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April 4, 2007

Don Kennedy to discuss K-12 science education; President Hennessy to launch public education initiative

By Lisa Trei

On Wednesday, April 4, at 5 p.m., President John Hennessy will kick off the launch of The Stanford Challenge's initiative on K-12 education—a multidisciplinary effort bringing together scholars from across campus to identify and demonstrate strategies for making fundamental improvements in the way children are educated in the United States.

Hennessy's remarks will introduce a discussion in the School of Education's Cubberley Lecture series titled, "Science: How, What and Who Decides?" by Donald Kennedy, president emeritus and editor-in-chief of Science. The talk, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the school's Cubberley Auditorium at 485 Lasuen Mall. A reception will follow at 6 p.m.

According to scholars, much has been discussed about how K-12 students lose interest in science as they grow older, but there is little agreement about what is needed to improve science education in the United States. Should children learn how to engage in science through active participation, in ways that encourage learning the "whats" and "hows" of the scientific process? Or should teachers go "back to basics" with a more traditional approach that emphasizes vocabulary and memorizing scientific facts? Kennedy will explore what scientists think about K-12 science teaching—and why scientific insights into how the human brain might connect to learning have been disappointing. The discussion also will focus on the critics of science teaching, including growing efforts by Christian conservatives to challenge the teaching of evolution in public schools.

Kennedy has served on the Stanford faculty since 1960 and is a senior fellow by courtesy at the Center for Environmental Sciences and Policy at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. From 1980 to 1992, he served as Stanford's eighth president. Before that he was director of the Program in Human Biology from 1973 to 1977 and chair of the Department of Biology from 1964 to 1972. From 1977 to 1979, Kennedy was commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He serves as a director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and as co-chair of the National Academies' Project on Science, Technology and Law.



Lisa Trei, News Service: (650) 725-0224,


Amy Yuen, School of Education: (650) 724-9440,

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