A Framework for K-12 Science Education

The United States is one of the few industrialized countries that does not have a national framework for science education. This has led to a lack of scientific literacy in American students and an inability for many to compete on the global stage.

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The Framework for K-12 Science Education

The Framework for K-12 Science Education is the product of a ten-year, nationwide effort to develop a comprehensive set of resources to improve science education in the United States. The Framework is designed to be used by educators at all levels, from kindergarten through high school, to help them plan and implement science instruction that will engage all students in active learning about real-world phenomena.

The Framework is organized around three dimensions:

-Science and Engineering Practices: The practices of science and engineering are at the heart of the Framework. These practices describe how scientists and engineers work, and they provide students with opportunities to engage in the work of science and engineering.

-Crosscutting Concepts: Crosscutting concepts are ideas that are fundamental to understanding the core concepts in all areas of science. These concepts help students see connections between different fields of science and between science and other disciplines, such as mathematics, engineering, and technology.

-Disciplinary Core Ideas: The disciplinary core ideas are the key concepts that students need to know in each major area of science. These ideas build on one another as students progress through grade levels, from kindergarten through high school.

The Three Dimensions of the Framework

One of the most important aspects of the Framework is that it emphasizes that science and engineering are complementary ways of learning about the world and solving problems. The Framework divides the goals of K-12 science education into three dimensions:

-Content Knowledge: The ideas, concepts, and theories that are central to science and engineering.

-Practices: The methods, skills, and approaches used by scientists and engineers to investigate natural phenomena, model systems, design solutions, and communicate their work.

-Crosscutting Concepts: Important ideas that cut across all domains of science and engineering, such as patterns, cause and effect, energy and matter.

The Nature of Science

In order to provide a framework for K-12 science education that is aligned with the National Science Education Standards (NSES) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), the nature of science must be understood. The nature of science is an overarching idea that includes engineering, practices, and knowledge. It is important for students to understand the nature of science so that they can be better prepared to engage in scientific and engineering practices, and to use scientific knowledge to solve problems in their everyday lives.

The Nature of Science

The nature of science is an overarching idea that includes engineering, practices, and knowledge. It is important for students to understand the nature of science so that they can be better prepared to engage in scientific and engineering practices, and to use scientific knowledge to solve problems in their everyday lives.

The Nature of Engineering

Engineering is the application of scientific principles to design and build systems that solve real-world problems. Engineering disciplines include mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, civil engineering, chemical engineering, and aerospace engineering.

Scientific Practices

Scientific practices are the ways in which scientists conduct their work. These practices include making observations, asking questions, formulating hypotheses, designing experiments, analyzing data, and communicating results.

Scientific Knowledge

Scientific knowledge is the body of facts and ideas about the natural world that scientists have acquired through their work. This knowledge is used by scientists to answer questions about how the world works and to design new technologies.

The Scientific and Engineering Practices

The National Science Education Standards (NSES) were published in 1996 by the National Academy Press. The NSES provide a framework for K-12 science education standards. The framework consists of three dimensions: scientific and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas. The practices describe what scientists do to investigate the natural world and what engineers do to design and build systems. The crosscutting concepts are a set of ideas that are common to all disciplines of science, engineering, and technology and can be integrated into instruction at every grade level. The disciplinary core ideas are a set of key concepts in life sciences, physical sciences, earth and space sciences, and engineering, technology, and applications of science.

The United States is committed to improving science education so that all students have the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to be informed citizens who can contribute to the economic well-being of our nation and the health of our environment. In support of this commitment, the Framework for K-12 Science Education provides a vision of what it means to be scientifically literate for all students.

The Crosscutting Concepts

The Framework for K-12 Science Education is a guide for states and localities to use in enhacing their science education programs. It was developed by a committee of experts convened by the National Research Council and sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education. The Framework was released in 2011 and is based on research in science education, cognitive science, and learning sciences.

The Framework has three dimensions:

– Scientific and Engineering Practices

– Crosscutting Concepts

– Disciplinary Core Ideas

The Crosscutting Concepts are a set of ideas that are common to all fields of science. They provide a way of thinking about the natural world that is systematic, logical, and consistent. The Crosscutting Concepts are:

– Patterns

– Cause and effect: mechanisms and explanations

– Scale, proportion, and quantity

– Systems and system models

– Energy and matter: flows, cycles, and conservation

– Structure and function

The Disciplinary Core Ideas

The Disciplinary Core Ideas are the key ideas in science that have broad importance within or across multiple science or engineering disciplines. They build on the knowledge and expertise gained in earlier grades and support the acquisition of new knowledge and skills in increasingly sophisticated ways. As students advance through grade levels, they should develop a deeper understanding of each Disciplinary Core Idea. In addition to describing what students should understand about each Disciplinary Core Idea, the grade-level progression charts also identify expectations for how well students should be able to use their knowledgeufffdthat is, to engage in Scientific and Engineering Practices. The Framework also includes six Crosscutting Concepts that run through, and provide connections between, all the Disciplinary Core Ideas. The Crosscutting Concepts are intended to help provide coherence to the learning progressions across disciplines by focusing on commonly applicable ideas.

The Framework presents an overarching vision of what it means to be proficient in science and engineering for all K-12 students, regardless of which disciplinary core ideas they are emphasizing at any particular time. This big idea is that scientific and engineering knowledge advances through the process of scientific inquiry (observation, questioning, data gathering using tools and technologies, modeling with mathematics as appropriate, analyzing data using tools and technologies as appropriate, drawing conclusions from data analysis as appropriate). Students engage in scientific inquiry when they identify questions about the natural world; collect evidence about those questions from direct observations or from reading sources; develop hypotheses based on their evidence; use their hypotheses to guide further investigations; analyze data (often using mathematical models) from their investigations; draw conclusions based on their data analysis and communicate these conclusions to other scientists or engineers. Students should understand that scientific inquiry is a dynamic process rather than a linear one and that they may need to revise their explanations based on new evidence gathered during their investigations.

The Vision for K-12 Science Education

A Framework for K-12 Science Education is the culmination of a process that began with a review of research and development in support of learning and teaching science. The National Research Council’s Committee on a Framework for K-12 Science Education was charged with providing advice on how to develop such a framework. The committee was asked to consider what ideas, concepts, and skills are most important for students in grades K-12 to learn in order to be prepared for college, careers, and citizenship; how these ideas, concepts, and skills could be best taught so that all students have the opportunity to learn them; what roles research plays in providing the evidence base needed to make decisions about the framework; and what challenges and opportunities exist for implementing the framework.

Implementation of the Framework

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are two of the nation’s premier agencies supporting basic research and training in the sciences. In 2010, they asked the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to produce a framework for K-12 science education. The goal was to provide a vision of what students should know and be able to do by the time they graduate from high school. The result was A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas.

The Framework is organized around three dimensions:

-Practices: What scientists do to investigate the natural world and what engineers do to design and build systems.

-Crosscutting Concepts: Ideas that help students see connections across disciplines.

-Core Ideas: Fundamental concepts in each major domain of science.

The Framework is not a curriculum or a set of lesson plans; it is a set of goals for what all students should know by the time they finish high school. The practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas are meant to be integrated into every lesson, not taught as isolated topics.

The Framework has been well received by the science education community, and many states and districts are using it to guide their efforts to improve science education.

The Framework in Action

In order to provide some context for the Framework, this section describes how the ideas and practices described in it might be evident in kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) classrooms and in instruction more generally. The Framework is not meant to be prescriptive; rather, it is intended to serve as a guide for those involved in developing science education, including parents, teachers, administrators, curriculum developers, instructional materials writers, and professional development providers. The Framework does not describe how all students should learn science or what all students should know about science at each grade level. Rather, because each state and locality has different resources and different ways of organizing its educational system, the Framework provides general guidance that can be tailored to meet the particular needs of any state or locality.

The framework outlines what students should know and be able to do at different stages in their education so that they will develop progressively deeper understanding of scientific ideas as well as an increasing ability to use those ideas both to communicate their understanding and to solve problems. The practices described in the framework are those that characteristically are used by scientists to investigate the natural world and by engineers to design solutions. The content standards describe what students should know at each grade level so that they will be able to engage in scientific practices and use engineering design principles. The crosscutting concepts are connections that can be applied across all domains of science.

For More Information

The United States has long been a world leader in science and engineering. But today, other nations are investing more heavily in research and development, which has led to concerns about the nationufffds ability to maintain its competitive edge. A report from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine aims to address those concerns by providing a framework for science education in the United States.

The report identifies three dimensions of science education that are essential for students to develop: scientific and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas in life sciences, physical sciences, Earth and space sciences, and engineering, technology, and applications of science. The framework also identifies connections between these dimensions.

The report provides detailed guidance on how the framework can be used to improve science education at all levels, from kindergarten through high school. It also offers recommendations for how the framework can be implemented in different settings, including schools, after-school programs, museums, and informal learning environments.

The “k-12 framework pdf” is a document that provides a framework for K-12 science education. The document was created by the National Science Teachers Association and published in 2004.

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