The Common Core State Standards in math and English/language arts have gotten a lot of attention over the past few years, fueling debate about how best to set goals for student learning. But another set of new standards-these for science-has been redefining instruction in American classrooms with much less controversy. The Next Generation Science Standards, being implemented in 18 states, emphasize learning science by doing science.
Wyoming has not yet adopted the standards, but some school districts, like Campbell County, aren’t waiting for the state to take action.
“We’re not teaching out of a textbook anymore,” says 4th grade teacher Jamie Howe. “It’s more hands on and students are taking control of their own learning.”
Although this more active way of teaching is fueling enthusiasm, it also faces significant challenges. Schools across the nation spend less time on science and more on math and reading, and educators in small schools with few science teachers must adapt in not just one subject, but three or four.
John Tulenko of Education Week visited Wyoming this spring to learn how the Next Generation Science Standards are changing K-12 science classes.
LEARN MORE TONIGHT ON PBS NEWSHOUR.