Local educators support proposed science standards
May 2, 2013
California students would delve into a deeper understanding of science topics including climate change under proposed national science standards released earlier this month.
The Next Generation Science Standards, developed by 26 states and science experts over the past year and a half, mark the first national movement in almost 15 years to update science curriculum around the country. The standards build annually on concepts taught in kindergarten and emphasize depth over breadth when it comes to science topics.
South Tahoe High School science teacher Joel Dameral predicts the new standards would revolutionize science learning in the district once implemented. He can focus on teaching fewer subjects and building on models rather than just relaying facts.
"It's going to be awesome … It's not just filing out bubbles. Students need to be able to read a text and pull out the information they need," Dameral said.
The Next Generation Science Standards would build on topics introduced in kindergarten through 12th grade, a coherent science education that Dameral praises. The most challenging part of implementation, which could begin next year, will be developing how departments communicate at the high school, according to Dameral. The science standards follow in the footsteps of the Common Core State Standards, national benchmarks that attempt to link subjects taught in different courses.
Implementation would require new staff training and more integrated courses, STHS Principal Ivone Larson said.
For the first time, national science standards would identify politically-touchy climate change as a core concept and would link global warming to human activities.
"Humans and other organisms will be affected in many different ways if Earth's global mean temperature continues to rise," the standards read. "Human activities affect global warming. Decisions to reduce the impact of global warming depend on understanding climate science, engineering capabilities, and social dynamics."
For Larson, climate change science is a realistic component of high school education.
"We need to present out students with this information. We need to present the most up-to-date scientific information so they're not afraid to talk about it," she said.
The public comment period for the standards will continue through May, with three open meetings scheduled for next week. A panel of science experts will review the feedback this spring and present its findings to the State Board of Education. The board will consider adoption of the science standards this fall, according to a California Department of Education press release.