Education Week Covers How an OpenSciEd Unit Is Used in the Classroom

March 05, 2020


The Art of Making Science Accessible and Relevant to All Students

By: Catherine Gewertz

On the island of Oahu in Hawaii, 2nd graders weave mats, baskets, or other objects from the local hala plant. In northeastern Oklahoma, middle schoolers investigate why light makes some surfaces work like windows and others like mirrors.

Thousands of miles apart, those projects have something powerful in common: They were designed with equity in mind. The lesson writers deliberately chose, as anchors for the lessons, natural phenomena that all students know equally and can see in their own lives.

Centering science lessons on phenomena that are universal—like light—or deeply rooted in a region's culture or location—like the hala plant—can make science more relevant and interesting for students. But they can also have a powerful role in building equity, since all students begin with something they know.

"I'm not going to have students investigate the chemical reaction of the family silver tarnishing, because not all kiddos are going to have that experience in their lives," said Rebecca Morales, the science-curriculum coordinator in the Broken Arrow, Okla., school district. "I try to get my teachers thinking about choosing phenomena that all students as humans can consider."

Conversations like these are unfolding across the country, as more than 40 states implement the Next Generation Science Standards, or standards based on their underlying Framework for K-12 Science Education.

Equity is woven through the NGSS and their framework; the documents frame expectations for all students, not just those aiming for science careers. Phenomena-based instruction is...

Read the full article on edweek.org

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