The goal of science education is to develop science literate students and life-long learners. Students will experience the excitement of doing science and understand the impact of science concepts, processes, and connections in their lives as individuals, community members, and citizens. Students will also realize the constancy of the nature of science in order to question and answer future challenges.
The Next Generation Science Standards are the basis for science units and instruction in kindergarten through eighth grade. There are three dimensions that are combined to form each standard:
Dimension 1: Practices
The practices describe behaviors that scientists engage in as they investigate and build models and theories about the natural world and the key set of engineering practices that engineers use as they design and build models and systems. Participation in the below practices helps students form an understanding of the crosscutting concepts and disciplinary ideas of science and engineering; moreover, it makes students’ knowledge more meaningful and embeds it more deeply into their worldview:
1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
2. Developing and using models
3. Planning and carrying out investigations
4. Analyzing and interpreting data
5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
7. Engaging in argument from evidence
8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
Dimension 2: Crosscutting Concepts
Crosscutting concepts have application across all domains of science. As such, they are a way of linking the different domains of science. These seven crosscutting concepts bridge disciplinary boundaries, uniting core ideas throughout the fields of science and engineering. Their purpose is to help students deepen their understanding of the disciplinary core ideas, and develop a coherent and scientifically based view of the world. The seven crosscutting concepts are as follows:
1. Patterns. Observed patterns of forms and events guide organization and classification, and they prompt questions about relationships and the factors that influence them.
2. Cause and effect: Mechanism and explanation. Events have causes, sometimes simple, sometimes multifaceted. A major activity of science is investigating and explaining causal relationships and the mechanisms by which they are mediated. Such mechanisms can then be tested across given contexts and used to predict and explain events in new contexts.
3. Scale, proportion, and quantity. In considering phenomena, it is critical to recognize what is relevant at different measures of size, time, and energy and to recognize how changes in scale, proportion, or quantity affect a system’s structure or performance.
4. Systems and system models. Defining the system under study—specifying its boundaries and making explicit a model of that system—provides tools for understanding and testing ideas that are applicable throughout science and engineering.
5. Energy and matter: Flows, cycles, and conservation. Tracking fluxes of energy and matter into, out of, and within systems helps one understand the systems’ possibilities and limitations.
6. Structure and function. The way in which an object or living thing is shaped and its substructure determine many of its properties and functions.
7. Stability and change. For natural and built systems alike, conditions of stability and determinants of rates of change or evolution of a system are critical elements of study.
Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas
Disciplinary core ideas focus our kindergarten through eighth grade science curriculum, instruction and assessments on the most important aspects of science. Disciplinary ideas are grouped in four domains:
Physical sciences (Matter and Its Interactions; Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions; Energy);
Life sciences (From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes; Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics; Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits; Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity)
Earth and Space sciences (Earth’s Place in the Universe; Earth’s Systems; Earth and Human Activity)
Engineering, Technology and Applications of science (Engineering Design; Links Among Engineering, Technology, Science, and Society).
District # 37 will be revisiting and revising unit alignment to the NGSS science standards during the 2017-2020 school years.