Many recent calls for improvements in science education have focused on the compelling case that understanding science and engineering, now more than ever, is essential for everyone. Science, engineering, and the technologies they influence infiltrate every aspect of our lives today. Knowledge of science and engineering is required to make informed decisions on a daily basis, such as selecting alternative medical treatments or determining how to invest public funds for water supply options. In addition, understanding the extraordinary insights science has produced can be meaningful and relevant on a personal level, opening new worlds to explore and offering lifelong opportunities for enriching people’s lives. In these contexts, learning science is important for everyone, not just those who choose careers in these fields.
Recently, members of the Science Department attended the National Science Teachers Association’s (NSTA’s) Annual Conference. NSTA’s conference offered the latest in science content, teaching strategy and research to enhance and expand their professional growth. It was a unique opportunity to collaborate with science education leaders and peers.
“Many sessions at the NSTA conference focused on moving from one-dimensional to three-dimensional learning,” shared Jackie Miller, Director of Curriculum and Instruction. “It was very validating to hear from professionals in the field as they described the work FXW’s Science Department has been developing and implementing for the past three years. “Additionally, FXW’s monthly department meetings have given science teachers time to analyze our current curriculum from a three-dimensional lens so we can continue to grow and make improvements for next year.”
Most sessions used the guiding principles of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to relay topics based on best practices in science education. These standards describe a vision of what it means to be proficient in science and are designed to make science education more closely resemble the way scientists in the field work and think. The framework was created with a view of science as both a body of knowledge and a model or theory that continually extends, refines, and revises knowledge. It is comprised of three dimensions: practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas.
Practices-describe behaviors that scientists engage in as they investigate and build models and theories about the world around them. Practices also include the key set of engineering practices that engineers use as they design and build models and systems.
Crosscutting Concepts-have application across all fields of science and help make connections and provide an organizational schema. They include: patterns, similarity, and diversity; cause and effect; scale, proportion and quantity; systems and system models; energy and matter; structure and function; stability and change.
Disciplinary Core Ideas-are the fundamental ideas that are necessary for understanding a given science discipline. The core ideas all have broad importance within or across science or engineering disciplines, provide a key tool for understanding or investigating complex ideas and solving problems, and relate to societal or personal concerns.
FXW is committed to providing professional development for our faculty and staff to ensure that we remain ahead of the curve in our efforts to offer the highest quality education for our students.