Next Gen Science Standards unveiled

Next Generation Science Standards, which aim to teach scientific thinking as well as knowledge, were announced Tuesday, reports, the New York Times. Science teachers, scientists and federal science developed the guidelines, collaborating with 26 states that have pledged to consider adopting them.

The focus . . . (is) on learning how science is done: how ideas are developed and tested, what counts as strong or weak evidence and how insights from many scientific disciplines fit together into a coherent picture of the world.

 

. . . educators foresee more use of real-world examples, like taking students to a farm or fish hatchery to help them learn principles of biology, chemistry and physics.

They want students to learn to construct at least basic versions of scientific models — the simplified representations of reality that undergird tasks as diverse as building a skyscraper that will not collapse, designing a drug to treat illness and accurately predicting the effects of global warming.

In addition to the 26 states involved with the standards-writing process, several others are expected to consider adoption. However, the standards’ call for teaching evolution and man-made climate change may be an issue in some states.

“The standards identify climate change as a core concept for science classes with a focus on the relationship between that change and human activity,” reports the Los Angeles Times.

Middle school students, for instance, will be taught that human activities, including the use of fossil fuels and the subsequent release of greenhouse gases, are “major factors” in global warming. A proposed high school standard requires students to explain, based on evidence, how climate change has affected human activities through such phenomena as altered sea levels, patterns of temperature and precipitation and the impact on crops and livestock.

. . . Other topics set for more thorough study include genetic engineering and its real-world impact on food and medicine.

Conservatives haven’t attacked the Next Gen Science Standards — so far.

James Taylor of the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based conservative think tank, told Ed Week the standards are an improvement. “They are more balanced and fair than most educational guides I have seen put out by advocacy groups or self-professed science groups,” Taylor said.

Everyone agrees that teachers will need training to teach the new science standards.

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Comments

  1. I think teaching science content is great. I wish they would do it!!
    What a pity the standards are more interested in pushing propaganda in the form of climate change scary stories than in recommending solid content in the fields of physics, thermodynamics, meterology, botany, civil engineering, solar radiation, cloud formation, respiration, computer science (esp. modeling and its limitations), etc. Global warming has essentially stalled since 1998, and the computer models’ dire forecasts are not playing out as we were threatened. Sure there are still regional variations in weather…that has been going on for literal ages, though, and has yet to be proven to be due to our choice to drive an SUV sometimes.
    A couple of years ago, we had a friend over who was teaching middle school science. She heard me explaining to my little children that carbon dioxide is a gas that we breathe out and that plants need to live; in surprise, she remarked that she had kind of forgotten about the good side of carbon dioxide because she had been teaching about global warming and carbon footprints. Does that mean her students learned to feel guilty for being alive and using fossil fuel resources but came out of science class not realizing that plants require carbon dioxide to live? That’s not science class, that’s church!

  2. D's Squirrel Food says:

    I’ve no objection to the NGSS – scientific thinking and content knowledge are both important, and a science education is incomplete without a healthy dose of both. We’ll see how the standards actually impact classroom teaching. My state currently has good standards but teachers struggle to adequately address them all. Part of the problem is the advancement of science – we know a lot more now than we did 50 years ago, and much of that new knowledge (largely in biology and climate science) is appropriate for school aged children. The teaching of history has the same issue. But we don’t allocate more time to science and history. Instead, we double up on ELA, and the kids miss out on cornerstones like evolution, homeostasis, and thermodynamics. Not much post-WWII gets covered in American history, either.