Edward W. Scripps, a renowned journalist, and William Emerson Ritter, a California zoologist, founded Science Service, now known as Society for Science & the Public, in 1921 with the goal of keeping the public informed of scientific achievements. Scripps funded the project and Ritter served as the first scientific director.
Scripps and Ritter accomplished their goal by distributing the latest science research to the public through a news service for reporters. In 1922, due to interest from non-journalists, Science Service started distributing Science News-Letter, which became a magazine in 1926. The magazine featured articles on pneumonia vaccines, soil chemistry, the early days of atomic energy, the beginnings of modern genetics, and many other developments. It quickly grew into a prime source of science news for libraries, schools, and individuals, and its respected coverage helped grow science reporting in both newspaper and science circles. In 2008, Science Service became Society for Science & the Public (SSP) in order to better reflect the mission of the organization to advocate for science in the public interest.
SSP also recently launched a membership program including a focused effort to reconnect with program alumni. Support from individuals as members will help ensure that SSP can provide the highest caliber of programs and publications, while providing support for new efforts into the future. The alumni network will help SSP reconnect with the inspired and inspiring individuals who have participated in SSP’s programs over the past seven decades, while also offering them the unique opportunity to connect with each other.
SSP Educational Programs
The Science Talent Search® (STS) is the nation's oldest and most highly regarded science contest for high school seniors, launched first in partnership with Westinghouse, and since 1998 with Intel. Created in 1942 as a means for encouraging talented high school students to pursue a career in science or engineering, the Science Talent Search has become a celebrated institution. Seven decades since its launch, the program has recognized almost 3,000 finalists with $4 million in scholarships. Alumni include holders of more than 100 of the world's most coveted science and math honors. These include four National Medals of Science winners, eleven MacArthur Foundation Fellows, two Fields Medalists and seven Nobel Laureates.
After eight years of success with the Science Talent Search, Science Service created the National Science Fair for high school winners of local and regional science fairs, first held in Philadelphia in 1950. In 1958, the fair became international for the first time when Japan, Canada, and Germany joined the competition. This annual fair has since grown into the Intel® International Science and Engineering Fair® (Intel ISEF) with affiliated fairs in over 70 countries, regions, and territories. It has become the world's largest pre-college celebration of science and the world's only international science competition for students in grades 9 through 12. Dedicated to encouraging innovation, many corporate, professional, and governmental sponsors unite to present awards annually, now totaling over $4 million per year, to Intel ISEF finalists.
Both the Science Talent Search and the International Science and Engineering Fair have enjoyed title sponsorship from Intel since 1998.
From 1999-2007, Science Service partnered with Discovery Communications, Inc. to launch a new science tradition, the Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge. A program that celebrates the abilities of 5th-8th grade science fair winners, the program enabled middle schoolers to participate in a national science competition that emphasizes the student's ability to communicate about science. SSP continued the program in 2008 as the SSP Middle School Program. In 2010, SSP launched the Broadcom® MASTERS® competition in partnership with the Broadcom Foundation. As the national science, technology, engineering, and math competition for America’s 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, the Broadcom MASTERS™ (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars) competition will inspire and encourage the nation's young scientists, engineers, and innovators of the future.
In 2009, with the generous support of Intel, SSP launched its Fellowship Program providing funds and training to selected U.S. science and math teachers who serve under-resourced students, to enable interested and motivated students to perform high-quality independent scientific research.
A Parent's Perspective:
“Through their work, ongoing since the 1940s, they have opened the doors for generations of technical innovators.” – Parent
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