. "4 Exemplary Programs." Nurturing and Sustaining Effective Programs in Science Education for Grades K-8: Building a Village in California: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2009.
In 1997, at the age of 97, chemist, industrialist, and philanthropist Arnold O. Beckman stated that he wanted to improve the way science was taught to young children because of his concern that the United States was losing its competitive edge in science. Beckman “wasn’t extremely fond of the textbook-only method of teaching science,” said Jacqueline Dorrance, the executive director of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. He remembered vividly childhood experiments in his makeshift laboratory and felt that, by providing teachers with the tools they needed, students could have similar experiences.
In cooperation with the community, California State University at Fullerton, the National Science Resources Center in Washington, DC,2 the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana, California,3 the Exploratorium in San Francisco,4 and the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, California,5 the Beckman Foundation created the Beckman@Science Program. The program fosters hands-on, inquiry-based science for students in kindergarten through sixth grade and emphasizes quality curriculum, professional development, inquiry-based materials, and community and administrative support.
The program was offered to all of the schools and districts in Orange County for the first five years after the program was instituted in 1998. At the end of that period, 6 private schools and 15 school districts in Orange County had accepted the offer (see Figure 4-1). The foundation chose to work in Orange County for several reasons. First, that is where the foundation is headquartered, which enabled progress to be monitored more closely and in person. Second, Orange County is the fifth largest county in the nation, with more residents than 22 states, which means that the potential impact of the program could be enormous. Finally, Orange County has a very diverse population, with a higher proportion of English language learners than the state average. “We felt that if we were successful in Orange County, others might be encouraged by our