In an Orange County Register column called Living Textbooks, Maria Grant, a professor of Secondary Education at California State University, Fullerton, explores the Next Generation Science Standards.

As residents of this planet we are a part of it all – a part of the global society, a part of our local communities and a part of the natural environment. We strive to compete internationally in terms of technology and innovation. Our communities must be designed and sustained in functional, efficient ways. Additionally, we are charged with preserving and protecting our natural world as a place that can sustain us, and future residents, for the long term. We have a responsibility to our young people – the ones seated in K-12 classrooms, poised and ready for relevant and engaging learning.

Because science is so closely tied to the needs just noted, there is a call to action for our elementary, middle and high school teachers. Fortunately, they are heeding that call en masse to revise, reorganize and reconstitute old methods of instruction in favor of newer, research-based means of guiding learning for all. Teachers are altering curriculum to include the practices of engineering, design and stewardship, and they are using tools that are more relevant, more meaningful and more interesting to the children they teach.

The impetus for this forward move in science education comes from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The National Research Council (NRC) developed what it calls A Framework for K-12 Science Education, alongside the new standards (the NGSS). The goal of this is to support learning in ways that foster the following: the comprehension of science-related current events, informed decision-making when it comes to health care, innovation in technology and engineering on local and global scales and an integrated existence with our environment to maintain balance, flow and sustenance. The NGSS are for all students from kindergarten through 12th grade, and California educators across the state have been engaged in professional development, training, planning, and in some cases, implementation, to ensure that students will be prepared to be the engineers, scientists and informed voters of the very near future.

Click here to read the full article in the Orange County Register (December 13, 2016)

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