On Saturday, October 19, a standing-room-only crowd gathered at ASTC 2013 to discuss a topic that will impact both formal and informal science educators around the United States: the new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The interactive session, entitled, “PD, NGSS, Science Centers, and Schools . . . Oh My!”, was led by Sharon Kortman, vice president of learning, and RaeAnn Fox, director of youth learning and engagement, both at Arizona Science Center in Phoenix. Kortman served as a reviewer for the NGSS.
Twenty-six U.S. states, along with the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and other partners, led the development of the NGSS, which complement the Common Core State Standards for Literacy in Science. The NGSS are composed of three dimensions: practices, cross-cutting concepts, and content/disciplinary core ideas.
Kortman and Fox encouraged attendees to choose one program they are already implementing in their institutions and determine how it corresponds with the new standards. They pointed out that because science centers and museums already embody the kind of inquiry-based, integrated learning that the NGSS promotes, they can serve as a bridge between formal education environments and the new standards. Science centers can provide professional development opportunities to help demystify the standards for teachers and administrators, and to help them to feel comfortable with science.
“We [science centers and museums] are going to be instrumental. We’re going to help lead the field in changing what teaching and learning look like,” said Kortman.