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New science teaching tools shown at NSTA conference
Companies demonstrated products built around the Next Generation Science Standards and designed to engage students in science activities
Integrating the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) into instruction, teaching science in the elementary grades, and getting students interested in science were key themes to emerge during the annual conference of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) April 3-6.
Nearly 10,000 science teachers and curriculum specialists gathered in Boston earlier this month for the organization’s National Conference on Science Education. In conference sessions and the exhibit hall, much of the talk focused on the NGSS and how to integrate these successfully into teaching.
Created by a group of 26 states in an effort supported by NSTA, the National Research Council, and Achieve Inc., the voluntary standards identify important scientific ideas and practices that all students should learn by the time they graduate high school. As of press time, 11 states and the District of Columbia have formally adopted the standards.
NSTA has created a new website, NGSS@NSTA, which it calls a “hub” for science teachers to find NSTA-approved resources to help them implement the standards. Many conference exhibitors touted new science curriculum products geared toward the standards as well.
For instance, LEGO Education introduced an activity pack with 14 physical science experiments for middle school students. The experiments—which cover topics such as energy, heat, force and motion, and light—require the LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 system, a Renewable Energy Set, and a temperature sensor, and they’re designed to fit into a single class period, said Marketing Director Abigail Fern.
Sangari Active Science, which publishes hands-on, inquiry-based elementary and middle school science curriculum, demonstrated its new IQWST Tablet Edition. This interactive science curriculum for students in grades 6-8 is available as a browser-based program that works with any platform, as well as a native app for iPads.
IQWST stands for “Investigating and Questioning our World through Science and Technology,” and its units are organized around questions that are relevant to students’ lives. Students learn by following the processes spelled out in the NGSS: They ask questions, analyze and interpret data, and argue their hypotheses based on the evidence they’ve collected.
National Geographic Learning demonstrated its brand-new “Exploring Science” program, a K-5 science curriculum built from the ground up to address the NGSS.
Available in print or digital format, Exploring Science “challenges kids to think like a scientist,” said Vincent Grosso, senior vice president of sales and marketing. Students learn “not just how to know science, but how to do science.”
(Next page: More products to help elementary teachers include science in their curriculum—and products designed to engage students’ interest)