Competitive Exams: Current Affairs 2011: Science education

Changes in Science Education

Serving as the foundation for new K − 12 science education standards, to replace those issued more than a decade ago, a report released recently by the National Research Council presents a new framework for K 12 science education that identifies the key scientific ideas and practices all students should learn by the end of high school.

The National Research Council is the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering; all three are independent, nongovernmental organizations.

Improvements needed:

The committee that wrote the report sees the need for significant improvements in how science is taught in the US

The new framework is designed to help students gradually deepen their knowledge of core ideas in four disciplinary areas over multiple years of school, rather than acquire shallow knowledge of many topics.

And it strongly emphasizes the practices of science helping students learn to plan and carry out investigations, for example, and to engage in argumentation from evidence, according to a National Academy of Sciences press release.

The overarching goal:

The overarching goal of the framework is to ensure that by the end of 12th grade, all students have some appreciation of the beauty and wonder of science, the capacity to discuss and think critically about sciencerelated issues, and the skills to pursue careers in science or engineering if they want to do so outcomes that existing educational approaches are ill equipped to achieve.

Currently, science education in the US lacks a common vision of what students should know and be able to do by the end of high school, curricula too often emphasize breadth over depth, and students are rarely given the opportunity to experience how science is actually done.

The new framework is designed to address and overcome these weaknesses. It builds on what is known to work best in science education, based on research and classroom experience both in the US and around the world.

Four areas:

The framework specifies core ideas in four disciplinary areas life sciences; physical sciences; earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology and the applications of science that all students should understand by the time they finish high school. For example, among the core ideas in the physical sciences are matter and its interactions and energy.

Students'knowledge of these ideas should deepen over time, and the framework specifies aspects of each idea that students should know by the end of grades two, five, eight, and 12.

The framework also identifies seven crosscutting concepts that have explanatory value across much of science and engineering, such as cause and effect and stability and change.

Courtesy: The Hindu and Times of India