Local students aren’t learning science by the book anymore.

Instead of memorizing facts or filling out worksheets, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) students are building their own solar water heaters or extracting DNA from strawberries. The projects serve as a jumping-off point for collecting and analyzing data, making graphs and writing about concepts. After making solar water heaters, students at Will Rogers Elementary School collected temperature data to understand which materials in the heaters made the water heat up the most and wrote scripts of commercials to sell their heaters.

“We’re looking at practices scientists really use every day, like asking questions, using tools and analyzing data,” said Dr. Irene Gonzalez-Castillo, director of curriculum and instruction.

SMMUSD has been working to incorporate the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) since 2016 and set a three-year plan in motion last fall. 

Click here to read the full story in the Santa Monica Daily Press (April 15, 2019)

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