Stoneman Elementary School in Pittsburg, CA, is one of numerous schools throughout the state that are using curriculum provided by science education nonprofits to teach the state’s new Next Generation Science Standards.

Science lessons provided by nonprofits are an attractive option for some teachers, especially as schools roll out the new science standards, said Lisa Hegdahl, president of the California Science Teachers Association and an 8th-grade science teacher in Galt in rural Sacramento County.

The state has not yet adopted textbooks and other instructional materials for the new science standards, so teachers trying to teach the standards “are pretty much on their own,” she said.

“There is nothing right now, so we’re all looking for these gold mines of information we can use in the classroom,” Hegdahl said.

Galt Unified, where Hegdahl teaches, is one of eight districts selected as “early adopters” of the new standards. Hegdahl has used free curriculum material from science education nonprofits such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, NASA, the Exploratorium and other sources, and found it to be “extremely useful,” not just for students but for her.

The California Academy of Sciences is one of the state’s largest providers of free online science lessons. The San Francisco science museum provides dozens of K-12 lesson plans, covering everything from phases of the moon to earthquakes to “the secret lives of sharks.” Field trips, teacher training workshops, online classes, videos, games and “citizen science” toolkits are also among the offerings.

California’s new science standards focus on hands-on projects, rather than rote learning, and core concepts taught through several scientific fields at once, such as how “cause and effect,” applies to physical science, life science, engineering, and earth and space science.

Click here to read the full story in EdSource (June 4, 2017)


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