A new wave of teaching science is taking shape at Kittatinny Regional High School and its sending districts, steering students away from learning about facts from a textbook and into learning real-world applications of science, complete with hands-on experiments and big-picture concepts.

Adopted by the New Jersey Board of Education in 2014, the Next Generation Science Standards are state mandated for K-12, and according to the New Jersey Department of Education’s Science Coordinator Michael Heinz, the standards shift a student’s thought process to “how things happen, why things happen and how the world works.”

Without a doubt, students will use science in their everyday lives during their school years and beyond and the standards are a way to break down those stigmas that surround math and science, in hopes to garner more interest and passion in those subjects, according to Heinz.

Kittatinny middle- and high-school science teachers as well as science teachers from the school’s sending districts, Fredon Township School, Stillwater Township School District, Sandyston-Walpack Consolidated School, and McKeown Elementary School in Hampton, attended and focused on how they, as teachers, could create three-dimensional thinking in their students, the basis behind the standards.

Knowing that it will take some time for schools to adjust, the state offered an implementation timeline with grades 6-12 implementing it by the start of 2016-17 school year, with many teachers already slowly introducing new lessons, and grades K-5 by the start of the 2017-2018 school year.

The framework of the standards, consisting of three different dimensions, is a vision of how the National Research Council indicates what it means to be proficient in science. Those three dimensions are practices, where students will behave like scientists, investigating and building models and theories about the natural world; crosscutting techniques, linking different domains of science, such as energy and matter and cause and effect; and disciplinary core ideas.

The Next Generation Science Standards were authored by a consortium of 26 states, including New Jersey, and are a culmination of a three-year, multi-step process undertaken by the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Achieve, Inc., with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Click here to read the full story in the New Jersey Herald (May 19, 2017)


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