The Next Generation Science Standards are scheduled to be released this spring (after several drafts and comment periods). The NSTA journals continue a discussion with NGSS–A Focus on Physical Science (a similar article in the February issue dealt with life science). A Look at the NGSS has a one-page “Inside the NGSS Box” visual that describes the relationship between the standards, performance expectations, and supporting information.
But what would using these standards “look like” in a real classroom? The featured articles in this issue have examples of learning experiences and strategies that incorporate the NGSS:
The author of The Patterns Approach uses the question “How can we discover and use patterns in nature to predict the future or understand the past?” He describes the procedures used in his freshman physics class to guide students through the process of identifying patterns, which in this case are mathematical: linear, quadratic, inverse, and inverse square. Beyond Slopes and Points focuses on how graphs are used to describe the relationships between science phenomena (another example of patterns). The authors note that students often learn about graphing in a math class without the context of real data or science concepts. The article includes a lesson that uses activities related to shapes and categories—from observations to measurements to graphing to interpreting and predicting. No special equipment necessary! [SciLinks: Graphing]
Looking for ideas to connect chemistry to real-life situations? The author of The Ethanol Project* incorporates chemistry with role-play and writing in a project with implications beyond the classroom. She includes a scope and sequence chart for the activity, checklist on which you can base an evaluation rubric, and suggestions for adapting it to other topics in science. [SciLinks: Alternative Energy Resources]
The investigation described in What Color Do You See? is actually a foundation for more complex studies and questions. Students sort colored candies (or similar materials) under different colored lights. The lesson integrates visual perception and optics with graphing and data analysis. The author is affiliated with Project Neuron, whose website has more on this and other learning activities. [SciLinks: Color, Vision, Visible Light]
Banking on the Future addresses several misconceptions students may have about seed banks and their role in maintaining diversity. In addition to large seed banks, described in the article (and on SciLinks sites), the activity here guides students through the creation of their own classroom seed bank, with suggestions for discussion and the actual assembly of samples. [SciLinks: Seed Banks, Biodiversity]
*Don’t forget to look at the Connections for this issue (March 2013), which includes links to the resources mentioned in the articles. These Connections also have ideas you could adapt for handouts, background information sheets, data sheets, rubrics, etc.