A Brief History of ASTE

The Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE) (formerly AETS) had its origins in the late 1920’s with a series of visits, conferences and meetings of people involved in educating science teachers. In 1923 S. Ralph Powers was invited by Dean James E. Russell to Teachers College, Columbia University to join the faculty. Dean Russell urged Powers to visit various science teacher training institutions and confer with faculty on science teacher education standards. Visits to several campuses were followed by invitations to return the visit and come to the Columbia University campus. ASTE grew out of these mutual interchanges in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s.

Small roundtable conferences of science teacher educators were organized by Powers and his associates. There was general agreement that these conferences were helpful and that they should be held regularly. In 1929 and 1930 a small group of heads of departments of science in institutions primarily devoted to teacher education planned a somewhat larger meeting for the autumn of 1930. Announcements were sent to the presidents of teacher education institutions throughout the East, inviting members of each science department to attend. Other invitations went to city and state supervisors in the region. A large response led to a very successful conference. The participants urged the Department of Natural Sciences at Teachers College, Columbia University, to make the conference an annual event.

A committee of four met and corresponded to plan the first formal conference of ASTE that used a printed program. All science teachers from the northeast region were invited to this conference that was held in October, 1932 at Teachers College, Columbia University. Reports were given on the status of science teacher education in the represented states. Subsequent conferences were held twice annually in November and April, each lasting for two days. The 1935 meeting was titled “Conference on the Education of Science Teachers Colleges.” Except for the war years of 1942-1946, this name was retained for annual meetings until 1953. Three regional sections were established in 1952 Ð Eastern, Midwestern, and Southern Sections.

At the business meeting in 1953, members of the “Conference on the Education of Teachers in Science” voted to change its name to the Association for the Education of Teachers in Science. In 1959 ASTE became a section of NSTA and an associated organization of AOTE. A constitution and a set of by-laws were adopted in 1960. The Guideline for the Doctorate in Science Education was published with financial help from the Shell Foundation and the Higgins Fund of Harvard University and mailed to all ASTE members in 1967. In 1968 Volume I of the ASTE Newsletter was compiled and mailed to all members. This newsletter evolved from the practice of compiling and mailing papers presented at the annual convention. In 1969 ASTE inaugurated the Outstanding Young Science Educator Award with financial support from the Shell Foundation. The first ASTE Yearbook, A Review of Research on Teacher Behaviors by Balzer, Evans and Blosser was published in 1974. During 1978 ASTE appointed its first Executive Secretary, Bill Brown for a five year term. He was followed in 1983 by Jill Wright, who was followed in 1988 by Bill Baird, and Joe Peters in 1994.

Reference: ASTE: An Outline of the History of the Association for the Education of Teachers in Science. Willard J. Jacobson. March 25, 1977.