Register for a free account to start saving and receiving special member only perks. The education that many students receive in science, mathematics, and technology is not adequate for a world that is being transformed by scientific and technological advances. People have to be familiar with the basic concepts of science, mathematics, engineering, and technology to think critically about the world and to make informed decisions about personal and societal issues.
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Literacy in these fields is essential also for an appreciation of the rapid expansion of human knowledge—surely one of the great adventures of the 20th century. Another motivation increases the sense of urgency: today, an understanding of science, mathematics, and technology is very important in the workplace. As routine mechanical and clerical tasks become computerized, more and more jobs require high-level skills that involve critical thinking, problem-solving, communicating ideas to others, and collaborating effectively. Many of these jobs build on skills developed through high-quality science, mathematics, and technology education.
Our nation is unlikely to remain the world leader without a better-educated workforce. Several key objectives set forth in Academy complex reports can help guide the actions of all those involved in developing and implementing public and institutional policies regarding education. Among these objectives are the following:. Encourage teachers, curriculum-developers, school administrators, government officials, and college faculty to build on the national standards in science and mathematics in seeking higher levels of performance from all students in grades K to For all undergraduates, provide access to excellent programs in science, mathematics, and technology that provide direct experience with the methods and processes of inquiry.
Evaluate undergraduate departments and programs against explicit educational goals with assessments that are as rigorous as those applied to research. Balance the rewards accorded teaching, research, service, and professional activities so that teaching is enlivened by investigation and faculty are rewarded for the full range of scholarly activity. Foster change through leadership that builds a consensus concerning educational improvements and. Gerald Stancil embodies the rich potential of science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education.
Today he is a high-school physics teacher in Orange, New Jersey. When he came to Orange High School, there was one physics class with 13 students.
Today, there are three physics classes with 75 students. Stancil is doing what he wants to do, but he had to overcome several obstacles along the way. Graduate school did not cultivate the skills and abilities he now uses most—communication skills and social skills. He entered the high-school classroom through a New Jersey program called Alternate Route, set up specifically to attract people with graduate degrees to public-school teaching.
He believes that PhDs can make a great contribution to precollege education.
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As a black man, he also is able to serve as a model for minority-group students, who might have little understanding of how to approach a career in science and engineering. And he does not have to make a financial sacrifice to do what he is doing, because people with PhDs teaching high school make salaries comparable with the median salaries at most universities. Require that students seeking admission into universities and colleges take tests that include evaluation of their ability to conduct scientific inquiry, rather than relying on current standardized tests of their knowledge of science and mathematics.
Expand the use of education and training grants to provide financial support to graduate students. For graduate schools, set institutional standards for time to degree, enforce them, and inform students of time-to-degree and other career-related information before they enter a program.
Emphasize the importance of building a true system of postsecondary training to replace the piecemeal approach characteristic of past efforts. Some outstanding things happen in science classrooms today because extraordinary teachers do what needs to be done despite conventional practice. Many generous teachers spend their own money on science supplies, knowing that students learn best by investigation. These teachers ignore vocabulary-dense textbooks and encourage student inquiry.
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But that situation is not found in many schools. The implementation of the National Science Education Standards will highlight and promote the best practices of extraordinary teachers and give them the recognition and support that they deserve. School principals who find money in their budgets for field trips, parents whose bake-sale proceeds purchase science equipment, and publishers who are pioneering authentic assessments despite the market for multiple-choice tests will also be recognized and encouraged.
Over the last decade, the National Research Council and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, responding to calls for higher levels of science and mathematics achievement, developed national standards for what all students should know and be able to do in these subjects. The standards reflect a broad consensus that has emerged. The standard indicates that by the time students complete 8th grade they should know the following fundamental concepts:. Different kinds of questions suggest different kinds of scientific investigations. Technology used to gather data enhances accuracy and allows scientists to analyze and quantify results of investigations.
Scientific explanations emphasize evidence, have logically consistent arguments, and use scientific principles, models, and theories. Scientific investigations sometime result in new ideas and phenomena for study, generate new methods or procedures for an investigation, or develop new technologies to improve the collection of data.
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All these results can lead to new investigations. In addition to containing content standards that describe the subject matter that all students should master, the standards outline what teachers of science and mathematics at all grade levels should know and be able to do and the new kinds of assessments that are needed to test what all students should know and understand. A curriculum is the way content is organized and presented in the classroom. The standards do not mandate a specific curriculum: the content embodied in the standards can be organized and presented with many different emphases in many different curricula.
Nor do the standards imply that all teachers should pursue a single approach to teaching;. The standards point toward a kind of teaching different from that common in many K classrooms today. The teacher serves as a coach for the development of skills, such as the ability to engage in problem-solving and inquiry.
The students engage in collaborative learning that includes the synthesis and integration of different types of data and analysis, and communicating the results. The benefit of learning skills as opposed to only learning knowledge — learning how as opposed to learning that —is best exemplified in sports and music.
It is difficult to imagine teaching basketball or piano-playing by lecture alone, and it should be just as difficult in the case of science and mathematics. How can students best learn these skills?
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Students can conduct an investigation. For example, a teacher wants students to develop an understanding of variables and how and why to change one variable at a time. This inquiry-process skill might be imparted in the context of physical science subject matter. The teacher asks students to build a pendulum that swings at six swings per second. She does not tell students that the number of swings depends on the length of the pendulum, but creates an activity that awakens their interest and encourages them to ask questions and seek answers.
She then encourages them to look for applications of this science knowledge beyond the classroom. Students keep written records of their science activities, and the teacher helps them to develop the skills needed to communicate effectively.
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All students, not just high-achieving ones, should be exposed to much more science than the minimum that most students are exposed to today. High-achieving students should be able to pursue science and mathematics as fully and rapidly as their talents permit. The standards underscore the need for teacher professionalism in science and mathematics education.
Better preparation in science and mathematics, recognition and support of effective teaching, continuing education in science and mathematics, and permanent links of teachers to universities, professional organizations, and other science-rich institutions can all help to create the necessary level of professionalism. Assessments of learning the tests that students take have a powerful influence on education policies and practices. Appropriate assessments do more than measure factual knowledge. They assess what is important to learn, not just. Watch children play a video game.
Because of their immersion in this computerized world, children absorb information differently from their parents. Instead of following information passively from beginning to end—as people tend to do with television shows, newspapers, and books—children interact with the new technologies. Schools now have an opportunity to apply the information technologies that are so effective outside the classroom for educational purposes.