NGSS Explorer helps teachers with digital STEM resources

By Laura Devaney, Director of News, @eSN_Laura
March 31st, 2016

ngss tool

Common Sense Graphite search and ratings tool connects educators with STEM and STEAM apps, websites aligned to NGSS

A new search tool aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) aims to help educators identify digital STEM and STEAM resources to use in their science and math instruction.

The NGSS Explorer, from the nonprofit Common Sense Education, helps teachers locate the ed-tech resources that can help give students a cross-disciplinary, inquiry-based approach to science learning. The tool also is intended to help teachers integrate new tools into their lesson plans.

Common Sense Education, a nonprofit organization that reviews and rates education apps, games and websites, today introduced the NGSS Explorer, an intuitive and quick search tool for teachers to discover digital STEM and STEAM resources for their science and math classrooms.

The NGSS Explorer and Graphite’s library of STEM and STEAM editorial- and peer-based reviews can be found here.

“Digital technology is a great way to introduce the investigative, practice-based learning the NGSS standards inspire,” said Danny Wagner, a former teacher and manager, STEM Content at Common Sense Education. “As educators, we encourage kids to match their technique to the discipline they’re learning. Just as scientists use technology to do their jobs, we are helping teachers leverage real-life engineering and scientific best practices with their students.”

Published in April 2013, the NGSS standards are voluntary, rigorous and internationally benchmarked for K-12 education. Twenty-six states came together to offer input on the standards, and those states also addressed a noted deficit in scientific skills among U.S. students relative to the growth of the science and math-based job market.

To create the NGSS Explorer, Graphite’s editorial team reviewed and tagged more than 300 ed-tech products based on a rigorous rubric that indicated conformance to NGSS intent and/or the potential to be used in an inquiry-based science or math environment.

Using the NGSS Explorer, teachers can search by grade, topic and Performance Expectation (PE) to find relevant, creative tools that pair well with their NGSS-aligned activities, lessons and curriculum. Mapped to each PE, the tool provides three NGSS dimensions – Science and Engineering Practices (SEP), Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI), and Crosscutting Concepts (CC) – for quick and easy reference.

In addition to tagging NGSS-relevant teaching tools, Graphite reviewers, many current or former math, science and engineering teachers, provide a practice-oriented editorial review of each app, game or website. There are over 2500 editorial reviews available on Graphite across all K-12 subjects, as well as teacher reviews and lesson plans from a growing community of educators.

Graphite editors also curate “Top Picks” to help teachers further navigate the extensive library of STEM, STEAM and NGSS-identified products.

“Common Sense Education continues to develop resources for educators to match the needs of 21st century students, “ said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense. “The NGSS Explorer will help teachers encourage the type of critical thinking and communication skills that students need to be the scientists and engineers of tomorrow.”

The NGSS Explorer will be featured during two conference sessions at the ASCD Conference in Atlanta, Ga, April 2-4, 2016. For more on Common Sense at ASCD, check out

Support for the development of the NGSS Explorer was provided through a multi-year grant to Common Sense from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

About the Author:

Laura Devaney

Laura Devaney is the Director of News for eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura