The Next Generation (of Science Standards) to Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before

As I’m sure many people will point out today and in the coming weeks,the Next Generation Science Standards has been released. The plan sets forth standard teaching practices and subjects for K-12 students, which (unbeknownst to me) was previously unstandardized. Twenty-six states have agreed to follow the plan, including my current state of Georgia, but not my home state Florida. The campaign was carried out entirely by the states with no federal aid—an accomplishment in its own right—and there is no mandate for the other twenty-four states to adopt the lesson plans.

As Bruce Alberts, Editor-in-Cheif of Science and a proponent of NGSS, says, “We must teach out students to do something in science class, not to memorize facts.”

Some conservatives are worried by thought of teaching children about evolution and climate change, especially in Kansas and Texas, but many are excited about the curriculum. Last year, Barbara argill, the Republican chairwoman of Texas’ State Board of Education, said there was a “zero percent chance” of Texas adopting the plan. Other organizations, mostly science-based, are excited for the plan.

“This is revolutionary in many respects,” Michael Wysession, one of the scientists who helped with writing the standards, said. “First of all, it is incredible to have most states in the country adopting a single standard. Having each state do its own thing has been really detrimental to the science and engineering education of this country and this is a tremendous step forward.”

I, personally, am very excited about the new approach for teaching science. I have long thought that current methods weren’t reaching students. Even into college, I thought chemistry was boring because previously I had been given a list of facts and scientist names to memorize and regurgitate on a test. Hopefully, the standards will not only help understanding but boost interest as well. Now if only there were standards set in place for teaching mathematics, we’d regain our position on the forefront of science.

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