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About NIH SciEd Nation

What is the purpose of this site?

U.S students are falling behind their international peers in science, mathematics, and problem solving skills, and compared to other countries fewer U.S. students are choosing careers in these disciplines. NIH Science Education Nation is a Website to facilitate partnerships of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) experts with schools and teachers to enhance and increase interest in science education. Users can browse for information on the state of science education and about U.S. schools. They can also learn how to build and sustain partnerships with K-12 educators and work for systemic change. The resources pages help users access more in depth information on the topics outlined here, locate funding sources, and find ideas and manuals for specific activities.

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Who was this site designed for?

NIH Science Education Nation is designed for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics students and professionals interested in learning more about or becoming more involved in K-12 education in the United States.

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What is on this site?

At NIH Science Education Nation science, technology, engineering, and mathematics students and professionals can:

  • Find out how U.S. students stack up to students around the world in reading, mathematics, science, and problem solving skills
  • Learn about contemporary K-12 schools and the typical day in the life of a teacher
  • Discover how to partner with teachers and schools to improve U.S. science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education
  • Learn how to enhance tangible support for science education among colleagues, managers, and administrators
  • Locate reference materials on education, education policy, communicating science, and partnership funding sources
  • Read about successful partnerships and their strategies for success as well as download “How-To-Guides” for common partnership activities

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Why is the National Institutes of Health providing this resource?

A 2007 National Academy of Sciences report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm External Web Site Policy (NAS, 2007) concluded that the United States is in danger of losing its economic leadership position because of a potential inability to compete in the global marketplace. To address this competitiveness issue, the committee made four primary recommendations. First among these was that the United States increase its talent pool by vastly improving K-12 science and mathematics education.

Most scientists would concur that science is essential if students are to understand the world and, even, be good citizens. For many parents, however, a more compelling argument for high-quality science education is that their children need it in order to prosper in a 21st-century workforce. This does not mean that all students need to prepare for a career in science or engineering, but rather that the skills mastered through high-quality science education are among those greatly valued by employers.

Over the past 30 years, the skills needed to obtain a job and make a middle-class salary have changed dramatically due to technological advances and globalization. It has become much more difficult for students with only a high school diploma and even people with a college degree to succeed in a globalized economy. These difficulties are compounded by the fact that the skill set taught in schools has changed little over this time period. In the early years of the 21st century, there is a substantial gap between the skills of graduating high school seniors and the skills valued by employers.

In today’s advanced technological world, many employers are willing to teach knowledge specific to their industry, as long as potential employees are proficient in basic knowledge, working in groups with various backgrounds, solving semi-structured problems, and communicating effectively orally and in writing. Recent assessments of grade 12 students in the United States show that they are lacking in preparation for these basic skills. According to findings from the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP, 2005), the number of students performing at a basic level in reading dropped by 7 percent between 1992 and 2005. In addition, just over half of students performed at a basic level in mathematics.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment External Web Site Policy (PISA) found that in 2003, 58 percent of students surveyed in the United States scored only as basic problem solvers or below. Furthermore, the United States ranked 29th out of 40 countries surveyed in this study. Finally, in the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement's TIMSS 2007 International Science Report External Web Site Policy (Olson,2008), U.S. students ranked 8th of 36 and 11th of 49 in 4th and 8th grades, respectively. However, 13 countries that scored higher than the United States on the PISA exam, including Finland, Canada, and the United Kingdom, did not participate in TIMSS. What is most disturbing about the TIMSS data is that student performance relative to the world appears to deteriorate over time. U.S. fourth-grade students score an average of 539, whereas eighth graders score only 520. (The TIMSS scale is set to an average score of 500.)

This site provides information and resources for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics professionals who wish to help reverse the decline in U.S. student performance relative the rest of the world.

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Who manages this site?

NIH Science Education Nation is managed by the Office of Science Education (OSE). OSE is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

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Who do I contact if I have questions about this site?

Questions and comments about the NIH Science Education Nation Web site should be sent to:

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What are others saying about the NIH Science Education Nation Web site?

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Does NIH Science Education Nation have a linking policy?

NIH Science Education Nation uses the following guidelines for linking to non-NIH sites:

  • Not-for-profit professional associations and organizations that complement and enhance the information on the NIH Science Education Nation Web site, and
  • U.S. Federal agencies that complement and enhance the information on the NIH Science Education Nation Web site
These criteria may change to reflect updated OSE or NIH Web site policies.

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What is NIH Science Education Nation privacy policy?

The NIH Office of Science Education respects the privacy of visitors to the NIH Science Education Nation Web site. We may collect a limited amount of information on usage of the Web site for statistical purposes, in order to measure the number of visitors to the various sections of our site and to help us make our site more useful to visitors. The information collected includes standard server log information, such as the domain name or IP address from which you access the Internet, the date and time you access our site, the pages you viewed, the type of browser and operating system you used to access our site, and, if you linked to our site from another Web site, that Web site's address. We collect this information on an aggregate basis only. Our Web site logs are not personally identifiable, and we make no attempt to link them with the individuals who actually browse the site. For example, we track which pages are most popular among visitors as a whole, but pages viewed are not identified with individual users. With email inquiries, we store the inquiry and the email address information so that we can respond electronically.

Unless otherwise required by statute, we do not identify publicly who sends questions or comments to our Web site. We will not obtain information that will allow us to personally identify you when you visit our site, unless you choose to provide such information to us.

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  • National Academy of Sciences (NAS), National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine: Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century, an Agenda for American Science and Technology. 2007. Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. ( External Web Site Policy).
  • National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). 2007. The Nation’s Report Card: 12th-Grade Reading and Mathematics 2005. W. Grigg, P. Donahue, and G. Dion. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. (
  • Olson, J.F., M.O. Martin, and I.V.S. Mullis, Eds. 2008. TIMSS 2007 Technical Report Chestnut Hill, MA: TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, Boston College. ( External Web Site Policy)

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