Supporting Creative Learning.

About RSF

President’s Welcome

Becoming a parent or a teacher is probably the most immediate and visceral way in which any of us has entered into our nation’s fierce debates over the state of public education, debates that have intensified since the signing into law of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002. Science teaching, in particular, has been the object of much scrutiny over the last decade. We hear increasingly alarming predictions about our failure to keep pace with the rest of the world. No less a technology innovator than Bill Gates testified before the U.S. Senate in 2007 that “we cannot possibly sustain an economy founded on technology pre-eminence without a citizenry educated in core technology disciplines such as mathematics, computer science, engineering, and the physical sciences . . . Yet in 2004, just 11 percent of all higher education degrees awarded in the U.S. were in engineering, mathematics, and the physical sciences – a decline of about a third since 1960” (for the full text of Gates’s Senate testimony see: www.gatesfoundation.org. Philanthropic foundations and scientific associations dedicated to addressing this imbalance have placed improving science education at the top of their agenda for the new century.

But what can we as parents and educators do to challenge declining interest and performance by our young people in the areas of science and technology? Bruce Alberts, former president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and editor-in-chief of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) flagship journal, Science, has called for a whole-scale rethinking of teaching at both the undergraduate and K-12 levels. Advocating “science as inquiry,” Alberts argued in a 2001 address to the National Academy of Sciences that students should be “encouraged to struggle with a problem and to discuss it with their classmates before being told the answer. The emphasis is on using evidence to make logical arguments, which requires the development of both analytical and communication skills. The aim is not to “cover the material,” but to empower students with the abilities they will need to be able to learn on their own.” (click for link).

Business leaders and prominent scientists agree: hands-on and project-based learning are the wave of the future. Rather than lament the state of things as they are, we need to join together with our talented teachers and school administrators to support a new approach to science education.

The Rhinebeck Science Foundation was born out of the conviction that community-based action can make a real difference in the lives of our children as learners. Bringing together faculty members, administrators and families in the Rhinebeck Central School District, the foundation represents our best energies and highest aspirations for the next generation. Our goal, as a volunteer-led, non-profit organization, is to work in partnership with the schools to foster an environment in which children recognize the importance of math, science and technology in every day life. So too, we seek to strengthen awareness of the vital connection between science, mathematics and technology and creative endeavors in the arts and literature, as well as skills of logic and reasoning central to citizenship and meaningful participation in society.

I am proud to report on the progress we have made since the foundation was begun in the fall of 2007. We look forward to working with all members of the community to realize our ultimate goal of establishing a one million dollar private endowment for public education in the Rhinebeck Central Schools. Seeking to fund programs that will impact learning at all grade-levels, our aim is to reach as many students as we possibly can, inspiring life-long habits of curiosity and learning.

I have had the pleasure of talking with many of you as the Rhinebeck Science Foundation has grown from a great idea to an even greater reality. My hope is to meet many more of you this year and to gain from your unique perspectives on the work we are undertaking. Let me invite you to share your expertise with us as we continue to build on our many accomplishments.

Jennifer Hammoud, President