Why encore?

Here is one explanation:

My grandfather was owner, major-domo, artistic director (dictator according to my mother), and chief thespian of a traveling medicine show in the early 1900s. High drama and low comedy were the show’s stock in trade, not to mention selling cure-alls. Sounds something like education.

I was told by my mother—Miss Agnes Ennis (her stage name), listed as the “Character Lead” in the above handbill—that she was a child star in the troupe and that after every performance she was called on for encore after encore. I am sure that given my meager singing, dancing, and acting talent, my grandfather would have kept me off the stage, but as my mother’s one and only it seems only right for me to preserve the encore tradition in some other way or other.

Okay, that’s a bit of a stretch, I suppose, so here’s another explanation:

I have had a long and diverse professional life. Science education was the focus of my work for nearly 60 years, during which there were gratifying successes, depressing failures, and lots of in-betweeners. Then one day the show was over. I retired and for some years was mostly a spectator of the science education scene, restraining my strong impulse to butt in. One exception to this monastic stance was my paper: “Is Our Past Our Future? Thoughts on the Next Fifty Years of Science Education Reform In the Light of Judgments on the Past Fifty Years.”

Then gradually the encore metaphor took hold, and I decided that I could still make useful contributions to the advancement of science education—but in some way other than writing more papers and books, leading seminars, or accepting committee assignments. The way to do this, I decided, was the modern way—by creating a science education Web site. Yes I knew that there were already science education sites on the Internet, but I thought that I might nevertheless be able to add interesting material not otherwise online by following-up on my professional performances with ones based on it. An encore.

So what is SE>encore like?

As it has turned out, it is sort of like one of those antique/second hand shops—a mish-mash of this and that (some valuable and some not, some old and some not) without any apparent overarching organization. SE>encore contains work in progress and work finished long ago, items that are open to participation and those that are not, Word documents and Power Point presentations, serious and not so serious. Users can select what catches their attention and ignore the rest.

So here is a quick run down on SE>encore ingredients in the order given in the Directory.


About SE>encore
That’s where you are now.

SE>encore News
From time to time I will post news items that are related to this site in one way or another. It may be to alert users of some new material on the site, or to request help, or to point to interesting new publications or websites. Time will tell.

SE>encore Editorials
This is intended to include editorials that focus on our failure so far to achieve the degree of science literacy we should have.  As they are written, commentary will be invited.

SE>encore Op-Eds

Here is where visitors to this site can say their say without concern for the opinions I express in the Editorials.

Second Thoughts
Of the articles I have written over the years, only a few interest me today. In each of those, I wonder whether it is because they match my current thinking or because they don’t. Here I provide a link to the articles and in time analyze each of them critically. Comments on my analyses by other reviewers will be welcome.

The Purgatory Fix
This will become a location for science education failure case studies. Each case, whether defined by me or by participants, will describe an undertaking for which the author(s) had high hopes but that ultimately failed, on what evidence, and for what reasons. Commentary will then be sought. As the cases and commentary accrue, the we may be able to develop a better sense of what constitutes success and failure in reform undertakings, and of how to increase the probability of achieving the former. It can also lead to a realization of the value of failure.


The Road Taken

My brief CV is essentially the one-pager mostly used when a CV is requested.

A longer version, Beliefs and Predilections, includes commentary on my viewpoints and their origins.

The Logo Trail adds another way—whimsical, I suppose—for the route from my first year in high school to now.

Director’s Notes

Director’s Notes consists of the one-page essays I wrote for 2061 Today, thereby showing the flow of reform concerns over those years.

Galileo, etcetera
Galileo, etcetera presents the historical time charts from Project Physics for Aristotle, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, James Watt, James Clerk Maxwell, and Neils Bohr.

The Federal Role
The Federal Role replays the theatre—tragedy? comedy? melodrama?—featuring science education. As examples, I will include the process in preparing and giving Congressional testimony in search of greater support for the NSF science education programs. It also contains the testimony I gave in in response to questions asked by Senators considering my appointment as assistant director of the National Science Foundation, and a paper I wrote for a Carnegie Commission on the role of the Federal Government in support of science education.


How Science for All Americans, Benchmarks for Science Literacy, and Designs for Science Literacy came into being is interesting and, I believe, highlights controversial aspects of education reform that still merit the attention of today’s reformers. I also believe that the origin of Project Physics, as one of the major reform undertakings of the Sputnik era, is worth knowing about, and so its included here..

Story Lines
Future science educators should study with care many of the central reform works. Among them are Project Physics and the chief Project 2061 books. To foster interest in doing so, SE>encore here provides synopses of the Project Physics Textbook, and Project 2061’s Science for All Americans, Designs for Science Literacy, and Blueprints for Reform–all using the words of the documents themselves. Benchmarks for Science Literacy is not included because its story line is exactly the same as Science for All Americans.

One of the most popular components of Project Physics was its Readers. For each of the units, the content of the Readers range from biography, to social impacts and engineering applications, to advanced and alternate treatments of topics, and to science fiction and poems referring to science. They can be read here and, if you wish, downloaded from the Project Physic Collection on Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org/details/projectphysicscollection).

Over the last century, some books on, or bearing on, science education reform have survived as classics. My work-a-day definition of such books is that they should be required reading for all future science educators. I will list some with a defense; others should submit nominations.


Cover Art
Many of the weekly Science covers are beautiful, certainly works of art. Starting in 2000, I have selected about 20 that I find to be especially attractive. The brief discription of the cover art as written by Science is included, along with a link to the first page of the associated article where an abstract is available. I would be pleased to hear from visitors to this page which 2 or 3 of my selected covers they believe to be the most beautiful. And for those of you who have back copies of Science available, I would welcome criticisms of my choices.

Chapter Art
As those of you familiar with the Project 2061 books know, I selected a piece of real art to open each chapter. This was not to pretty up the book, but to raise questions about the confluence, if any, between science content and art. Here, from time to time, I will present a copy of one such chapter art opener along with the introduction of the same chapter. Viewers will then be invited to suggest what the connection between them was intended, to submit more relevant art, or to belie the proposition.

Art Links
Art galleries and museums occasionally have exhibits that feature science. When I learn of such, I will list them here with a link to the exhibit, and I hope that others will submit information of such exhibits.

Comet Halley
Comet Halley—as a thing of nature and a thing of science, history, and art—has a special place in the conception of Project 2061.

The DNA Follies
When DNA first became the top-of-the-line research, science journals and popular science magazines became the home of ads for research materials and instruments. Some of these ads where whimsical, some outright funny, and some that could be construed in a humorous vein. I collected lots of them, extracted the part that struck my fancy, and added a name to each. They are organized here in three acts and an encore.