NGSS AND EARTH/SPACE SCIENCE: AN EXAMPLE HIGH SCHOOL CURRICULUM
The NGSS includes a broad range of Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI) including the Universe and stars, solar system, history of Earth, Earth materials and systems, plate tectonics and large scale system interactions, the role of water on Earth, weather and climate, biogeology, natural resources, natural hazards, human impacts, and climate change. In addition to these topics there is a strong emphasis on engineering principles. I will demonstrate how an aligned, well-designed Earth/Space Science course can address the DCI and encourage students to use scaling principles to create models; incorporate mathematical principles into investigations, experiments, and data analysis; design and refine solutions to identified problems; and use scientific evidence in writing. Students learn to make more explicit connections within natural and designed systems by evaluating cause/effect relationships and the forces and feedbacks that lead to stability or change. Students also develop an understanding of the role of different types of technologies on these systems.
Designing a high school level Earth/Space Science course that incorporates all of these components requires that we maintain a big-picture perspective and still pay attention to details. Curriculum design should utilize gap analysis to balance breadth and depth, as well as organization and flow. This ensures that students are given ample opportunities to gain an understanding of the content so they can apply their knowledge and skills creativity.