From the Chair-Elect, George Bodner, Winter 2011

George Bodner, Chair-electAs the days get shorter and the holidays that mark the end of the calendar year get closer, our workload seems to increase even further as we prepare for the end of one semester (or quarter) and the beginning of another. This transition is also marked by a shift in the progression for those elected to offices in DivCHED. Soon, I will no longer be able to take refuge behind the fact that I am the chair-elect and will take on the obligations involved in serving a term as chair of the Division.

This edition of the newsletter marks another event in the sequence of changes in the operation of the Division that have resulted from the transition from a printed newsletter mailed to members at well-established times during the year to a version that can be distributed electronically. I would therefore like to acknowledge the input that was provided by so many people to answering the question: When should the electronic newsletters be made available to members of the Division? I would also like to thank the officers of the Division and the many committee chairs who contributed to the content of this newsletter.

I would like to focus my comments for this newsletter on a meeting organized by the Science & Mathematics Teacher Imperative (SMTI) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) earlier this Fall. I was one of three representatives from the ACS; the others were Mary Kirchhoff and Terri Taylor from the ACS Education Division. The meeting brought together individuals from science and engineering societies, funding agencies, K-12 and higher-education associations, and the National Research Council (NRC). The object of the meeting was to explore ways that higher-education associations and discipline-based societies can contribute to new efforts to develop science and mathematics standards for use in K-12 education.

A Framework for K-12 Science EducationThe basis of the discussion was an NRC report entitled “A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas” that might be of interest to DivCHED members. Free PDF versions of the report are available at the National Academies Press website (www.nap.edu). The goals of the Framework include a coherent investigation of core ideas in science and mathematics across multiple years of school, and a more seamless blending of practices with core ideas and crosscutting concepts. The authors of the Framework document developed a list of eight science and engineering practices that include: (1) asking questions/defining problems, (2) developing/using models, (3) planning/carrying out investigations, (4) analyzing/interpreting data, (5) using mathematics/information, (6) developing explanations/designing solutions, (7) engaging in argument, and (8) obtaining/evaluating/communicating information. Their list of “crosscutting concepts” includes the existence/recognition of patterns; cause and effect; scale, proportion and quantity; systems and system models; energy and matter; structure and function; and stability and change.

A report that was made available at this meeting was entitled “Developing the Next Generation Science Standards.” It notes that the NRC’s National Science Education Standards are now 15-years old. The timeline for the release of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is late 2012. The goal is a set of science standards, based on the Framework of K-12 Science Education, that are rich in both content and practice, and are arranged in a coherent manner across both disciplines and grades. More information about the NGSS project can be found at www.nextgenscience.org.

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