Key Science Organizations
· 1857 – The National Education Association is founded in Philadelphia by forty-three educators with a total membership of 100 educators.
· 1900 – The American Association of Universities is founded for the purpose of overseeing the competitive nature of American universities compared to their European counterparts.
· 1916 - The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is founded, and; the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is founded.
· 1920 - The National Council of the Teachers of Mathematics is founded.
· 1944 - The National Science Teachers Association is founded.
Among the historical events directly and tangentially shaping the nature of contemporary science instruction are the transformative demographic changes that modified the target population of students we serve. When over 3 million immigrants entered the country in the mid-19th century, educational policy was created to successfully absorb them into the American fabric. A similarly monumental challenge faces us today in successfully preparing millions of students of color, who constitute the new “majority minority” (an oxymoron although accepted in educational circles) and science and STEM education. Effectively educating students who are different than the type of students for whom our colleges of education were initially designed, becomes a primary concern of mathematics, science, and STEM education. This consideration has important implications in the implementation of the NGSS over the next five years.
Addressing this goal translates into a carefully planned professional development undertaking concentrating not only on how to teach the Next Generation Science Standards, but also on how the human brain best encodes, processes, stores, retrieves, and applies the new 3-D content, practices, and protocols for assessment. In cognitive science, we recognize that all brains are basically gray and it is exclusively the gray matter that truly matters in the areas of learning and memory. However, are there teaching and learning strategies expressed or implicit in the NGSS that should be underscored in professional development for classroom practitioners teaching the “new majority” in our schools? When the new assessment items on the NGSS assessment tools are written and field-tested, how will the needs of these students be reflected? Hopefully, history is not poised to repeat itself.
The relationship between economic prosperity and the successful delivery of science and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education has become increasingly apparent to economists, policymakers, and educators. Stephen Priutt, who played a lead role in crafting the NGSS said, “The need for a quality science education for all students has never been more critical than it is in the 21st century.” While the fundamental principles of science have not changed, how we will teach those principles in the future has changed. The degree of student engagement in long-term science investigations, where students take a “deep dive” into the content with new performance expectations (combining content with claims, evidence, and reasoning) and enhanced learning outcomes in mind, indeed will differ dramatically from how students learned science in the past.
In 1865, British mathematician Charles Dodgson, wrote the children’s tale, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, under the pseudonym “Lewis Carroll.” Well into the story, Alice asks the Cheshire Cat, “Which way ought I go from here?” The Cheshire Cat responds, “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” When Alice says that she really doesn’t care where she gets to, the Cheshire Cat informs her that, “If you don’t know where you’re going, then any road will get you there.” Equally important, not knowing where we hope to be in science education would lead us anywhere, including places we have already gone, as well as places at which we do not wish to be. The path formed by scientific discoveries, public policy, and educational psychology over this vast time period have taken us to where we currently are in science education. Fortuitously, with the Next Generation Science Standards we know where we are headed, we know how we will get there, and we have established the benchmarks tell us that we have indeed arrived.