Thursday, December 27, 2012

Science Classes of the Future

We've all heard it at least once in our lives: "When I was a kid..." Sure, there was once a time that you sat in a science classroom and watched your teacher scrawl on the board, drew a few pictures yourself on a worksheet and called it a day as the bell rang. Once you got home, you opened your textbook and studied more images of what was taught that day in class and that was that.

Now, there's much to be said about these teaching methods, but walk into a science classroom next year and as students learn how chemicals combine to form new substances they're manipulating foam or paper mache models to show how bonds are made, or moving electrons around on a computer screen or tablet, testing what happens when a transfer occurs.

As John Martin on CNN illustrates, science classrooms across America will begin to change next year when 26 states expected to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) implement the new standards in their classrooms. How students effected by NGSS learn will even be different than their older siblings did. 

The goal of NGSS is to have students gain an understanding of science, technology, engineering and math that makes them competitive on a global scale. So what does this mean? It means that students of the next generation will be making models, solving problems and getting messy - hands-on activities that lead to self-discovery and better understanding of subject matter.

Not surprisingly, the most noticeable differences will be seen in classrooms. Listening to lectures and then drawing a model or two will become a thing of the past. Instead, students will create models that represent a cell or an atom - often on a computer - and then use that representation to collect data and make predictions.

Now, if you're worried about the dollar signs that come along with NGSS, don't be. NGSS isn't about fancy, cutting-edge equipment; instead, it's about getting students engaged, involved and excited about STEM fields. Hopefully this will increase their likelihood to pursue STEM careers upon graduation from high school. 

Read Martin's entire report on the future of science classrooms and NGSS.

(And make sure you check out the video embedded in the article. Pay close attention to the first few seconds of the video and you'll see Swift scopes!)