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See Inside November 2010

Teachable Moment

Editor in Chief Mariette DiChristina introduces the November 2010 issue of Scientific American



C. FLEMMING Nobel Laureate Meetings

This page often focuses on the fascinating science featured inside the magazine, but this month I also want to tell you about what we are doing for science outside of our pages.

As a Scientific American reader, you are most likely concerned about the sliding performance of U.S. students in science and math. Fostering learning in general is important, of course. (For more on that, see “Hearing the Music, Honing the Mind,” Science Agenda.) But as President Barack Obama put it in September: “Our nation’s success depends on strengthening America’s role as the engine of discovery and innovation.”

Toward that end, Nature Publishing Group (NPG), Scientific American’s parent company, has joined Change the Equation, part of the White House’s Educate to Innovate efforts to boost teaching in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). NPG’s Bridge to Science activities include Scitable learning guides, teacher training, and development of a model for understanding science education’s return on investment. And in early 2011 look for these programs from Scientific American:

Bring Science Home. As a mom of two school-age daughters who think science is cool, I know the vital role parents play in cultivating a love of the subject. So each day for a month www.ScientificAmerican.com will offer simple experiments that parents and kids can do together at home.

Citizen Science. We plan a digital plat­form, including a Web site page and apps, for parents and kids to learn about and participate in ongoing scientific research.

1,000 Scientists in 1,000 Days. We will recruit researchers to volunteer time in the classroom or to participate in activities such as National Lab Day.

A different kind of instruction takes place at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings in Germany, but it, too, has a profound effect on the future of science. Laureates share wisdom with young scientists in talks and casual conversation. I blogged from the 60th anniversary meeting, and now you can see more in videos on www.ScientificAmerican.com.

Last, this issue itself is rife with mind-expanding opportunities for students, scientists and nonscientists alike. Just to name two, see “Dark Worlds,” by Jonathan Feng and Mark Trodden, for an armchair journey into the invisible universe. And “Climate Heretic,” by Michael D. Lemonick, offers a challenging but important lesson about keeping lines of communication—and minds—open while discussing climate science.

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