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Next Generation Science Standards Just Around Corner

April 4, 2013

This was a good article, Three Reasons to Like the New Science Standards, written by Arthur H. Camins, Director of the Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education at Stevens Institute of Technology in NJ, in Education Week.  He proposes three reasons why these new standards, Next Generation Science Standards, will support and advance a more innovative approach to the teaching of science in the US. Here is a summary of what he writes.

First Reason: Based on the earlier drafts, they would promote scientific thinking, which is the bedrock of informed democratic participation. Already, there is a choir singing in behalf of improved science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, learning. The lyrics of their songs are all about preparing students for the demands of 21st-century jobs and enhancing U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace. These are vital goals.

Second Reason: The standards will elevate the importance of understanding the engineering design process. Why is it important for students to learn about engineering? Virtually everything we use to survive and thrive is engineered. A broad understanding of engineering design and examination of the values that influence decisions should be an essential feature of every student’s education.

Third Reason: The next-generation standards will push at the boundaries of learning in two significant ways. (1) They will build toward the most durable features of schooling: long-term memory and knowledge transfer—the ability to retrieve and apply skills and concepts to novel situations. (2) These new standards will challenge our current notions of when complex ideas can be introduced to students. For example, the standards drafts proposed introducing sophisticated ideas, such as properties of waves, in elementary school. They also challenge all students to represent, test, and revise their initial science and engineering models in more-conscious and systematic ways than ever before.

We are still deeply immersed in a conversation around the US on how to implement the Common Core Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics with fidelity. Articles are written daily about the struggles currently underway across the US. We still do not have a handle on whether teachers are being properly and consistently trained or given sufficient time to integrate the Common Core framework into their existing curriculum.

As we get closer to launching the Next Generation Science Standards, we will have to consider how science teachers across the country will be informed, trained, and given the time to implement these standards well.

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