TEACHING CLIMATE CHANGE, ENERGY, AND CRITICAL ZONE SCIENCE: DEVELOPING OPTIMALLY DISTINCT APPROACHES TO SCIENCE EDUCATION REFORM
Using content related to climate change, energy, and Critical Zone (CZ) science, we engage in a conceptual investigation of the question, “Can atypical combinations of conventional educational approaches yield improvements to the outcomes of K-12 science education?” While each of these topic areas is clearly within the realm of science courses, none of the three topics is typically taught broadly or in depth. All are also strongly interdisciplinary, both within the sciences and beyond. Further, to be deeply understood, these topics all require understandings of systems science.
The Next Generation Science Standards is a disruption to the K-12 educational system that demands innovation. Advantaging the confluence of NGSS implementation with the growing importance of these highly interdisciplinary system-science topics while also attending to characteristic features of generally effective innovations holds promise for breaking science education reform’s long-standing losing streak. We advocate combining well-understood effective characteristics of field study with common classroom approaches across the curriculum to provide learning opportunities that are broad and deep in the approach to content and optimally distinct, thus offering durability of a science education reform approach.