Assignment: Education - Next Generation Science Standards

New science standards released in April may be adopted by the state of Wisconsin

ONALASKA, Wis. - The students in Mr. Hubings 6th grade science class definitely have a favorite part.

"I like doing experiments and trying different things," said Tyler Lommen, Onalaska Middle School 6th grader.

"Doing the experiments and hands on stuff," said Annika Vriens, Onalaska Middle School 6th grader.

And if Wisconsin adopts the newly released Next Generation Science Standards these kids will be able to do more of what they love.

"I think right now there is kind of a focus on getting through a lot of things," said Alex Hubing, Onalaska Middle School 6th grade science teacher. "I would say with the Next Generation Science Standards it's less on the breadth and more on the depth of getting into concepts and standards."

"This is a whole new day in terms of a national approach to how we teach science," said Roger Fruit, director of instructional services for the Onalaska School District.

The Director of Instructional Services for the Onalaska School District says it may be time to change how science is taught.


"The biggest changes will be how a district, for the first time, is looking at standards that go beyond just our state," said Fruit. "These are national standards that districts, states across the nation, and than districts will have to look at how we get them into our curriculum."

The Next Generation Science Standards were created by a group supported by 26 states. The need for the new standards surfaced in 2007 after an independent organization revealed some startling statistics about student performance.

"That study showed that the U.S. was kind of falling behind in math and science to a lot of other countries," said Hubing.

So, the Next Generation Science Standards were developed with the hopes of improving science education. And the new expectations will include more hands-on learning.

"So, this idea of actually creating models, building things, actually doing science... not just learning about science, but doing science," said Hubing. "I think that's the stunning difference when you look at those standards."

While some may argue science has always included experiments, the big difference may be how the experiments are conducted.

"A lot of times it was given to you what you needed to do," said Hubing. "Step by step what you needed to do. I would say with the Next Generation Science Standards all of a sudden it will be up to the student to design that experiment and really think about what do we want to find out."

And it's this natural curiosity which educators are hoping will create the critical thinkers of tomorrow.

"I think what we're saying is let kids be curious," said Hubing. "Let's give them the tools, the skills and the structure to actually carry out their ideas as real scientists."

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