K - 8 Science Philosophy
The Flemington-Raritan Regional School District affirms the goals of science education as set forth in the National Science Teachers Association’s position statement on the Next Generation Science Standards:
“It is essential that all students have access to a high-quality science education that provides them with the skills and knowledge they need to be well-informed citizens, to be prepared for college and careers, and to understand and appreciate the scientific enterprise” (1).
The Flemington-Raritan School District’s philosophy is also consistent with the NSTA’s position that states:
“Teaching and learning are at the heart of quality science education. All students can develop science proficiency if the instruction provides them with opportunities for a range of scientific investigations and thinking, including—but not limited to—inquiry and investigation, collection and analysis of evidence, logical reasoning, and communication and application of information. The vision of the Framework and the NGSS is to engage students in the core ideas through the integration of science and engineering practices while making connections to the crosscutting concepts. Instruction, although varied in nature, should provide student proficiency in the following four strands (NRC 2007) and their related dimensions in the Framework and the NGSS:
- Knowing, using, and interpreting scientific explanations of the natural world (disciplinary core ideas and crosscutting concepts)
- Generating and evaluating scientific evidence and explanations (practices)
- Participating productively in scientific practices and discourse (practices)
- Understanding the nature and development of scientific knowledge (practices and crosscutting concepts)” (2).
The District recognizes that “Science education traditionally has focused on large volumes of content, primarily basic facts and vocabulary, while falling short on the deeper understanding of key scientific concepts and the application of these concepts to daily life” (2). As such, a paradigm shift is needed and will require a long-term commitment to refining curriculum and assessment, and providing on-going, high quality professional development.
The basis for our curriculum is the New Jersey Model Science Curriculum. We have adopted its structure, scope, and sequence which includes a spiraling curricula of life, physical, and earth sciences. The primary vehicle for instruction is the Knowing Science program in grades K-5 and the IQWST program in grades 6-8. Both seek to engage students with hands-on/mind-on activities.
It is our belief that the curriculum, assessment, and hands-on/minds-on approach will instill in students a sense of wonder and curiosity along with the skills and knowledge necessary to create, collaborate, communicate, and challenge students to be critical thinkers capable of solving real-world problems.