By Jason Palmer
Science and technology reporter, BBC News
Prof Holman holds the government's top post in science education
John Holman, a lifelong champion of science and technology education, is among the scientists to appear in the New Year Honours list.
Professor Holman, who leads the National Science Learning Centre, is awarded a knighthood.
Prehistory expert Paul Mellars and RSPB director Graham Wynne also receive knighthoods, while nuclear physicist Sue Ion becomes a dame.
Further honours for scientists include two CBEs, three OBEs, and nine MBEs.
"I'm delighted; it's an enormous personal honour and somewhat overwhelming," Sir John told BBC News.
"But more importantly I think that it's a recognition of the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to the future of the UK and to the lives of millions of young people."
Sir John studied natural sciences at Cambridge University, going on to teach in a number of secondary schools and soon began advising on science education nationally and internationally.
In the late 1980s, when the National Curriculum standardised teaching across the UK, it was he who wrote the science curriculum.
After six years as headmaster of Watford Grammar School for Boys, in 2000 he came to the University of York as Salters Professor of Chemical Education, founding the National Science Learning Centre in 2004.
In 2006, he also became the first national director of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) for the government, a post Sir John refers to as "conducting an orchestra of groups inside and outside the government" where the sole motive is STEM education.
"We're in difficult economic times but it's quite clear that one thing this country is very good at is science and technology - but we need to maintain that and build on the strength of that as the core of a future economic strategy."
Also honoured is Sue Ion, a visiting professor at Imperial College London and chair of the UK Fusion Advisory Board, who becomes a dame for her services to science and engineering.
Prof Ion is a renowned expert in nuclear fuels and technology
A former head of technology for British Nuclear Fuels Limited, she has served as vice president of the Royal Academy of Engineering and on councils of the Engineering and Physical Sciences and Particle Physics and Astronomy research councils.
Graham Wynne, the head of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), has been awarded a knighthood for his services to nature conservation.
Paul Mellars, professor of pre-history and human evolution at the University of Cambridge, receives a knighthood for his services to scholarship.
Two Fellows of the Royal Society - physics professor Donal Bradley, of Imperial College London, and Alastair Fitter, pro-vice chancellor for research at the University of York, are made CBEs for their services to science and environmental science, respectively.