answer this question is to look at the crosscutting concepts: eight broad concepts that transcend disciplines in science.

    As an example, look at the crosscutting concept, Patterns:

    Observed patterns in nature guide organization and classification and prompt questions about relationships and causes underlying them.

    The NGSS suggest that this crosscutting concept is useful for teaching topics as diverse as relationships in ecosystems, evolution, tectonic processes, and chemical reactions.

    On the face of it, the crosscutting concepts look very similar to the unifying concepts and processes in the National Science Education Standards (NSES). However, an important difference between the crosscutting concepts and the unifying concepts and processes is that the crosscutting concepts are now integrated into the performance expectations in the NGSS.  This means that every lesson should combine disciplinary content with both crosscutting concepts and science and engineering practices as discussed in an earlier post.