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1981 NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 1980
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:15 a.m. in room 2318 Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. George E. Brown, Jr. (chairman of the subcommittee), presiding.
Present: Messrs. Brown, Hance, and Pease.
This is the next to final day of hearings on the proposed program of the National Science Foundation. This morning, and again this afternoon, we will be focusing exclusively on science education. I want to welcome the distinguished witnesses who will be giving us their views on the several topics we have selected for emphasis. It is a rather full program, and I don't want to waste time discussing the menu.
I would, however, like to stress my concern about the disparity between the importance of science education and the budget it has been given in recent years. This year is no exception. While increases of 15 to 25 percent are being sought for basic and applied research, the budget request for science education is only 9.6 percent greater than last year, a "gain" that will, more than likely, be wiped out by inflation.
Although the education budget steadily falls behind our investment in research, we have steadily growing expectations of what science education should be doing. There are professional shortages to fill, and there is a widening gap in general public understanding of how technology does-or might-affect our world. Somehow, between the Science Foundation and the new Department of Education, the Federal reaction to those needs must be determined and carried out.
These are, generally, the topics we will be discussing today. This morning and again this afternoon we will be focusing exclusively on science education.
I want to welcome Dr. James Rutherford, Assistant Director of Science Education of the National Science Foundation.
At the end of this morning's session, for the last few minutes, we will have Dr. Dustin Heuston, who is president of WICAT, who has some disc teaching equipment to tell us about, and he will be demonstrating it during the noon hour for those of you who may be interested.
I would now like to call on our first witness this morning, Dr. James Rutherford, who is the Assistant Director of Science Education of the National Science Foundation. Dr. Rutherford. [A biographical sketch of Dr. Rutherford follows:]
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20550
DR. F. JAMES RUTHERFORD
Assistant Director for Science Education
Dr. F. James Rutherford was nominated by President Carter and confirmed by the Senate on September 28, 1977 for the position of Assistant Director for Science Education at the National Science Foundation. In this position he is responsible for the development, coordination, direction, and evaluation of programs designed to improve the science and mathematics education of all students from elementary school through college; for programs to assist schools, colleges, and universities in developing high quality education for professional careers in science and technology; and programs to improve the public understanding of and participation in science.
Prior to his NSF appointment, Dr. Rutherford had been professor and Chairman of the Department of Science Education at New York University since 1971. In that position he was responsible for a complete reorganization of the science education doctoral-and master-level programs and for the development of new courses in the social, organizational, and human aspects of science. He also instituted and became Director of Project City Science. This project, funded by the National Science Foundation, began in 1974 with a long-term goal of improving science teaching in the junior high schools. From 1964 to 1971, he was Assistant and Associate Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He was also Executive Director of the Project Physics Course, a curriculum project which resulted in the production of a widely acclaimed introductory physics course. This course because of its humanistic and historical approach proved of interest to a much broader spectrum of students than the traditional physics courses.
From 1949 to 1964 he was a science teacher, head of a science department, science consultant, and director of a science-humanities project in various California high schools.
Dr. Rutherford was born in Stockton, California, on July 11, 1924. He attended California public schools and, after service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, completed his baccalaureate studies in biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1947. He received an M.A. from Stanford University in 1949 and a doctorate in science education from Harvard University in 1962.
Dr. Rutherford is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Association of Physics Teachers, Association for the Education of Teachers of Science, and the National Association for Research in Science Teaching. He has authored and co-authored various papers, books, and articles dealing with science education.
He has been the recipient of a number of honors and fellowships, including a Ford Foundation Fellowship in 1954 and the 1970 CINE award for the motion picture "The World of Enrico Fermi", which is used in the Project Physics Course. Dr. Rutherford developed the idea, collaborated on the script, and was co-producer. He also received the Distinguished Service Award of the American Association of Physics Teachers in 1971 and was President of the National Science Teachers Association in 1974-1975.
Dr. Rutherford was married in 1945 and has four children.
STATEMENT OF DR. F. JAMES RUTHERFORD, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
FOR SCIENCE EDUCATION, NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION Dr. RUTHERFORD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Before beginning, I would like to introduce Prof. Eugene CotaRobles, who is on the National Science Foundation Board.
Mr. Brown. I appreciate that. I am very well acquainted with Dr. Cota-Robles, and we are pleased to have him here.
Dr. RUTHERFORD. I think there is a large number of distinguished people to testify today. Before I begin, I would like to introduce among the guests another distinguished educator who knows some of the real problems in the schools. He is Mr. Paul Clauden, principal of the high school in California where I taught for many years. I am pleased that he is here today.
Mr. Chairman, with your permission, I will simply submit my testimony for the record and discuss with you a few of the ideas that I know are on the minds of the committee members.
During the last two times we have met it has been my job to try and describe for the committee how we were developing our responses in science education at the Foundation in relation to the very problems of science and technology education that you have pointed out today and at other times.
I will not recite that again, except to point out to you that we are making headway toward our two main goals. The first of these is to see to it that this Nation develops the best scientists and engineers of any country in the world, but to do so in a way that brings more minorities and women and handicapped into the scientific activities. We are making progress on that.
The other major goal that we have developed over the last 2 years is the one of reaching out with science education to all citizens, all people, all students, not merely those who are going on to scientific careers.
In order to reach these two goals we have put great emphasis on developing programs for young people, in particular the early adolescents. As recently as 1977, only a small fraction of NSF funds were going to the precollegiate level to develop the capacities and understandings of young people. We are making headway on that. We continue, at the same time, to develop our research and development capability. We are now funding research and development activities that I think are of the highest quality, that will help us understand how better to do this job, and will help produce many of the kinds of materials that students in colleges and schools need. Again, we are thinking of all students, not merely the science majors.
We have also gone outside the realm of schools and colleges. We are providing more help to museums, to television, to ways and means of reaching people where they are, to help them understand science in a way that will help them solve the problems that they consider important in their communities across the land.
Finally, we are using all of our 27 programs to try and achieve our goals rather than continuing to invent new programs to deal with the problems of the day.
All of these emphases are reflected in the fiscal year 1981 budget request before you. You will see a continued increase in funding for early adolescence, and for informal education, for research and development, and for activities designed to bring minorities and women into scientific careers.
Let me turn now to a series of issues I know are on your minds. They are on ours. I won't try to discuss them at any length. I will merely say a word or two about them so that the questioning can provide an opportunity for the information you wish.
First of all, there is the matter of the Department of Education. It does exist after some 2 years of effort of one kind or another. In fact, the Department is in the final steps of coming into being. As it turned out, some of our programs and a small number of dollars, were transferred to the new Department. As you know, however, it is the case that none of our functions, none of our activities was transferredonly the two programs that you know about.
The important question is, however, how can we now take advantage of the fact that such a Department exists to work with us to achieve some ends that we ourselves could not accomplish alone? In this regard we have begun the early steps of trying to work out cooperative arrangements with the new Department.
As to our own part of that bargain, however, I assure you we are aware that when the new Department was created, the National Science Foundation was authorized to continue to develop and maintain any programs contemplated by the original act of 1950 and its extensions. We expect to continue to work with this committee and other appropriate committees in the Congress to develop programs over time.
Perhaps you will want to come back to that, but let me move on. One of the questions raised by Congress last year involved the resource centers in science and engineering program.
As you recall, these are rather large single grants to an institution in a region to develop a set of coordinated programs to help increase the flow of minority students into scientific and engineering careers. The first of these was in Atlanta. We now have a second one in New Mexico and are in the process of deciding on the funding of the third resource center.
Congress said to us last year that before we went any further, we should study the situation to see if indeed the resource center idea was making headway. We did complete a study. It involved site visits. It involved the study of all of the documents that have been produced over the years in relation to this and, as the report that has been submitted to you notes, we believe that what it shows is that the concept is crystallizing, that there is now a consensus developing on what these centers can do and that the concept makes real sense in relation to the problems at hand.
Also, the study showed that the resource center that was underway, and the new one beginning, in fact are able to do what they say they will do; some had questioned whether the centers could accomplish the plans outlined in their proposals. It appears that they can. That report has been submitted to you, and I will be pleased to discuss it
Last year also Congress raised some questions about some changes that I had proposed in the college science faculty renewal programs. Our funds for the renewal of scientific and mathematical faculty are very limited. It seemed to me that to put those funds into what amount to fellowships for a year's study, while useful to the individuals, was