New Hampshire’s current science standards are nine years old and will need to be updated soon. The Governor’s STEM Task Force, including business, teachers, scientists and many others, recommended that the starting point be the widely respected Next Generation Science Standards, based on the National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science Education. So in the coming months, the New Hampshire State Board of Education may begin the process of reviewing the standards.
A recent EdWeek article concisely captures the difference between the NGSS and traditional science teachers:
….a professor who helped lead the development of the Next Generation Science Standards, described the new standards as “a shift from learning about something to figuring out something.”
Brian J. Reiser, a professor of learning sciences at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., who was introduced as “the godfather of NGSS,” offered this example: “NGSS does not ask you to explain photosynthesis, NGSS asks you to explain how a tree gets all its stuff.”
- Traditionally, science classes have been taught a few different ways, he explained:
- Through application: The teacher presents the idea, then students do the lab experiment to see it in action.
- Through the “trust me” method: The teacher does the lab, then teaches the idea so kids understand what they just saw. “Why do we need to learn osmosis? Because you really need it in high school,” Reiser mocked.
- Through the “Mr. Wizard” method: The teacher does something awesome and says, “Isn’t this cool? How does this work?”
The NGSS storyline is different. Students are given a big question that they can relate to—a “mystery” of sorts. Through their investigation of that question, they hit on other phenomena along the way that they also need to investigate and explain.