Smithsonian Science Education Center Discusses LASER and Professional Learning Communities with Partner Organizations

January 2016

On January 5th, Carol O’Donnell, Director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC); Amy D’Amico, Division Director of Professional Services; Jean Flannigan, Education Research Specialist; and Katherine Blanchard, Program Specialist, met with Heidi Schweingruber, Ph.D., the director of the Board on Science Education at the National Research Council (NRC)--the working arm of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Heidi met with the SSEC to discuss the study that resulted in the report AFramework for K-12 Science Education (2011), which was the first step in revising national standards for K-12 science education (commonly referred to as Next Generation Science Standards). SSEC staff discussed with Dr. Schweingruber ideas for bringing research of the National Academies into the hands of practitioners through the SSEC’s Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform (LASER) Strategic Planning Institutes. SSEC also discussed lessons learned about implementation of new science standards through curriculum materials in schools throughout the country. (The SSEC was founded by a joint partnership of the National Academies and the Smithsonian Institution in 1985. The two organizations continue to collaborate on national STEM education efforts under a 10-year MOU.)

On January 6, Carol O’Donnell, Director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC), conducted an international teleconference with Dr. Indarjani,Deputy Director for Programmesat the Southeast Asia Ministries of Education Organization (SEAMEO) Regional Center for Quality Improvement of Teachers and Education Personnel (QITP) in Science, housed in Bandung, Indonesia. After brief introductions, Dr. Indarjarni sought advice from SSEC regarding a mandate by the Ministry of Education in 11 Southeast Asian countries to enhance science teacher education through professional development, seminars, and research by promoting Inquiry Based Science Education (ISBE) in Indonesia and throughout the 11 partnering countries. The output of this program is to develop Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) for teachers through virtual courses with regional standards that are relevant to the context and situation in each region. Dr. Indarjarni contacted Carol after she learned about the results of SSEC’s recent Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform (LASER) i3 validation study, which is being translated into the 5 UN languages. As a result of the call, the Southeast Asia Ministries of Education selected the SSEC for a Fulbright Specialist award granted by the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board to provide advice to SEAMEO QITP in science education reform.