“We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.”
~ Carl Sagan
Now, more than ever, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education is critically important for the success of 21st century students. STEM disciplines permeate every aspect of our modern lives and access to high-quality, research-based STEM learning opportunities will ensure that all students are ready to meet current and future challenges, both locally and globally.
In order to meet the needs of our K-12 students, Vermont adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in 2013 to serve as a foundation for statewide STEM instruction. Based on the Framework for K-12 Education, the NGSS refocuses K-12 science and STEM education to improve readiness for college and STEM careers as well as preparing students to become informed, knowledgeable citizens. The standards are designed so that students apply scientific practices, ask questions, problem solve, make mistakes, and correct misconceptions, with the larger goal of reaching deeper scientific literacy.
Spotlight on Equity Resources
Educational equity means that every student has access to the resources, opportunities, and educational rigor they need at the right moment in their education, whatever their race, gender/identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, language, ability, family background, or family income may be. (Adapted from CCSSO, Leading for Equity.) The Spotlight on Equity Resource below provides a list of considerations and resources for the purpose of supporting equity and access while emphasizing high-quality and culturally sustaining learning opportunities for all students.
The Council of State Science Supervisors (CSSS) has released a series of one-pagers that districts and educators may find helpful when planning for face-to-face, blended/hybrid, and fully remote learning environments for the 2020-2021 school year.
In addition, consider how materials and teaching approaches being suggested can be used to:
- Support flexible scheduling and those with limited technology access.
- Engage students in meaningful science and STEM explorations, investigations, and/or sense-making.
- Encourage students to engage in activities that already happen in their homes with materials that families already have.
- Help students make explicit connections to their interests and identities.
- Provide students with choices for how they engage, what they investigate, and how they demonstrate learning.
- Support students in self-reflection related to content and process to support their science learning.
- Exercise sensitivity when referencing the current pandemic as a possible phenomenon to investigate.
A Vermont Portrait of a Graduate (PoG) serves to clarify the attributes a Vermont senior should be able to demonstrate upon graduation. These attributes have been collaboratively developed by Vermont students, community members and educators, and include cognitive, personal, and interpersonal skills and abilities that align well to science and STEM. Therefore, a robust PoG should be used as a tool to vertically align programmatic and instructional decisions K-12, as well as review and refine local proficiency-based graduation requirements.
Connection to Science and STEM
The discipline of science is linked to the AOE’s PoG through six learner attributes: Learner Agency, Academic Proficiency, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Communication, Global Citizenship and Student Well-being.
The following model crosswalks these attributes and their indicators with the NGSS and NGSS-based instructional practices to show how a strong science curriculum can serve as a vehicle for students to demonstrate proficiency.
Real-World Contexts Phenomena High Expectations Application Authentic Learning
Students become intrinsically motivated when they see the value of learning. As they investigate compelling, real-world phenomena, students apply obtained skills and knowledge to new and different contexts. Students that develop high expectations for themselves often learn to tackle challenging learning activities, produce high quality work and become life-long learners.
3D Learning Essential Concepts Effective Questioning Constructing Explanations Authentic Learning
Students that engage in authentic, three-dimensional learning develop the ability to apply scientific practice and content knowledge to new contexts. The application of these scientific practices and concepts, coupled with 21st century skills such as collaboration, innovation and self-direction, help prepare students to formulate and refine probing questions to further their learning, evaluate multiple models, and aids in designing explanations and solutions that are consistent with scientific ideas, principles and theories.
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Effective Questioning Carrying Out Investigations Inquiry Constructing Explanations Analyzing Data
When students use inquiry-based science that incorporates all three dimensions of the NGSS, they practice the use of evidence, logic and creativity when investigating and developing explanations about the natural world. Analysis of data collected from an investigation creates the evidence a student needs to answer their own questions and/or explain their thinking. The practices involved when students solve real-world problems and build explanations may challenge their preconceived notions and lead to new understandings about the world in which they live.
Constructing Explanations Analyzing Data Equity Conscious Decisions
As students move into adulthood, they must evaluate and communicate important ideas from multiple viewpoints presented in different media. To be critical consumers of information and to develop the ability to recognize methodological flaws and sources of error, students need to discern between observation and inference. In order for students to make conscious decisions about their world, they will need to be able to evaluate the merit and validity of claims, methods, and designs.
Conscious Decisions Equity Multiple & Independent Resources Complex Relationships Responsibilities
The global economy is fueled by advances and breakthroughs in science, technology, and engineering. Students will be entering a globally competitive world that will require the application of science knowledge and practices to new situations. In order for students to be prepared to discover new knowledge, solve challenging problems, make conscious decisions, and generate innovations. They will need to be able to connect content and practice using cross-curricular concepts to make sense of the world and approach problems not previously encountered.
Social Interactions Social Awareness Engaging in Argument Responsibilities
Science is a social discipline at its core where scientists and engineers communicate with one another to refine ideas, gather feedback, refute claims and share findings. Students engaging in scientific discourse will encounter opposing viewpoints which will require them to share and clarify their own thinking, listen to others, deepen their own reasoning and, ultimately, collaborate with peers to come to a shared understanding of science phenomena and a better awareness of self.
- Implementing the NGSS: Hallmarks of a Fully Realized School System
- Model Course Mapping for Middle and High School Standards
- NGSS District Implementation Workbook and Implementation Indicators
- NSTA: Planning an NGSS Curriculum
- State and Local Assessment Information and Resources
- Guidance for K-12 Science Laboratory Safety
- Five Tools and Processes for Translating the NGSS Into Instruction and Classroom Assessment
- NSTA NGSS Webinar Seminar Series are 90 minute, live professional development experiences over a variety of different NGSS topics.
- NSTA: Designing Units and Lessons
- NSTA: Selecting Learning Materials
- Supporting the Implementation of NGSS through research: Curriculum Materials
- Anchoring Phenomena: The importance of phenomena-based science education
- Phenomena as described by the Next Generation Science Standards
- Criteria for Evaluating Phenomena
- EQuIP Rubric for Lessons and Units: Science
- NGSS Lesson Screener
- NSTA NGSS Tools for Unpacking and Aligning Current Practice to NGSS
- Primary Evaluation of Essential Criteria (PEEC) for NGSS Instructional Materials Design
- Destination Imagination encourages teams of learners to have fun, take risks, focus and frame challenges while incorporating STEM, the arts and service learning.
- National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) addresses the declination of students that are prepared to take rigorous college courses in math and science and are equipped for careers in those fields.
- NGSS Engineering Hub provides an NGSS engineering design-aligned curriculum. Focuses on hands-on activities by grade and focus on the engineering design component of the NGSS.
- Research and Practice Collaboratory engages researchers and practitioners around the country in an effort to address the gap between educational research and practice in STEM education.
- STEM Education Coalition works to support STEM programs for teachers and students at different government agencies that offer STEM-related programs.
- TeachEngineering Digital Library is a searchable, web-based digital library collection comprised of standards-based engineering curricula for use by K-12 educators.
- Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards for Diversity and Equity
- Engaging English Learners in the Science and Engineering Practices
- Ethics and Bias in the Practice of Science (Wisconsin DOE)
- Girls and the Next Generation Science Standards
- How Can We Promote Equity in Science Education?
- How to Launch STEM Investigations That Build on Student and Community Interests and Expertise
- Making the NGSS Accessible to All Students
- Supporting the Implementation of Equity
- Students with Disabilities and the Next Generation Science Standards
- Teaching STEM In Ways that Respect and Build Upon Indigenous Peoples’ Rights
- The Vermont Science Teachers Association
- American Association for the Advancement of Science
- American Chemical Society - Division of Chemical Education
- American Geosciences Institute
- Geological Society of America
- National Association for Research in Science Teaching
- National Science Teachers Association
- School Science and Mathematics Association
- The Association for Science Teacher Education
Email Margaret Carrera-Bly, or call (802) 828-5930.