Supporting Your Future Scientist

Parents-

llinois is among the 26 lead states that have worked collaboratively to update science standards, called Next Generation Science Standards, under the guidance of Achieve, Inc.  (source: ISBE) These internationally-benchmarked standards provide a new vision for K-12 science and engineering education and set the stage for a significant shift in how those subjects may be viewed and taught in Illinois and across the nation. The following is an excerpt from Scientific American blog explaining these changes that I thought you may find helpful. Click on the blue title to read the full article.

Why America’s Kids Need New Standards for Science Education

By Anna Kuchment | January 8, 2013 |

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are a comprehensive set of K-12 student “performance expectations” for the areas of Earth and space science, life science, and physical science. They integrate concepts of engineering and technology and develop ties to the math and English “Common Core” standards.

Simply put, the NGSS will revolutionize science education for most of the country, at least for the states that choose to adopt them. Though they contain the latest and most up-to-date findings of science, their strength lies in incorporating the latest and most up-to-date advances in pedagogy and educational research. The NGSS move away from presenting science as a list of facts to be memorized and present science as a set of practices to be done. In fact, every grade-appropriate performance expectation, each sentence, ties together a particular science content with a science practice; you cannot pull the content out into a list of factoids.

The aim of NGSS is to identify what students can do, not what they know. After all, if you want to know how many planets there are, you can always look that up on the web. If you want to understand why they are important and how they function as part of a system, the solar system, then there are a set of practices you should do, which the NGSS identify as (1) Asking Questions and Defining Problems, (2) Developing and Using Models, (3) Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, (4) Analyzing and Interpreting Data, (5) Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking, (6) Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, (7) Engaging in Argument from Evidence, and (8) Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information.

HOW CAN I HELP MY CHILD AT HOME?

The following is an excerpt from the National Science Teachers Association Parent Resource:

Set High Expectations

What you say to your child is important. But what may be even more important is what you don’t say.

Parents often convey their attitudes and expectations in indirect ways. If you tell your children, “I never liked science in school” or “I got my worst grades in science,” you convey the expectation that science classes will be boring or difficult, or worse, that you would accept low performance in science. On the other hand, if you say, “I wish I could do that experiment with you” or “I’m so glad that you are having opportunities that I missed,” you will open doors for your children.

Not every child, of course, is destined to seek a career in science. But every child should be able to become a scientifically literate adult, and all children should know that if they choose science as a career, they can succeed. Parental expectations can encourage positive attitudes and personal best.

Don’t forget, too, that girls are every bit as curious as boys are about science. Buy your daughter that tool kit. And remember that science is often “messy.” Recognize the difference between clutter that comes from enthusiastic activity and the sloppy piles that result from neglect.

Other Helpful Tips

  • Encourage your child to take things apart! Old toys, clocks, and household appliances are great lessons—and don’t worry about putting them back together!
  • Don’t forget about safety. Supervise young children as needed.
  • Discuss science and technology careers. When you encounter people in science-related careers, encourage your children to ask questions about these jobs and the training needed for them.
  • Explore informal education sites. Science centers, museums, and natural science institutions give children the chance to make independent discoveries and participate in scientific processes while having fun.
  • Check out science-related library books and read them together. NSTA publishes a list of outstanding children’s science trade books for kindergarten through 12th-grade students selected by a book review panel appointed by NSTA and assembled in cooperation with the Children’s Book Council (CBC).
  • Encourage children to explore awards programs and competitions that bolster science learning in the classroom.

Click the picture above to visit the NSTA website and to read more about helping your future scientist.