• 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

  • What Makes an Effective Science Video?

    The ubiquity of digital technology has revolutionized the ways in which we communicate and consume scientific content. Perhaps most importantly, the Internet has enabled easier and more democratic access to knowledge that was once available only though exclusive and often costly academic programs. Answers to some of the most complex questions in science are now available at the click of a mouse, through web videos created by a diverse and highly popular set of so-called “science explainer” outlets, which have proliferated in recent years.  Other projects, such as Salman Khan’s Khan Academy have assembled digital libraries that empower people all over the world to engage with vast collections of educational content through free and endlessly-replayable instructional videos. The Academy has already had a substantial impact on formal education, as its library of videos, which have been translated into 24 different languages, is accessed by roughly six million unique students around the globe each month (Noer, 2012).

    As valuable and groundbreaking as this type of resource is, however, critics assert that a flaw of “content explainer” videos is that they essentially repackage traditional education and deliver it in a new way. Prensky (2011) argues that in addition to disseminating traditional lecture-based knowledge, digital technologies have the potential to provide new ways of reaching learners through games and multi-media tools that foster experiential education. Such resources may be particularly useful to students who have struggled in traditional educational contexts, as these tools may allow them to approach the same content in novel ways (Prensky, 2011).