By Debra Shapiro
Making the Grade? How State Public School Science Standards Address Climate Change
A new report from the National Center for Science Education and the Texas Freedom Network Education Foundation examines the treatment of climate change in state science standards across the country. To what extent are public schools helping students understand what is happening and preparing them to responsibly engage in civic deliberation on the problem and possible solutions? The interactive version of the report includes a map you can click on to learn your state’s grade.
SEL and Racial Equity
This policy brief from the Committee for Children (CFC) considers evidence-based strategies to promote racial equity that work in tandem with social-emotional learning (SEL) policy. In the brief, CFC identifies five policy areas to promote racial equity in K–12 education, along with analysis of how SEL is implicated: Promote Culturally Responsive Teaching; Implement Anti-Racist Education and Black Studies; Incorporate Trauma-Informed Approaches to Education; Reform School Safety and Discipline Practices; and Diversify and Support the Educator Workforce.
Seneca’s Science Virtual Learning and Homework Platform
This website features science education resources and online courses for grades 2–12. The platform uses a “smart algorithm,” which adapts for each student, to identify an individual’s specific learning gaps. As students work through the units in each course, learning content and answering questions, teachers track students’ learning progress and use the resulting data to create differentiated teaching plans and assign relevant homework tasks for individual students or the entire class. All the science courses are exam standard–specific and support the Next Generation Science Standards. Register for a free account to preview the available courses.
Check out the Bonneville Environmental Foundation’s Clean Energy (CE) Online Educator Library for a growing collection of teacher-created, hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities on renewable energy topics. The activities were developed by teacher participants in the Foundation’s CE program for educators and include resources for all levels K–12. For example, elementary and middle level students can complete projects such as Mini-Solar Houses, Solar Boats, and Solar Cars, each of which explore renewable energy concepts and culminate in an engineering design project. At the high school level, students explore circuit building and other concepts through projects such as Off the Grid or Illuminate Me, in which students apply understandings of circuitry and solar power to create a wearable garment that lights up.
Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education (CADRE) is a network for STEM education researchers funded by the National Science Foundation's Discovery Research PreK–12 (DRK–12) program. The network connects researchers working on initiatives to improve education in STEM and publishes materials to communicate information on important themes in STEM education. A recently published online document, Spotlight: Analyzing and Interpreting Data Across STEM Disciplines, highlights a group of projects focused on developing students’ data skills. The document features 16 noteworthy DRK–12 projects focused on building students' data skills through research and innovative curriculum and tools. The synopses include each project’s grade level, target audience, disciplines/subject areas, initial findings, key challenges, and products and publications.
While most projects target middle and high school levels (Climate Change Narrative Game; GeoHazard: Modeling Natural Hazards and Assessing Risks; Integrating Chemistry and Earth Science; Crowdsourcing Neuroscience: An Interactive Cloud-Based Citizen Science Platform for High School Students, Teachers, and Researchers), several projects target data skills at the elementary level (Schoolyard Science Investigations by Teachers, Extension Volunteers, and Students; CAREER: Engaging Elementary Students in Data Analysis through Study of Physical Activities).
Help students in grades K–5 stay healthy and safe with a podcast series from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The series contains more than 20 short (about one to three minutes each) podcasts on health topics relevant to children, including asthma, food allergies, food safety, handwashing hygiene, healthy snacks, packing healthy lunches, sun safety, vaccines, and water safety. Each podcast, available in both English and Spanish, also includes a written transcript.
Digital Computational Thinking Curriculum
Designed by Discovery Education and Tata Consultancy Services (a global information technology services organization), Ignite My Future in School is a transdisciplinary digital curriculum to engage students in computational thinking strategies across core subject areas. The curriculum features 40 standards-based, digital activities emphasizing the components of computational thinking, which include processes such as collecting data, analyzing data, finding patterns, decomposing problems, abstracting, building models, and developing algorithms. Activity highlights include Outbreak, an integrated math and science exploration in which students collect and analyze data to devise a flow chart to identify and stop a spreading virus, and Trouble in the Lab, an integrated science and English language arts activity in which students use the computational thinking strategies of finding patterns and developing algorithms to investigate different types of scientific bias. Activities can be searched by computational thinking strategy, core subject, or guiding question.
Climate Science, Risk and Solutions: Climate Knowledge for Everyone
MIT's Environmental Solutions Initiative offers an interactive climate change primer written by Kerry Emanuel, a professor in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences. The online document aims to answer these questions: How do we know climate change is occurring and that it’s caused by humans? How strong is the evidence? What are the expected risks, and what can we do about them?
In nearly all levels of science and in almost all disciplines, the population of scientists doesn’t match the American population, as certain groups are underrepresented. This website contains a set of lessons—created and tested by teachers with a range of ages in various settings—that use the tools of science to explore why this is. In the process, students learn about society and science culture in a way that promotes learning for all students, the creation of a more just scientific culture, and the formation of scientific identity for students from underrepresented groups. The website includes access to lesson plans, teacher notes, related resources, and an online discussion community of teachers doing this work.
The Underrepresentation Curriculum was featured in the July/August 2020 edition of NSTA's high school journal The Science Teacher, and has recently been updated to be more accessible and easy for teachers to implement in their classes.
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