BOX 1-2

50 Years of Major Events in Informal Science Learning (with primary focus on the United States)

1957 –

National Science Foundation (NSF) conducts first studies of public knowledge of science; repeated in 1979 and thereafter biennially.

1958 –

NSF creates program on “Public Understanding of Science ” (continues to 1981).

1961 –

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) begins newsletter on “Understanding,” linking science journalists, Hollywood film and television producers, mass communication researchers, adult educators, and museum staff (continues to 1967).

1962 –

Founding of Pacific Science Center in Seattle.

1968 –

Founding of the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley.

1969 –

Founding of The Exploratorium in San Francisco.

1973 –

AAAS creates a (short-lived) NSF-funded National Center for Public Understanding of Science, linking radio, television, schools, youth activities, and science kits.

1983 –

NSF recreates Public Understanding of Science Program as Informal Science Education.

1985 –

Royal Society ’s “Bodmer Report ” on public understanding of science (UK) leads to sustained interest in research on related topics (Ziman, 1991; Irwin and Wynne, 1996).

1988 –

Founding of Visitor Studies Association.

1989 –

A grant awarded to the Association for Science-Technology Centers by the Institute for Museum and Library Services results in a series of articles called “What Research Says About Learning Science in Museums ”in the association newsletter and two subsequent volumes with the same title.

1990 –

First chair in the public understanding of science is established, at Imperial College, London.

first satellite into orbit, captured the attention of the U.S. public and galvanized support for domestic science education. For the first time, the federal government participated in K-12 and undergraduate curriculum development though its newly formed NSF, and a critical mass of top academics made a concerted push to improve science education. This began an era of wide-



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