Overflow crowds argue for, against proposed science standards for Nebraska public schools

Climate change was a hot topic at the State Board of Education meeting Friday.

An overflow crowd was on hand as members of the public testified for about an hour and a half on the proposed new science standards for the state’s public schools.

The new standards, for the first time, would specifically include the teaching of climate change. However, students would “evaluate the reliability and validity” of climate models before making a project of future climate trends.

Both supporters and critics of the new climate change language spoke.

The favorable comments were mainly from educators, who said the standards include information students need to know. Some critics said the science on climate change is unsettled.

Click here to read the full story in the Omaha World-Herald (August 4, 2017(

Shifting the way we teach science education to help the next generation of scientists and engineers

More than 50 Maine science educators participated in a three-dimensional Science and Engineering workshop held by Thomas College’s Center for Innovation in Education, Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, and the Next Generation Science Exemplar System (NGSX) last month.

The program was designed to introduce teachers to the shifts in science teaching and learning, called for by the National Research Council’s “Framework for K-12 Science Education.”

This framework suggests a new set of standards – called the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Unlike the common core Math and English Language Arts standards, states may choose to adopt the science standards or not. Although Maine was one of the states involved in the original development of these science standards, they are in the Maine Legislature’s hands right now in the form of a bill.

Click here to read the full story in the Bangor Daily News. (August 4, 2017)

Teachers learn new style of sharing science with students

Greg Brown had been teaching science in the Bay Area for years when the idea came to him for a new style of teaching the subject.

Why not take classic science activities and add a twist — starting with exploration?

“Rather than telling it, let kids find out for themselves,” said Brown, whose colleagues describe as a local legend in STEM education. “A great thing about this new teaching style, you treat everything like a beta test.”

Well, the Next Generation Science Standards beat him to it, but his friend Kevin Brumbaugh from the Krause Center for Innovation at Foothill College was wondering how teachers were going to learn to implement the NGSS — the new method for teaching science hands-on.

From that interaction, MADE:Science was born.

With the help of Google classroom tech expert Rachel Freed, Brown — who has a background in engineering — and Brumbaugh designed the program.

Freed explained the program applies tech and mobile apps to enhance the hands-on learning, using slow motion technology and measuring devices to interpret trajectory and visualize testing.

Click here to read the full story in the Mercury News (August 1, 2017)

The Next Generation Science Standards’ next big challenge: Finding curricula

As states wrestle with putting the Next Generation Science Standards into action, one question I’m hearing more and more: What to do about curriculum?

It’s also a question that’s been on the mind of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, which provided major support to the groups that developed the framework and standards that evolved into the NGSS. Earlier this year, it convened a group of curriculum experts, many of whom worked on curricula development for groups like the National Science Foundation. This week they’re putting out a summary report on what they found (posted here for free download).

In the meantime, I spoke with Jim Short, a program director at Carnegie, about what he (and the conveners) concluded some of the major challenges are in developing strong curricula aligned to the standards. They fall into several different buckets.

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia, along with dozens of individual school districts, have adopted the standards, which put a heavy emphasis on engineering and having students apply their scientific knowledge, among other things. (If you’re just new to the NGSS, get up to speed with my colleague Liana Loewus’ great explainer on the topic.)

Click here to read the full blog by Stephen Sawchuk in Ed Week (July 24, 2017) registration required

Michigan teachers helping transform middle school science ed

Five area science teachers are among a select group of educators crafting the future of middle school science education through the Michigan Science Teaching and Assessment Reform project.

More than two dozen teachers from around the state are attending curriculum development workshops this summer in Midland, Clinton Township, Grand Rapids, Mount Pleasant and Houghton. With scientists, engineers and curriculum developers, they are creating a radically new science curriculum for grades 6-8 that meets the new Michigan Science Standards, which call for students to learn by thinking and acting like scientists and engineers.

Click here to read the full story in the Midland Daily News (July 24, 2017)

New science standards stoke exploration, discovery

As the Del Mar Union School District board learned about the new Next Generation Science Standards on June 28, district science specialists challenged them with a science experiment. Board members and district staff, including Superintendent Holly McClurg, donned safety goggles and got to work in pairs.

Through the lesson, they learned what the Next Generation Science Standards promotes — instead of teachers telling students what to do, the students lead their own exploration, look closely and make discoveries and conclusions on their own.

As explained by district science specialists Stacie Waters and Nancy Swanberg, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were developed by the states to improve science instruction and were adopted in September 2013. Since the adoption, district science specialists have been working toward the full implementation in 2018.

Click here to read the full story in the Del Mar Times (July 5, 2017)

Science is for kids

Proponents says Next Generation Science Standards will better prepare today’s workforce

Children at River Oaks Elementary School in Galt are more than just students. They’re scientists in the classroom and they do what scientists do — observe, ask questions, identify problems, gather data, analyze it and apply this knowledge in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to the real world.

Galt Joint Union Elementary School District is one of eight traditional districts and two charter management organizations selected to participate in California’s early implementation Initiative for K-8 of the Next Generation Science Standards. The four-year initiative launched in 2014 to cultivate teacher development, best practices and solutions in preparation for full implementation in all California districts by 2019, explains Kathy DiRanna, statewide director of WestEd’s K-12 Alliance, headquartered in San Francisco.

The new standards are designed to provide all students with a robust STEM education that includes an understanding of content and develops core competencies — communication, collaboration, inquiry, problem solving and flexibility — that will serve them throughout their educational and professional lives, and pave the way for increased innovation and economic growth.

Click here to read the full story in Comstocks Magazine (June 21, 2017)


Santa Clarita Valley teachers study California’s newest science standards

Teachers from the Santa Clarita Valley’s four elementary school districts are spending their summer vacations studying the state’s Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) during a three-day outreach training session at College of the Canyons.

“My biggest hope is from coming to these trainings is that we can remove some of the fear of doing science with the kids,” said Teresa Ciardi, chair of COC’s Earth Space and Environmental Sciences department who led the training session.

The NGSS standards were adopted by the State Board of Education in September 2013.  Since their adoption, school districts throughout the state have slowly begun implementing the standards before they fully take effect in the 2018-19 schoolyear.

With the NGSS, students are taught science and engineering concepts through three dimensions of science learning and grade-level aligned standards.  Overall, the dimensions work together to create an in-depth understanding of concepts while encouraging communication, collaboration and problem solving.

Click here to read the full story in the Santa Clarita Valley Signal (June 20, 2017)

Columbia teachers among thousands to receive anti-climate change materials

Columbia Public Schools science teachers are among hundreds of thousands across the country who have received a book from the Heartland Institute that denies that Earth is warming and that human activity is causing it.

Although 97 percent of scientists agree that global warming is caused largely by human activities, The Heartland Institute and its publications argue differently. Those arguments are central to the book the organization sent out starting last spring.

How climate change is taught

Up until about a year ago, the Columbia Public Schools curriculum on climate change used to be only about weather.

“It’s completely the opposite now,” said Mike Szydlowski, science coordinator for the Columbia Public Schools district.

Three years ago, the schools adopted the Next Generation Science Standards, which state that human activities are largely responsible for global warming and that global warming and climate change is real and requires solutions to reduce human impact on the earth. The state of Missouri adopted the standards as recently as a year ago.

“We didn’t want to wait for Missouri,” Szydlowski said. “We took a leap of faith.”

Columbia Public Schools revises its curriculum every seven years while the state undertakes revisions about every 15 years. Szydlowski said he thinks the schools will retain Next Generation Science for another six to seven years because of how good it is.

Climate change and global warming are introduced to fifth-graders and taught more comprehensively to seventh-graders, he said.

Click here to read the full story in the Missourian (June 16, 2017) Missourian




Iowa Teaching Standards Don’t Say Humans Cause Climate Change, But…

At first, people who reject predominant scientific findings that humans are the main cause of climate change may be glad that new public-school science standards don’t require teachers to teach that. But if inquiry-based teaching guides under development in the Iowa K-12 Climate Science Education Initiative are used, students may reach that determination on their own, educators say.

Click here to read the full article in the Des Moines Register (June 9, 2017)