CRITICAL ZONE SCIENCE IS TO SCIENCE AS THE NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS ARE TO SCIENCE EDUCATION
The CZ extends from the tops of the vegetation to the bottom of the groundwater. Nearly all terrestrial life inhabits the CZ. The NSF funds nine CZ Observatories (CZOs) where interdisciplinary teams of scientists study the interplay of rock and life, mitigated by water and air.
This approach to science is “optimally distinct,” meaning that conventionally understood practices and ideas are brought together in unconventional ways. Such approaches are common to successful innovations, and they are rare in educational innovation. CZ science is clearly interdisciplinary and three-dimensional. It offers an opportunity for innovation by mimicry within the educational system as a vehicle for NGSS implementation.
climate, energy, and CZ science each can only be deeply understood from an interdisciplinary perspective; and
the most effective professional development (PD) includes ample attention to unique disciplinary knowledge for teaching (PCK); and
effective PD is the exception,
we raise the question, “Can we modularize curriculum & PD such that the more teachers, disciplines, and grade levels that participate in an interdisciplinary approach, the more students deepen their understanding of the interdisciplinary issue (climate, energy, or CZ science)?”
While much of science education “works,” in that we produce successful scientists, the system of science education is not regarded as generally successful, and efforts at reform in recent decades have yielded few conspicuous positive outcomes. By attending research on innovation more broadly and using CZ science as a model for moving forward in educational change, we offer promise for successful NGSS implementation.