What Will Students be Doing During Science Class?
What Types of Activities Will Students Participate In?
A high school level science classroom today, that incorporates NGSS, looks very different than what you or your parents may have experienced in the past. Many individuals remember science as being a class where basic content was presented by the teacher in a lecture format and labs were completed by following a step-by-step procedure. However, that has greatly changed since the introduction of NGSS and the integration of performance expectations.
In today's science classroom, the goal is that students are learning content as they encounter it during meaningful and student-driven investigations. Many times students are asked to consider a phenomena (or an event that cannot be easily explained) and then ask questions based upon their observation of the unexplained event. After determining what questions they have, students then plan investigations to simulate a particular process, research current scientific understandings, and/or develop solutions to solve the problem. This moves away from students simply memorizing facts or completing worksheets to learn science. While it is still important to teachers that students leave our classrooms with scientific knowledge, we are just as concerned that students learn how to be critical thinkers, how to interpret information, and how to use evidence to support their understanding. These are skills that students can then transfer to their personal lives and continue to use even if they have no interest in studying science at a deeper level.
The activities below give you an idea of some of the activities that your student may participate in throughout the school year. For more information regarding the new approach to teaching science, please check out the New Vision for Science Education above.
Examples of Specific Activities
- Newton's 1st Law of Motion
- Instead of just memorizing what the law states, students are given the task of creating a PSA aimed at informing other high school students of the dangers of riding in a car without a seatbelt. This allows students to apply their knowledge and practice communicating findings and scientific information to fellow colleagues.
- Climate Change Investigations
- Students are not just told that there are changes occurring to the current climates on Earth. Instead, they are presented data to analyze and determine what patterns can be observed. From these patterns, students can then provide reasoning to explain their claims regarding the types of changes that are occurring based upon real-world evidence. An extension of this activity also asks students to consider what changes humans could make to their activities in order to reverse or minimize the current climate changes.
- Students use their knowledge of simple machines to develop a catapult that can launch an object approximately 10 feet and hit a small target. This activity requires students to partake in the engineering design process as they design, test, and use their results to make improvements to their catapult.
- Rural Medicine Drop
- After studying Newton's Laws of Motion, students are presented with a problem relating to the inability to get necessary supplies to a rural region. Students are then asked to design a solution to this problem in the form of a new container that could be used to safely drop medicine. As students develop their design, they conduct research, test their container, redesign based upon theier results, and finally communicate their results with their fellow classmates.
- Analyzing Hurricanes Using GIS
- Students create a map using web-based GIS software to analyze the movement of Hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean. This activity allows students to interpret data to gain a better understanding of the relationship between wind speed and air pressure. In addition, students also have the opportunity to propose potential solutions to the presence of storm surge and its effects on human populations based upon their understanding of hurricane movement.