The Beauty and Majesty of Science

Screenshot of homepage

Late last year, when we began to get serious about updating our website, the design team we were working with asked us to tell them what we liked in a website. So we started looking at the websites of other non-profit organizations with missions similar to NCSEenvironmental and educational groups, for example.

We quickly discovered that we were all drawn to websites such as those of the Nature Conservancy, National Geographic, and the World Wildlife Fund that featured gorgeous photographs of the natural world. So inspiring! So beautiful!

After coming back again and again to those sites, we began to ask ourselves why they worked so well. The realization was obvious in retrospectthose websites worked because the beautiful images directly reflected their missions: the images said: “support our organization and we will preserve the beautiful landscapes and animals you see here.” Much as we loved these sites, we realized that gorgeous nature photography just wouldn’t work for NCSE.

Because, ultimately, what we want is for anyone who finds their way to our website to understand NCSE’s mission and what we are doing to achieve it. And we’re not in the conservation business.

So what is the heart of NCSE’s mission? Not the beauty and majesty of nature (although we're all for nature around here), but the beauty and majesty of science. Our fundamental goal is to ensure that all students receive an accurate and effective education about evolution and climate change.

Our fundamental goal is to ensure that all students receive an accurate and effective education about evolution and climate change.

To successfully understand evolution and climate change (or any other science topic, for that matter), learners need to be given the opportunity to engage directly with evidenceto ask questions, gather evidence, develop possible conclusions, and then iterate that process until they are confident about their understanding. In short, to experience the process of science for themselves. What is powerful about science is its power to help us recognize and correct our misconceptions.

Well, that’s all very well and good, but how does a website get across the beauty and majesty of science? In the end, we decided to try to mirror the process of science: we start with a statement of the problemstudents are not getting the accurate and effective evolution and climate science education they deserve. Then we provide evidence about the extent of the problem—specifically, through survey data. Finally, we provide links to the three programs we have developed to address the problemSupporting Teachers, Catalyzing Action, and Breaking Down Barriersalways highlighting how we go about measuring their impact. Throughout, we invite visitors to seek out more evidence and to ask questions.

Turning a website into an authentic science experience is a tall order. I hope we achieved at least a first iteration (after all, science is an intrinsically iterative process!) and we sincerely welcome your feedback. Please let us know what you think and how we can make the site better.

One more very important note. Even though NCSE is a non-profit organization, when we first developed an online presence, the website was already taken. So NCSE chose the ungainly, and later, with all the attendant potential confusion. Fortunately, a new web extension recently became available: .ngo. The term “non-governmental organization” is perhaps more recognized internationally than in the U.S., but we are happy to no longer bear a web address that fundamentally misrepresents who we are. will continue to work, as will our old email addresses. Write us at either! We want to hear from you.

NCSE Executive Director Ann Reid
Short Bio

Ann Reid is the Executive Director of NCSE.

National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, EIN 11-2656357. NCSE is supported by individuals, foundations, and scientific societies. Review our annual audited financial statements and IRS 990 forms at GuideStar.

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