Smithsonian Science Education Center

The mission of the Smithsonian Science Education Center is to improve the teaching and learning of science for all students in the United States and the world. This unique organization develops exemplary science instructional materials; builds awareness for science education among educational leaders; helps develop science education leadership for groups from school districts and states; and conducts programs that support the professional growth of teachers.

STEM Ed Initiatives: 

Current Programs and Activities:

The Smithsonian Science Education Center is concentrating its efforts on three core focus areas -- our award-winning science curriculum, digital initiatives, and leadership and professional development services.


SSEC produces and disseminates research-based, science education curriculum for grades K-8. With support from the National Science Foundation, we've developed the Science and Technology Concepts (STC™) Program: a basal, inquiry-based science curriculum that covers the content areas of life, earth and physical sciences. In addition to the curriculum, STC also has produced a K-6 literacy series to compliment the units. STC is under revision to ensure that it is fully aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core Mathematics and Language Arts standards.

Digital Initiatives:

SSEC is focused on bringing our highly regarded pedagogy to the digital world to be responsive to the needs of today’s teachers and students. For example, a new multimedia project is in the works and, once launched, will transform millions of Smithsonian science holdings into innovative, multimedia curricular resources. We are working to create webinars with Smithsonian researchers, videos, digital learning applications, lesson plans and interactive activities. We are also in the concept phase to develop an online mentoring space where teachers can upload and share curricular materials, and get the newest “best practices” in teaching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

Leadership Development

As previously mentioned, SSEC’s Professional Services are nationally and internationally recognized for the quality and impact of their leadership development work on the improvement of K-12 science education. During the past two decades, SSEC has developed differentiated products and services to assist districts, regions, states and countries. Our major leadership development services include:

  • K-12 Science Education Institutes for Leadership Development and Strategic Planning, rigorous workshops and intensive planning sessions for leadership teams representing schools, districts and regions eager to advance science education reform; and 
  • National Science Education Leadership Development Forums, sessions that explore current research and pedagogies in science education such as increasing literacy through teaching evidence-based science argumentation in middle and high school classrooms; and 
  • Smithsonian Science Education Academies for Teachers, week-long professional development programs where teachers are able to spend time behind the scenes at Smithsonian Museums and learn from Smithsonian scientists to deepen their content knowledge. 

New Initiatives:

The Smithsonian Science Education Center is moving into two key areas that critically support our education reform model; early childhood education and workforce development.

Early Childhood Education:

Early childhood education serves children in their preschool years. As a natural transition into inquiry based K – 8 science education, SSEC is developing a program that consists of activities and experiences that develop the innate curiosity in children prior to their entry into elementary school to hone their ability to engage in inquiry and improve later school performance.

Workforce Development:

Workforce development is an essential component of community economic development in any economic climate. SSEC is working to develop programs in partnership with key stakeholders, such as community leaders, corporations, Universities, private foundations and community colleges to create, sustain and retain a viable workforce that can support current and future business and industry. These critical programs will be delivered through formal and informal means that are designed to enhance the skills of people to gain or maintain socio-economic status by eliminating the barriers to employment.

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