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Next Generation Standards Change the Game for Science Education

March 28, 2017

Next Gen Standards for science

It’s not news that American students lag behind their international counterparts in math and science. Math and science skills have become essential for most careers, and scientific and technological literacy is increasingly important for an educated society. These facts were the original drivers in developing the Common Core State Standards in math. Transforming science education is now the focus of new standards—the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)—which are being implemented in order to address these issues that ultimately affect U.S. competitiveness.

So how do the new standards impact science education, the science classroom, and ultimately students? Every NGSS standard has three dimensions: core ideas (content), scientific and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts. One of the key principles is ensuring that the teaching of science content is integrated with the practices of scientists and engineers. This approach leads to lessons and projects grounded in real-world practice and applications. Students practice scientific and engineering methods that are more authentic than memorization of content. Science education rooted in real-world context encourages students to understand concepts more deeply, be more engaged in their learning, and gain an appreciation and interest in STEM fields and careers. And it is probably a whole lot more fun.

The Next Gen Standards hold promise for transforming the science classroom if successfully implemented. However, just as Common Core created challenges for educators, NGSS is proving to be an uphill climb for novice and veteran teachers alike. For NGSS to make an impact on lagging achievement, and prepare students for college and career success, teachers need to be trained differently. KCI is addressing this need with a new program: MADE Science. MADE stands for Modeling, Analysis, Design & Engineering. This 30-hour program leverages low/no-cost technology to tightly link math concepts with science principles and real-world engineering challenges.

KCI ran the beta version of MADE Science last summer, hosted by the San Mateo County Office of Education, and is preparing to offer the program again this summer. MADE provides teachers with training, high-impact lesson plans, and the coaching needed to implement NGSS. With a project-based approach to science education, teachers learn about design thinking, and each day starts with a design challenge. New for this year, MADE will include a day-long “practicum” where teachers work with students to test out NGSS-aligned lesson plans.

To learn more about MADE Science, contact Kyle Brumbaugh at

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