Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title



History and philosophy of science education can be an essential source material that reflects the richness and diversity of scientific culture and practice. Science education has been struggling with pedagogical battles between progressive educators and traditionalists, teacher shortages, low teacher salaries, and poorly qualified teachers since the 1930s (Ravitch, 1981). The decisions made about national security, economic growth, and political issues have influenced the pathways of science education in the United States since the 1950s with the launch of the Sputnik orbiting satellite. One of the major tasks of science education should be to document and compare what has happened, and what might happen to resolve the discrepancies and to lessen the achievement gaps (Kolsto, 2008). Most recent reforms in science education emphasize the preparation of scientifically literate students (Van Zee, 2000). A Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012) define scientific literacy as “the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for scientific decision-making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity” (NRC, 2012). This study provides the historical review for the development of the idea of scientific literacy and science education in the United States from the 19th century to the present to discuss how the goals have competed with one another for public attention. By building a bridge between the present and the past, this review seeks to explain how science has been included as part of the curriculum, what educators thought, what kinds of developments have been made and how these improvements influenced and may influence the society.

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