Unit 1: An Introduction to Next Generation Science Standards
What are the Next Generation Science Standards?
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are K–12 science content standards. These standards set the expectations for what students should know and be able to do by the end of the lesson/unit. The NGSS were developed by states to improve science education for all students. A goal for developing the NGSS was to create a set of research-based, up-to-date K–12 science standards. These standards give local educators the flexibility to design classroom learning experiences that stimulate students’ interests in science and prepares them for college, careers, and citizenship. (Next Generation Science Standards Website, 2020). The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are fairly new to the world of science education. The NGSS were released in 2013 and are now being implemented in states and districts across the nation. (Next Generation Science Standards Website, 2020). I first started using these standards in my own curriculum during the 2019-2020 school year. From my experience with creating lesson plans, NGSS encouraged me to design activities that motivate students to apply their scientific inquiry skills rather than to simply memorize information.
Why Should Teachers Use NGSS When Developing Lesson Plans?
According to the Next Generation Science Standards website, there are four main reasons why educators are now using NGSS to design science curriculum:
"1. It has been 15 years since science standards were revised. Since that time, many advances have occurred in the fields of science and science education, as well as in innovation-driven economy.
2. The U.S has a leaky K-12 STEM talent pipeline, with too few students entering STEM majors and careers at every level - from those with relevant postsecondary certificates to PhD's. We need new sign standards that stimulate and build interest in stem.
3. We cannot successfully prepare students for college, careers and citizenship unless we set the right expectations and goals. While standards alone are no silver bullet, they do provide the necessary foundation for local decisions around curriculum, assessments, and instruction.
4. Implementing improved K-12 science standards will better prepare high school graduates for the rigors of college and careers. In turn, employers will be able to hire workers with strong science-based skills - including specific content areas but also skills such as critical thinking and inquiry based problem solving." (Science Education in the 21st Century, 2012).
In the following video, Paul Andersen defines the NGSS and explains how they are used in science education. He also compares these new standards to the "old" way of teaching science.:
The Three Dimensions/Core Components of Science Learning
There are three dimensions/core components of the Next Generation Science Standards, and are defined as the following:
1. Cross Cutting Concepts
These concepts help students explore connections across the four domains of science, including Physical Science, Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Engineering Design. When these concepts, such as “cause and effect”, are made explicit for students, they can help students develop a coherent and scientifically-based view of the world around them.
2. Science and Engineering Practices
These practices describe what scientists do to investigate the natural world and what engineers do to design and build systems. The practices better explain and extend what is meant by “inquiry” in science and the range of cognitive, social, and physical practices that it requires. Students engage in practices to build, deepen, and apply their knowledge of core ideas and crosscutting concepts.
3. Disciplinary Core Ideas
These are the key ideas in science that have broad importance within or across multiple science or engineering disciplines. These core ideas build on each other as students progress through grade levels and are grouped into the following four domains: Physical Science, Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Engineering. (Next Generation Science Standards Website, 2020).
The following video further explains the breakdown of the Next Generation Science Standards, as well as the three core concepts:
A Science Framework for K-12 Science Education
A Science Framework for K-12 Science Education provides the foundation for developing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). "The eight practices of science and engineering that the Framework identifies as essential for all students to learn and describes in detail are listed below:
- Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering).
- Developing and using models.
- Planning and carrying out investigations.
- Analyzing and interpreting data.
- Using mathematics and computational thinking.
- Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering).
- Engaging in argument from evidence.
- Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information." (Appendix F - Science and Engineering Practices in the NGSS. 2013)
Throughout this course, you should be able to identify these eight practices in each example that has been provided.
Self-Assessment for Unit #1
Now that you have completed Unit #1, you should be able to answer the following questions:
- What are the three core components of the Next Generation Science Standards?
- In what ways are the Next Generation Science Standards beneficial to students in the K-12 curriculum?
- What are the eight practices of science and engineering from A Science Framework for K-12 Science Education?
- How can you use the Next Generation Science Standards in your own classroom/curriculum?
After completing the self-assessment, please click on the following link to continue on to the next unit of this mini-course: Unit 2: Scientific Inquiry Skills for Elementary Students
Appendix F - Science and Engineering Practices in the NGSS. (2013, April). Retrieved December 7, 2020, from https://central-rivers-juiceboxinteract.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Appendix-F-Science-and-Engineering-Practices-in-the-NGSS-FINAL-060513.pdf
Next Generation Science Standards. (2020, September 03). Retrieved September 18, 2020, from https://www.nextgenscience.org/
SCIENCE EDUCATION IN THE 21ST CENTURY Why K 12 Science ... (2012, May). Retrieved November 11, 2020, from https://www.nextgenscience.org/sites/default/files/resource/files/Why%20K12%20Standards%20Matter.pdf
YouTube Links (listed in order of appearance):
Anderson, Paul. What Is the NGSS? and Why Is It Important? Bozeman Science. June 10th, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHTIhX527jQ&feature=emb_title How to Read the Next Generation Science Standards. Achieve, June 8th, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6eoRnrwL-A&feature=emb_logo