Currently, our students spend 100 minutes per week engaged in rich science learning using the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Within the NGSS, there are three unique but equally critical dimensions to science teaching and learning. These dimensions work together to support each standard — or performance expectation — and collaboratively they help students build a comprehensive, unified understanding of science over time.
The first dimension, Crosscutting Concepts, helps students investigate within the four domains of science, including Physical Science, Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Engineering Design. When the concepts within these domains, such as “cause and effect”, are clear for students, students can develop a coherent and scientifically-based view of the world around them. They act and think like scientists.
The second dimension, Science and Engineering Practices (SEP’s), detail what scientists do to explore the natural world and what engineers do to design and build systems. There is inherent inquiry in these practices that help develop the range of cognitive, social, and physical practices that they require. Students investigate and ask questions to build, deepen, and apply their knowledge of core ideas and crosscutting concepts.
The third dimension, Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs), is a set of key ideas in science that have wide-ranging importance within or across multiple science or engineering disciplines. These core ideas are cumulative as students move through grade levels and are clustered into the following four domains: Physical Science, Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Engineering.
Currently we are working with the UCLA Science Project to deepen and hone our practice so that our students are better able to access the ideas within NGSS and can meaningfully interact with their peers in investigations and discussions to understand how the world works and what their role is in it. We use FOSS, Mystery Science, and ideas and tools from Ambitious Science Teaching to support our work.