Science education timeline

The History of Science and Math Education -

  • 1788 - New and Complete System of Arithemetic (Nicholas Pike)

    Nicholas Pike was the first to put forward a book, in 1788, that would be widely adopted, the New and Complete System of Arithmetic – Composed for the Use of the Citizens of the United States.
  • 1799 - Practical System of Arithemtic - Adapted to the U.S. (Nathan Daboll)

    1799 Nathan Daboll of Groton, Conn. published his Daboll's schoolmaster's assistant: being a plain, practical system of arithmetic, adapted to the United States.
  • 1801 - Americanization of Math Texts (Daniel Adams)

    Daniel Adams was another contributor to the Americanization of math texts when he published his The Scholar's Arithmetic, or Federal Accountant in Leominster, Mass. In 1801.
  • 1893 — Classes for Changing Times (Expansion of Science Education)

    The National Education Association, through its Committee of Ten, issues a report that, in part, recommends the expansion of science education in elementary and secondary schools. Thought by many to be the formal beginnings of science and math education on the elementary and secondary levels, the report is spurred by America’s shift from an agrarian society to a more industrial one.
  • 1915 -Mathematical Association of America (MMA) Established but roots traced back to 1894 founding of

    American Mathematical Monthly by Benjamin Finkel, who wrote "Most of our existing journals deal almost exclusively with subjects beyond the reach of the average student or teacher of mathematics or at least with subjects with which they are familiar, and little, if any, space, is devoted to the solution of problems…No pains will be spared on the part of the Editors to make this the most interesting and most popular journal published in America.
  • 1920 - National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) was founded

    Largely at the instigation of the MAA. The first NCTM president, C. M. Austin, made it clear that the organization would "keep the values and interests of mathematics before the educational world" and he urged that "curriculum studies and reforms and adjustments come from the teachers of mathematics rather than from the educational reformers."
  • Late 1920s -Committee of Seven (School Superintendents and Principals) Survey

    Used to determine if students are mastering various topics in math according to student mental age. This survey helped substantiate a strong recommendation from the committee to sequence math according to a students' age and corresponding grade level curriculum.
  • 1940s — Science on the Home Front

    World War II refocuses much science education into fields like aviation, electricity and nuclear physics. In 1942 the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company sponsors its first Science Talent Search, a national fair now known as the Intel Science Talent Search that awards scholarship money for independent science projects by high school students.
  • 1950s - Public Concern over the "space race".

    The outcry of concern resulted in research and development in mathematics curricula. The focus was students who excelled in mathematics, and a decade later U.S. society renewed its commitment to equality of opportunity in education.
  • 1958 - National Defense Education Act

    In response, Congress passes the National Defense Education Act, which provides $887 million to boost science education, including doubling funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), a federal agency that supports research, teacher training, and curriculum development.
  • 1959 - National Science Foundation Funds Science Training for Educators

    NSF funds its first summer training institutes for elementary educators and increases the number of institutes for high school teachers.
  • 1960 - The "new math" phenomena mathematics and science education in strengthened

    The launch of the Soviet Union's Sputnik on October 4, 1957, spawned a revelation in U.S. education. The shock of another country's technological superiority sped curriculum change in the U.S.; and introduced a "new math" inception. Millions of dollars went towards math and science education in school. (Reys, Lindquist, Lambdin, & Smith, 2015, p.3)
    Reys, R. E., Lindquist, M. M., Lambdin, D. V., & Smith, N. L. (2015). Helping children learn mathematics.
  • 1968 - Epperson v. Arkansas

    Supreme Court rules that barring the teaching of evolution is unconstitutional, striking down an Arkansas state law.
  • 1969 to 1970 - National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

    NAEP forms the first exam that tests what American students nationwide know about science and other subjects.
  • 1970s - Curriculum development required revision

    The basic skills of math from the colonial days was again considered, with emphasis on addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division with whole numbers and fractions. This stems from the use of tehnology to assist in applying math skills.
    (Reys, Lindquist, Lambdin, & Smith, 2015, p.13)

    Reys, R. E., Lindquist, M. M., Lambdin, D. V., & Smith, N. L. (2015). Helping children learn mathematics.
  • 1975 - U.S. Metric Board Adopts system used in Science Classrooms

    Congress creates the U.S. Metric Board to promote voluntary adoption of the metric system of measurement, used in science classrooms but not in daily American life.
  • 1980 - Federal Government Funds First Science Televison Show

    “321 Contact,” the first science television show for kids funded by the federal government, airs on PBS
  • 1980s - National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) developed standards of school Mathematics.

    This organization went further to develop standards for curriculum and for evaluating, teaching, and assessments.
    (Reys, Lindquist, Lambdin, & Smith, 2015, p.4)
  • 1982 - Federal Fiscal Budget Slashes Funding For National Science Foundation

    President Reagan’s fiscal year 1982 budget slashes funding for the National Science Foundation by 70 percent, eliminating all NSF support for K-12 science initiatives, including teacher institutes and curriculum development.
  • 1983 - U.S. Schools Failing to Prepare Students to Compete Globally in Science and Math

    The National Commission on Excellence in Education issues a wake-up call to the American public with its "Nation at Risk report", charging that U.S. schools are failing to prepare students to compete globally. President Reagan restores some NSF funding for K-12 science programs; creates the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, which gives out $10,000 prizes to the nation’s 100 top math and science teachers each year.
  • 1985 - American Association for the Advancement of Sciences - Math and Science Reform

    The American Association for the Advancement of Science launches Project 2061, a math and science reform group that defines scientific literacy in its reports “Science for All Americans” and “Benchmarks for Science Literacy.”
  • 1990 - Physics First Movement

    Begins to grow, as teachers and scientists push to teach physics rather than biology in ninth grade to allow a more advanced study of biology and chemistry in subsequent years.
  • 1990s - "Math Wars" - Mathematics education policies and programs in U.S. public schools

    Had never been more contentious; the immediate cause of the math wars of the 90s was the introduction & widespread distribution of new math textbooks w/radically diminished content & lack of basic skills; led to organized parental rebellions/criticisms of the new math curricula by mathematicians and other professionals. Klein, D. (2003). A Brief History of American K-12 Mathematics Education in the 20th Century.
  • 1996 - The National Science Education Standards Established

    The National Research Council produces the National Science Education Standards, a set of goals for teaching, student knowledge, and assessment.
  • 1996 - Governors and Corporate Leaders founded Achieve, Inc.

    This bipartisan organization was used to raise academic standards and graduation requirments, improve assessments, and strengthen accountablility in all 50 states.
  • 1999 - National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for 21 Century Created

    U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley creates the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century, led by former U.S. Senator and astronaut John Glenn, to look into strategies to improve mathematics and science teaching.
  • 1999 - U.S. Department of Education recommends list of math books to school districts

    In October 1999, the U.S. Department of Education recommended to the nation's 15,000 school districts a list of math books, including several that had been sharply criticized by mathematicians and parents of school children across the country for much of the preceding decade.
    Klein, D. (2003). A Brief History of American K-12 Mathematics Education in the 20th Century. Retrieved from
  • 2000 - NCTM updated standards

    A publication of Principles and Standards for School Mathematics. This publication described the mathematical content and processes that should be taught in school mathematics. This influenced the development of the Common Core State Standards.
  • 2001 - The No Child Left Behind Act - Focus taken Off Science

    The No Child Left Behind Act takes the focus off science education as teachers scramble to boost scores on math and reading tests.
  • 2010 - President Obama Set Priority To Increase The Number Of Students and Teachers Who Are Proficient In Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

    “Leadership tomorrow depends on how we educate our students today — especially in science, technology, engineering and math,” President Obama has declared.
  • 2011 - Next Generation Science Standards Developed

    The federal government was not involved in the effort to develop the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). It was state-led, and states are deciding whether or not to adopt the NGSS. The work undertaken by both the National Research Council (NRC) and Achieve has been supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. No federal funds were used to develop the standards.
  • 2009 - National Govenors Association (NGA) CCSS

    The state-led effort to develop the Common Core State Standards was launched in 2009 by state leaders, including governors and state commissioners of education from 48 states, two territories and the District of Columbia, through their membership in the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).