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​The Next Generation Science Standards - Disciplinary Core Ideas

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If you teach science in the US, then no doubt you will have been introduced to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) which were released in April 2013. However, you may not yet be familiar with them or have a clear view on how you will make changes in the classroom in order to teach to this new framework.

The NGSS are to science what the Common Core State Standards are to English and Mathematics. They are a set of guidelines, a framework for K-12, for the teaching of science from elementary through to high school.

The backbone of the NGSS are three core units: ideas, practices and concepts, which are designed to enable students to leave school scientifically literate. These units are sub-divided into:

  • 44 disciplinary core ideas which cover physical sciences, life sciences, earth and space sciences, engineering technology and applications of science
  • 8 science and engineering practices
  • 7 crosscutting concepts

For the rest of this post we will be looking at the core concepts in more detail.

Core concepts - what's changed?

The NGSS framework focuses on fewer topics than are currently taught in most states. The idea behind this is to allow teachers to spend more time on each core idea ensuring greater exploration and student understanding. It also makes sure that precious time in the classroom is spent focusing only on the important key concepts that underpin science.

Another major change is that the core concepts are content with progression. Key scientific ideas will be taught more than once, each time becoming more in-depth to match students' cognitive abilities. This spiral approach to the curriculum will allow children to continually build on, and revise, knowledge and abilities.

Scitt Kits match the core ideas and aid progression

There are Scitt Kits available that cover core ideas for Kindergarten to Grade 5 students and beyond; covering Physical, Life and Earth sciences. Most importantly, if you are teaching to the NGSS framework we have kits that cover core ideas at different grades, offering progression.

For example, one core idea is PS2.A - Forces and motion. The standard for K-2 is 'Pushes and pulls can have different strengths and directions, and can change the speed or direction of its motion or start or stop it.'

A great way of looking at the effects of forces with young children is to explore magnets. The Scitt Kit 'Magic with Magnets' can be used with Kindergarten children and introduces magnets using a very simple investigation. They use their natural sense of curiosity to group materials as magnetic or non-magnetic. Progression can be introduced by using the Scitt Kit 'Magnetic Strength - Magnetism' with first-graders. Here, they build on their understanding of magnets and also their investigation skills to look at how magnets can provide both pushes and pulls and how their strength can be altered.

The standard for grades 3-5 includes 'The effect of unbalanced forces on an object results in a change of motion'

An ideal Scitt Kit to introduce this concept in grade 3 is 'Falling Bodies'. This Kit provides all the equipment needed for an investigation into the variables that affect the speed of a falling body.

For older children, the Scitt Kit 'Stopping and starting' allows them to investigate the forces of inertia, gravity and friction and can be used to introduce Newton's Laws of Motion.

For more ideas on how Scitt Kits can be used in your lessons please take a look at our product pages. Also, look out for other blog posts which will cover further aspects of the NGSS and how Scitt Kits can support the learning of your students as you start teaching to the new framework.

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