We live in a world which is predominantly governed by change. In fact, change is inevitable. In this constantly changing environment, as teachers, mentors or parents, we have to ask ourselves one important question - How can we help our children adapt to this ever changing, highly competitive world?
In my opinion, the answer is quite simple. Our children need an education that will not only help them build a solid career, but also help them acquire skills that are critical for success in the 21st century. For STEM related fields, this is where the Next Generation Science Standards or NGSS comes in.
The current education systems in our country still follow the standards of education that have not changed for decades. These out-of-date standards cannot help students build skills and careers in various fields like science, technology, engineering, mathematics etc. Thus, prominent visionaries and intellectuals in the United States of America thought of framing new standards that abide by the core ideas of current science disciplines. This is how NGSS (and the research that it is based on) was conceived. NGSS were developed in a two step process in partnership with the National Research Council (NRC), the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Achieve. The standards are based on the National Research Council’s document “A Framework for K-12 Science Education “. The standards are rich in both knowledge and skills, and are arranged in a seamless manner across grades and disciplines to provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education.
What is the need for NGSS and how does following these standards help our students?When current students graduate from high school, more jobs will demand and require skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics than in the past eras. NGSS provides a strong science education that equips students with the ability to think critically, analyze information and solve problems. These being the primary skills needed to pursue opportunities within and beyond the STEM fields. NGSS accomplishes these objectives by incorporating three primary dimensions into their framework namely Scientific and Engineering Practices (SEP), Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI) and Crosscutting Concepts. The Scientific and Engineering Practices describe the behaviors that scientists and engineers engage in. The Disciplinary Core Ideas describe the core concepts in current science disciplines. The Crosscutting Concepts describe the concepts linking different domains of science.
Using NGSS, educators are able to teach, not only content, but also skills. The inclusion of hands-on, collaborative activities rooted in inquiry and discovery enable students to "learn science by doing science". Teaching based on NGSS implements predominantly a “student centered” learning model. It enables students to think on their own, solve problems, communicate and collaborate. It also helps them build a solid and strong foundation of important scientific concepts that helps them gain knowledge and sharpen their skills even after high school.
At Advanced Learning Space, we use NGSS as a guide when creating our custom lesson plans. Every lesson plan, while focussing on a concept as per NCERT syllabus, also incorporates multiple Practices and Crosscutting Concepts from NGSS. This way, our students get the best of both worlds. They learn about concepts from their syllabus while acquiring skills students in the USA and other developed countries are focusing on right now.