The National Academy of Sciences has defined scientific literacy as ‘‘the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision-making, participation in civic and personal affairs, and economic productivity.’’
How scientifically literate we are in the United States is really open to question. A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press (2009), finds that only 28% of American adults currently qualify as scientifically literate. Also, most scientists (85%) also think that one of the major problems for science is that the public does not know very much about science.
It is in this social context that the multi-organizational web site, Science .gov, was launched in 2002. Given the statistics mentioned above, the need for such a site that attempts to provide accessible and understandable information about science and its application in our lives, is sorely needed.
The website is the result of the collaborative effort of 17 U.S. government science organizations within 13 Federal Agencies. These agencies form the voluntary Science.gov Alliance which governs Science.gov. "Currently in its fifth generation, Science.gov provides a search of over 55 scientific databases and 200 million pages of science information with just one query, and is a gateway to over 2100 scientific Websites."
October 2012 marked a major update to Science.gov , in honor of its 10th Anniversary. The current iteration of the web site provides many advanced features and capabilities :
• Accessing over 55 databases and 200 million pages of science information via one query
• Clustering of results by subtopics, authors, or dates to help you target your search
• Wikipedia results related to your search terms
• Eureka News results related to your search terms
• Mark & send option for emailing results to friends and colleagues
• Download capabilities in RIS
• Enhanced information related to your real-time search
• Aggregated Science News Feed, also available on Twitter
• Updated Alerts service
• Image Search
In the coming years, scientific innovation will have an ever increasing role in our daily lives and the global economy. Successfully dealing with emerging technologies and their attendant ethical questions, will require a more scientifically aware and literate citizenry. A broad-based educational program like Science .gov, is providing a key component in this effort.
Congratulations to the Science.gov Alliance for ten years of exemplary service to the public !