New hands-on curriculum aligned to standards launched
During the NSTA Annual Conference, Carolina Biological Supply Company, the leading school science supplier and NSTA sponsor, and the Smithsonian Science Education Center launched Smithsonian Science for the Classroom. Setting the standard in 3D learning and 3D assessment, the curriculum provides cohesive storylines, superior teacher support, and research-supported instructional design that is backed by proven results with point-of-use support. Smithsonian Science for the Classroom is a high-quality core science and engineering curriculum program specifically developed to meet the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This elementary curriculum is designed to engage, inspire, and connect grades K to 5 students firsthand to the world around them. Smithsonian Science for the Classroom helps teachers to integrate science, technology, math and engineering through engaging and hands-on lessons. Smithsonian Science for the Classroom is available now and includes print and digital components, as well as hands-on materials.
Educators are invited to visit Carolina’s booth #1345 at NSTA to see previews and meet Smithsonian leaders and science developers. Dr. Carol O’Donnell, Dr. Brian Mandell and lead curriculum developers Jean Flanagan and Dr. Sarah Glassman of the Smithsonian Science Education Center will be excited to visit with teachers and discuss Smithsonian Science for the Classroom from 2 to 4 p.m. today, and 10 to 11 a.m. tomorrow, on Friday, April 12. Carolina is also giving away free autographed Smithsonian Science Stories readers and Group Roles posters. Additionally, the Smithsonian and Carolina are presenting workshops on the new curriculum at the conference: “Smithsonian 3D Learning and 3D Assessment: Two Sides of One Coin” and “How Can We Provide Freshwater to Those in Need?”
Smithsonian Science for the Classroom bundles NGSS Performance Expectations in a way that answers a large driving question. Blending content, practices, and crosscutting concepts into a coherent storyline that addresses each question, the hands-on science and engineering modules were designed to engage and challenge students while meeting Performance Expectations. The modules integrate science and engineering seamlessly, as intended by NGSS. Guidance is provided through call-out boxes on where, when and how students are applying the three dimensions of NGSS (e.g. disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and cross-cutting concepts). This is especially useful for teachers who are relatively new to NGSS and also ensures that students are engaged in 3D learning.
New standards also mean new assessments. Smithsonian Science for the Classroom’s 3D assessment assists teachers in gauging how well students are progressing in all three dimensions through a variety of assessed performance tasks and written assessments.
“Smithsonian Science for the Classroom was designed new from the ground up to address the complexity and creativity of the NGSS,” said Dr. Brian Mandell, Division Director of Curriculum at the Smithsonian Science Education Center. “It was written in-house, by Smithsonian staff developers, which means that our team was able to constantly collaborate, check each other’s work, brainstorm new ideas, communicate with our field-test teachers and ensure cohesion in the program.”
Developers at the Smithsonian Science Education Center leveraged their incredible curiosity about the amazing things the researchers and curators are investigating at the Smithsonian, and wove that into a grades K to 5 curriculum. So the students who use Smithsonian Science for the Classroom and its accompanying literacy series, Smithsonian Science Stories, aren’t just getting an incredibly cohesive, engaging, NGSS-aligned curriculum, they are getting a chance to “visit” the Smithsonian and peek behind the scenes.
“We do a lot of work behind the scenes to collect data from Smithsonian and other sources and put it in the right format so students can do what scientists do – use real data to explain phenomena and solve problems!” said Dr. Katya Vines, Manager of Curriculum Development at the Smithsonian Science Education Center. “For example, we had some great data about guppies that allows students to conduct their own investigation on whether color in guppies is environmental or genetic. Students also love the lessons that use camera trap images. Through these lessons students learn about what scientists do and they love acting as citizen scientists themselves.”
Helping Teachers Implement Science
Smithsonian realized that an NGSS science product for elementary classrooms had to support teachers who don’t have as much time for science lessons as they do in the upper grades. Common Core Math and literacy connections are included in each lesson as well as in extension activities so that teachers can teach science, while also teaching to the end-of-grade math and literacy tests. Using these modules, teachers and administrators are able to “un-silo” their classrooms. Critical reading, writing and Math is integrated into these modules. The different curricular pieces don’t have to be taught in distinct time chunks.
Aware of the focus on literacy in elementary school, Smithsonian designed the hands-on curriculum so that it includes intentional literacy lessons that rely on a non-fiction reading from Smithsonian Science Stories to obtain data and information on a science concept, just like a scientist would. This helps teachers address the three dimensions of NGSS (e.g. the Science and Engineering Practice of Obtaining, Evaluating and Communicating information), while also addressing English language arts standards for informational texts.
Developed in Partnership with Teachers
The curriculum has been developed by teachers and in consultation with teachers at every stage of development and field tested in a range of schools with diverse populations.
“The kids absolutely enjoyed this,” said Tim Whelan, a fifth grade teacher at Homer Intermediate School in Homer, NY, who pilot tested the Smithsonian Science for the Classroom engineering module about conserving water with his class. “One young lady said this was the most fun she has ever had in science. I really felt the kids not only enjoyed it, but clearly made solid connections to how we can impact the world’s water supply in a positive manner.“
Smithsonian Science for the Classroom also draws on the latest findings and best practices from education research. One of the strengths of the curriculum is addressing science misconceptions from research at the point of use in the Teacher Guide. These help teachers identify student misconceptions specific to that lesson. There are also suggested dialogues to help teachers address these misconceptions with students.
Carolina Biological worked with Smithsonian in choosing materials that were familiar to teachers and students and streamlined the number of materials. These choices will reduce teachers’ prep time and leave more instructional time.
Smithsonian Science for the Classroom is available now and includes print and digital components, as well as hands-on materials. Fourteen modules of Smithsonian Science for the Classroom are currently available. Grades 3 to 5 each have four modules available. Grades 1 to 2 each have an engineering module available and six science modules are currently being field tested and are expected to be available in 2020. Each module includes a print-format Teacher Guide, a set of 16 Smithsonian Science Stories readers, a set of 10 Student Activity Guides (Grades 3 to 5), a class kit of hands-on materials to supply 32 students, and digital access to the Teacher Guide and student literacy materials. Prices start at $799.95 for one grade-level module through Carolina. Refurbishment sets are also available starting at $249 to refill the hands-on consumables for subsequent use of the module. Below grade and Spanish versions of the readers are also available for purchase. For information, visit Carolina’s website, call (800) 334-5551, or e-mail [email protected]
Smithsonian Science Education Center
The mission of the Smithsonian Science Education Center is to transform and improve the teaching and learning of science for PreK-12 students in the United States and throughout the world. Established in 1985 as the National Science Resources Center (NSRC) under the sponsorship of two prestigious institutions – the Smithsonian Institution and the National Academy of Sciences – the Center is dedicated to the establishment of effective science programs for all students. The Smithsonian Science Education Center works to build awareness for PreK-12 science education reform among global, state, and district leaders; conducts programs that support the professional growth of PreK-12 teachers and school leaders; and engages in research and curriculum development in partnership with it is publisher, Carolina Biological Supply Company, the sole source provider of STC, STCMS, and Smithsonian Science for the Classroom.
Carolina Biological Supply Company
From its beginnings in 1927, Carolina (www.carolina.com) has grown to become the leading supplier of biological and other science teaching materials in the world. Headquartered in Burlington, NC, Carolina serves customers worldwide, including teachers, students, and professionals in science and health-related fields. The company is still privately owned by descendants of the founder, geology and biology professor Dr. Thomas E. Powell Jr.