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“What Should I Look for in the Science Program in My Child's School?”

A Guide for Parents developed by SciMathMN

Parents often ask, What can I do to support good science education?

One of the most helpful things parents can do is support not only their student, but also the schools and teachers in their district. Be involved in your child's course choices and know what goes on inside the classroom. Look around. There are several things that are evident in standards-based teaching and learning environment:

Instruction is "hands-on, minds-on" with students using materials to experience active science.

  • There are adequate and safe facilities, equipment and materials for science activities.
  • There are clearly stated goals for the science program, science units and science lessons.
  • Textbooks are used as references rather than the main source of science lessons.

Students are encouraged to ask questions about the world around them and practice science skills.

  • Students' science experiences teach them to connect science concepts to their experience, see how human nature influences science, and explore how science and technology affects their lives.
  • The science classes include activities that engage students in applying their science skills and understandings to examine social issues, solve real problems and make decisions.
  • Students have the opportunity to use a variety of equipment and technology in their scientific investigations.

Students learn how to find out and make up their own minds by experimenting and investigating how the world works rather than just memorizing facts.

  • Students are learning how to conduct scientific inquiry and use data to explain their conclusions.
  • The process of investigation and explanation is just as important as knowing "the" answer.

Students' science learning experiences are activity centered and use a mix of whole-class activities, large group presentations, working in groups, and individual activities.

  • Students talk about science, sharing ideas, predictions and explanations with each other as well as the teacher.
  • Students have many ways to show their science learning, such as doing projects or teaching others, not just taking paper-and-pencil tests.
  • The Minnesota Graduation Standards provide the focus of instruction and assessment.
  • Assessments match state and local standards and are used appropriately to plan instruction and evaluate understanding.

All students, regardless of age, gender, cultural or ethnic background, disabilities, aspirations, or interest and motivation are provided the opportunity to actively learn challenging science.

  • Teachers expect all students to succeed, help them set high goals for themselves, and listen to students' explanations of their ideas.
  • Learning science is considered important for all students. portunities for students to learn about and explore the natural world in their community.

Students have frequent and consistent opportunities to participate in active science learning.

  • Students have science experiences and activities every day.
  • Students are being taught science every year, beginning in kindergarten and continuing until high school graduation.
  • Students study life science, Earth & space science, and physical science in their science program.

Teachers have opportunities to improve their science teaching through workshops, courses, planning sessions, coaching, and scheduled time to plan.

  • Teachers have access to the training and resources needed to implement the Minnesota Graduation Standards in science.
  • Teachers are confident teaching "hands-on, minds-on" science.

Teachers plan instruction that builds on what students know and think to increase students' scientific understanding.

  • Teachers use the Minnesota K–12 Science Framework to plan curriculum that is challenging, engaging and age appropriate.
  • There are resources and opportunities for students to do at-home science activities.

What can I do to support good science education?

  • Learn about and investigate the natural world with your child. You don't have to know all the answers.
  • Instill in your child the belief that he/she can succeed in science and that hard work pays off.
  • Encourage your child to read about science and scientists and provide opportunities for them to explore science in your community.
  • Learn to recognize a standards-based K-12 science program.
  • Talk with your child's teacher about their needs, concerns, and expectations for students in science.
  • Volunteer to help in the classroom during science activities and learn with your child.
  • Advocate for the resources necessary for a standards-based K-12 science program.
  • Learn about the Minnesota K–12 Science Framework and the Minnesota Graduation Standards in science and how they are used in the school's science program.
     

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