From the boardroom to the classroom, Americans use science every day – whether they realize it or not.
“You need to think like a scientist in everyday life,” said Bruce Alberts, a biochemist known for his work in shaping education policy. “Everybody more and more needs the skills of a scientist just to deal with normal life.”
Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences from 1993 to 2005, was instrumental in creating the National Science Education Standards. Released in 1996, the guidelines for educators focus on experience-based learning and hands-on problem solving, in place of memorizing facts.
An absence of such engaged learning almost veered Alberts – whose early work focused on DNA replication – from becoming a scientist himself.
“You’re not trying to teach all students to be research scientists,” he said in 2005. “You’re trying to teach them how to deal with any problem they’re going to encounter in a scientific way.”