Applying Knowledge in Context

Science is not meant to be taught in a vacuum. It provides a critical foundation for understanding the world around us, but in many of our country’s schools, the science curriculum is reduced to lists of facts cut off from the context of what makes them important.

Teaching only the products of scientific work (the facts of science) denies students critical tools of understanding. To get a more complete picture, students also must understand how those facts came to be.

The Next Generation Science Standards integrate three dimensions of scientific thinking:

  1. The content of science (Disciplinary Core Ideas)
  2. How science knowledge is acquired and understood (Science and Engineering Practices)
  3. How sciences are connected through concepts that have universal meaning across the disciplines (Crosscutting Concepts)

This integrated perspective gives students a system of thinking that stretches beyond the classroom material. The standards encourage students to learn science using practical experiences to make lessons relevant.

Though they have often been left out of the K-12 curriculum, practical subjects like engineering, medicine, agriculture, and forensics can provide a context for students to test their developing scientific knowledge and apply it to real-world problems that connect science to the world around them.

More About What Makes the Standards Different