Next Generation Science

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Last week, new guidelines for K–12 science education were released. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were developed by 26 states, along with the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Achieve. The standards emphasize critical thinking over content memorization and identify science and engineering practices that students should master to be fully prepared for college and careers.

NGSS also recommends that students learn about climate change. For the last two years, we have partnered with Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management on a program called My Carbon Footprint, an educational initiative designed to build awareness about climate change science. As a result of this project, we have developed two climate change curriculums – one for middle schools and one for high schools – that include hands-on activities that give students the foundation they need to understand climate change. Both curriculums align to the seven crosscutting scientific and engineering concepts identified in the NGSS framework: patterns; cause and effect; scale, proportion, and quantity; systems and system models; energy and matter: flows, cycles and conservation; structure and function; stability and change. The curriculums can be downloaded for free and can help guide teachers who implement climate change science lessons into their classrooms.

The NGSS guidelines are voluntary, but many educators are applauding the move away from rote memorization. Our president and CEO, Margaret Honey, said in a recent USA Today article that children should be taught

“how to learn and how to be discerning…When I was a kid, education was memorizing and learning lots of facts — that methodology of teaching absolutely no longer makes sense. That’s not the world we live in anymore.”

It is official! Modular//Neuroid and The New York Hall of Science will be collaborating to create a multi-layered experience for middle and high school students in a project titled Collect, Construct, Change().  The project will give students the chance to collect data on environmental pollution in the field, and then offer them a platform in which to experience this data.  This experience will come in the form of an augmented reality cell phone application. The project will culminate in the form of several workshops over the summer at NySci, and a presentation and workshop at the first ever Maker Faire NYC (which is being held at the New York Hall of Science, September 25 and 26, 2010)! The final step of the project is to promote environmental advocacy through the children participating.  This is extremely exciting.  It also means that I am employed through October 2010. Thank goodness.

This has been on the books for some time now, and have waited to announce it on this site as there were several details to work out. Everything is a go, and I have already begun prototyping for this iteration of modular//neuroid.  I am extremely lucky to have this opportunity and intend on making use of it.  My involvement is the result of a collaboration between the New Youth City Learning Network, along with Parsons and NySci.  The team also consists of a Columbia post-doc, as well as the Bank Street College andCity Lore.

More on this soon!

Hands-On help with Science projects

In response to a teachers plea for science resources, we’ve gathered some links and lessons from the Teachers Talkingscience site, some of which NYSCI has written and which extend the learning of Science Friday videos. Most of these have videos and associated lesson plans:
Comparative Metabolism and Energy use:
'Decaying Science' (lesson plan included) - http://www.talkingscience.org/2010/11/decaying-science/
'Yeast Alive! Watch Yeast Live and Breathe' (includes lesson plan) - http://www.talkingscience.org/2011/07/yeast-alive-watch-yeast-live-and-breathe/
'Gassy Microbes' (similar to/extension of above, includes lesson plan) - http://www.talkingscience.org/2010/01/gassy-microbes/
Energy content and behavior of matter:
'Kitchen Chemists - Edible Candle' (mini-lesson plan included) - http://www.talkingscience.org/2011/09/kitchen-chemists-edible-candle/
Other extensions: 
How the metabolic needs of individual organisms create ecosystem connections
'Termite Symbiosis' (lesson plan included) - http://www.talkingscience.org/2011/09/termite-symbiosis/
'After Oil Spill, Bacteria Feast on Natural gas' - http://www.talkingscience.org/2010/09/after-oil-spill/
Comparing ourselves to robots

The Björk Bolt

Is today’s music instruction a little hollow? Should science education be hit with a thunderbolt?

Don’t worry. The thunderbolt is in town and she has collaborated with NYSCI and the Creator’s Project on an education series for middle school students. Björk, the Icelandic music superstar, has made New York City the first U.S. stop on her Biophilia tour, with shows at NYSCI and Roseland Ballroom. Not content to just sing about nature and science, Björk has made education an integral part of her New York residency. Through the Biophilia Education Series, music and science instructors are educating 50 Queens students by using Björk songs to teach topics like dark matter, crystalline structures, and viruses. Students were recruited from middle schools in our neighboring communities of Corona and Flushing.

In the Biophilia after-school workshops and this week’s winter break camp, students explore the fundamentals of music composition and production using iPad apps created by Björk for her latest project, Biophilia. Students also participate in demonstrations and hands-on activities led by NYSCI instructors that explore the scientific themes of Biophilia. The result is a unique educational experience that will get kids feeling electrified about songs, nature and technology.

Think of it as a bolt of inventiveness for science and music learning.

Photo: Students learn about the phases of the moon at a Biophilia workshop. Photo by Andrew Kelly. View more photos.

My Carbon Footprint teacher PD this weekend at NYSCI

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This Saturday, November 5, NYSCI will host 100 teachers for a My Carbon Footprint professional development workshop. The educators will learn all about the project, receive a copy of the curriculum, and get a chance to try out some of the My Carbon Footprint lessons.

To prepare for this workshop, members of NYSCI’s education staff have eagerly been gathering materials and organizing classrooms and labs. We had a difficult time picking which lessons we’ll be highlighting, but we finally selected Natural Variability vs. Man-Made Climate Change, Life Cycles of Electronics, and Adaptation and Mitigation: Sea Level Rise. Even if you can’t make it to the workshop, you can check out these lessons as well as many more by downloading the My Carbon Footprint curriculum found on the Curriculum page of this site.

These are photos of students completing the same lessons the teachers will try out on Saturday.

Check back next week for some pictures and stories from the workshop.