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Science education is the field concerned with sharing science content and process with individuals not traditionally considered part of the scientific community. The target individuals may be children, college students, or adults within the general public. The field of science education comprises science content, some social science, and some teaching pedagogy. The standards for science education provide expectations for the development of understanding for students through the entire course of their K-12 education. The traditional subjects included in the standards are physical, life, earth, and space sciences.
The first person credited with being employed as a Science teacher in a British public school was William Sharp who left the job at Rugby School in 1850 after establishing Science to the curriculum. Sharp is said to have established a model for Science to be taught throughout the British Public Schools. The next step came when the British Academy for the Advancement of Science (BAAS) published a report in 1867. BAAS promoted teaching of “pure science” and training of the "scientific habit of mind." The progressive education movement of the time supported the ideology of mental training through the sciences. BAAS emphasized separately pre-professional training in secondary science education. In this way, future BAAS members could be prepared.
The initial development of science teaching was slowed by the lack of qualified teachers. One key development was the founding of the first London School Board in 1870, which discussed the school curriculum; another was the initiation of courses to supply the country with trained science teachers. In both cases the influence of Thomas Henry Huxley was critical (see especially Thomas Henry Huxley educational influence). John Tyndall was also influential in the teaching of physical science.
In the US, science education was a scatter of subjects prior to its standardization in the 1890s. The development of a science curriculum in the US emerged gradually after extended debate between two ideologies, citizen science and pre-professional training. As a result of a conference of 30 leading secondary and college educators in Florida, the National Education Association appointed a Committee of Ten in 1892 which had authority to organize future meetings and appoint subject matter committees of the major subjects taught in U.S. secondary schools. The committee was composed of ten educators (all men) and was chaired by Charles Eliot of Harvard University. The Committee of Ten met, and appointed nine conferences committees (Latin, Greek, English, Other Modern Languages, Mathematics, History, Civil Government and Political Economy, and three in science). The three conference committees appointed for science were: physics, astronomy, and chemistry (1); natural history (2); and geography (3). Each committee, appointed by the Committee of Ten, was composed of ten leading specialists from colleges and normal schools, and secondary schools. Each committee met in a different location in the U.S. The three science committees met for three days in the Chicago area. Committee reports were submitted to the Committee of Ten, which met for four days in New York, to create a comprehensive report. In 1894, the NEA published the results of work of these conference committees.
According to the Committee of Ten, the goal of high school was to prepare all students to do well in life, contributing to their well-being and the good of society. Another goal was to prepare some students to succeed in college.
This committee supported the citizen science approach focused on mental training and withheld performance in science studies from consideration for college entrance. The BAAS encouraged their longer standing model in the UK. The US adopted a curriculum was characterized as follows: Elementary science should focus on simple natural phenomena (nature study) by means of experiments carried out "in-the-field." Secondary science should focus on laboratory work and the committees prepared lists of specific experiments Teaching of facts and principles College preparation
The format of shared mental training and pre-professional training consistently dominated the curriculum from its inception to now. However, the movement to incorporate a humanistic approach, such as is science, technology, society and environment education is growing and being implemented more broadly in the late 20th century (Aikenhead, 1994). Reports by the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), including Project 2061, and by the National Committee on Science Education Standards and Assessment detail goals for science education that link classroom science to practical applications and societal implications.