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Sunday, March 17, 2013


THE PHYSICAL SCIENCE COMMITMENT


Since 1995 (for the past 18 years) I have taught Physical Science at Streamwood High School in Streamwood, Illinois.  This week I read an article in Science Teacher Magazine titled, “ The Next Generation Science Standards,  A Focus on Physical Science” magazine written by Joe Krajik,  professor of science education at Michigan State University and director of the Institute for Collaborative Research for Education, Assessment, and Teaching Environment for Science, Technology, and Engineering and Mathematics.

The article begins to unravel new ideas that NGSS presents to the science education community.  For years I have worked to employ cutting-edge technologies and inquiry methodologies into the physical science curriculum.  The best means to bring these new ideas of practice into the classroom is through project-based learning.

At the high school level, the students in science class must be held accountable and use the learned outcomes achieved in middle and elementary school.  It is important that high school teachers utilize these student abilities and skills developed in the earlier grades, because it will lends authenticity to the practice that is employed by teachers at the high school level adhering to the NGSS.  The practices, crosscutting concepts and core ideas can then be capsuled in real-world science research projects fostering problem solving and a commitment to rational evidence-based solutions.  These projects help produce the interest and motivation by students to deliver outcomes and solutions that are a real benefit to our society.

My concern is for the development of systematic and performance based approaches to learn science in the elementary and middle school levels.  The professional development and mentoring that needs to be implemented is crucial.  This schooling by teachers for teachers is necessary to align and bring to fruition performance-based outcomes in the classroom that lead to deeper thinking, questioning and ultimately greater understanding by all students.

The STEM Forum scheduled for May in St. Louis, Missouri  (www.nsta.org/conferences/2013stl/) is an example of an excellent opportunity for science educators at the elementary and middle school level to share ideas, concerns and come up with creative innovative practices to be employed in the classroom.  I am looking for leadership within the school district to commit to their teachers by sending teams of teachers to attend these science conferences and forums.  This supportive investment, by school districts, will help fuel the innovation that is necessary to redesign the practice delivered to students in the science classroom. The experience and knowledge gained from attending these meetings will inspire and motivate a new generation of science educators that are committed to delivering inquiry-based learning into the classroom and addressing the educational needs of our children in the 21st century.

SCIENCE RESEARCH IN THE CLASSROOM:

The modeling method of teaching physics involves students performing inquiry-based experiments investigating the transfer of energy from one form to another within a closed system.  Studetns use PASCO probes, plastic cars and a frictionless track to perform experimental investigation.  Graphical Analysis 3 computer satistical modeling software is utilized to assess the data collected.


In the physical science clasroom a team of students are completing a long-term independent research project on the effect of increased concentration of carbon dioxide upon the growth rate of basil plants.  Students burn a candle until it is extinquished due to lack of oxygen.  PASCO probes monitor the level of carbon dioxide concentration within a closed system.  The effect of the increased carbon dioxide upon the plant is compared to other basil plants under normal conditions.

 

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