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A New Way to Teach Science


Ann Rivet, TC Associate Professor of Education

Ann Rivet, TC Associate Professor of Education (Courtesy of Marc Gordon)

In an essay published in the January 2013 issue of Science, Ann Rivet, TC Associate Professor of Education, and Ravit Duncan, Associate Professor of Science Education at Rutgers Graduate School of Education, called on scientists to get behind proposed new K—12 science education standards and advocate for their adoption by states.
Under current science education standards adopted in 1996, students learn about, say, the water cycle one year and cell mitosis the next, but the curricula often fail to connect those topics to one another or to helpful tactile or visual experiences.

The proposed Next Generation Science Standards, drawn up by a national committee of science educators, learning researchers and content experts, are based on learning progressions, a concept of teaching and learning that has gained traction among education researchers in the last decade.

Learning progressions in science are designed to expose students to core big ideas – atomic and molecular theory, for example – and to provide them with increasingly sophisticated levels of understanding of those concepts as they move through the K—12 science  program. At each level, students learn to use scientific practices to create new knowledge that takes their understanding to the next level.  

“These standards can fundamentally change the way students come to understand science in K—12 education,” says Rivet, who serves on the New York State review committee for the proposed new standards.

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