NSD board approves K-8 science curriculum

A newly approved science curriculum for grades K-8 will help Northshore students expand their work with science and engineering while incorporating more math and literacy.

“We are thrilled to offer our students more robust learning in science,” says Superintendent Michelle Reid. “With so many careers requiring a deeper understanding of science and engineering, it’s especially important to give students a strong start in the early years.”

The Northshore School Board on June 13 approved TCI’s “Bring Science Alive!” curriculum for grades K-5 in the fall and Carolina’s “Science and Technology Concepts” program for grades 6-8. The middle school curriculum will begin with sixth-graders this fall, then expand to seventh-graders the following year, and eighth-graders the year after that.

The new curriculum more closely aligns science learning to the Next Generation Science Standards, adopted by the state in 2013.

While previous curriculum typically focused on activities or experiments designed to verify a particular scientific concept, the new curriculum engages students in problem-based learning.

“The new curriculum poses a question and asks students to explore, collect data, analyze and write about it,” says Assistant Director of Curriculum and Instruction Christy Clausen. “If students come up with different answers, they will discuss how they came up with the alternative result. They really look at the ‘why’ of what’s happening.”

While piloting the new curriculum, for example, fourth-graders at Fernwood Elementary were asked how buildings could be constructed for stability in earthquakes. They used straws, tape and paper clips to test designs on “shake tables,” and they continued to go back and follow an iterative design process until they had engineered a stable structure.

“It’s much more collaborative, too,” says Clausen. “While working in teams, you will hear students saying, ‘Let’s try this. Wow, that didn’t work. We need to try something different.’”

Teacher training begins in August and will continue with regular professional development on the new materials.