A new science curriculum approved Tuesday will send Juneau (Alaska) School District elementary students out of the classroom and into the community.

Starting next year, guidelines for kindergarten through fifth-grade students will emphasize “place-based” and “culturally relevant” learning, two approaches taking hold in national teaching standards. The new curriculum was also written with Next Generation Science Standards, a national framework written by a group of 26 states.

The 82-page document guides teachers in lesson and unit planning. It was developed with extensive input from local scientists, Tlingit elders and teachers, authors Carin Smolin and Pam Garcia said. The curriculum was last updated in 2011.

The idea is to have science learning more closely mimic science work: the scientific process always starts with a question or an observation based in the real world. Place-based learning progresses similarly.

“It’s not about memorizing scientific facts, it’s more about thinking and acting like scientists and engineers because in the real world, you observe phenomena and then you wonder and you ask questions and you make connections to learn about how the world works,” Garcia said.

Click here to read the full story in the Juneau Empire (Feb. 15, 2018)

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