STEAM and the Next Generation Science Standards: Aligning your curriculum with NGSS standards

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Today, we’re diving into an exciting topic: how STEAM aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards (or NGSS for short). We’ll explore how blending art with the wonders of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics can create vibrant lesson plans that engage and educate. Let’s get started!

What are STEAM and NGSS?

Before we jump in, let’s unpack these acronyms.

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. It’s an educational approach that combines the logical, problem-solving tactics of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with the creative expression and innovative perspectives of Art. STEAM ensures students receive a holistic education. This helps them not only absorb facts but also learn how to think critically.

Now, the NGSS, or Next Generation Science Standards, represents a fresh take on science education. It’s a multi-state effort in the U.S. to create new education standards that are rich in content and practice. These are arranged in a coherent manner across grade levels. The essence of NGSS is not just about knowing science but doing science. It’s about ensuring students at all grade levels get an active, hands-on experience, allowing them to understand and apply scientific concepts rather than merely memorizing them.

Together, STEAM and NGSS are a formidable duo. They’re all about ensuring students are both engaged in their learning and building needed skills. By integrating these approaches, we’re aiming to craft a more effective educational experience for all learners.

The Goals of the NGSS

The NGSS didn’t just pop up overnight. Educators and scientists realized that students needed a new approach—one that’s more hands-on and relevant to the real world. The core goals of the NGSS are:

  • Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs): These are the big ideas in science, like how plants make their food or why volcanoes erupt.
  • Science & Engineering Practices (SEPs): This is all about getting your hands dirty (sometimes literally!) by doing science and engineering tasks.
  • Crosscutting Concepts: Think of these as the “lenses” through which we can view any scientific topic. They tie different topics together and help us see the bigger picture.

STEAM and NGSS: A Perfect Team

STEAM and the Next Generation Science Standards are like two puzzle pieces that fit perfectly together in the world of learning. The great thing about STEAM is that it is all about combining subjects like science, math, and art to learn in fun and creative ways. On the other hand, NGSS makes sure we really understand and experience science, not just memorize it. When we use both together, we get to learn cool science stuff and show it off in artsy projects.

When we mix STEAM and NGSS, it’s like turning the classroom into a playground of discovery! We get to do hands-on experiments and tackle real problems, just like scientists and engineers do. Maybe we’ll design a new gadget, paint a mural about space, or even put on a play about how plants grow. With STEAM and NGSS, we’re not just reading and taking tests. We’re exploring, creating, and learning in the best way possible!

Aligning STEAM with NGSS Standards in Your Lessons

Okay, educators, this one’s for you! If you’re looking to jazz up your lesson plan, here’s how to make STEAM align with the NGSS standards:

1. Incorporate All Three NGSS Dimensions 

Remember the DCIs, SEPs, and Crosscutting Concepts we talked about? Bring them into your STEAM projects. For instance, if you’re teaching about ecosystems, students could design an art project showing the food chain (DCI), set up a mini ecosystem in the classroom (SEP), and discuss patterns they observe (a Crosscutting Concept).

2. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Combine subjects! It could be a math lesson where you also talk about engineering design. Or it’s a music lesson where you dive into the science of sound waves.

3. Real Problems, Real Solutions

Let students tackle real-world issues. Whether it’s figuring out how to save water in the school garden or designing a more efficient lunch tray, give them a chance to problem solve.

4. Check and Reflect

After your lesson, see how it went. Were the NGSS standards covered? Did students get a taste of each part of STEAM? Reflect and adapt for next time.

Why Combining STEAM and NGSS is a Game-Changer

Mixing STEAM with NGSS might sound like a lot of work for teachers. It means changing some lessons and trying new things. But the rewards are huge!

When we blend STEAM and NGSS, students learn by doing. They don’t just remember facts; they really understand them. They become great problem-solvers and think outside the box. This hands-on way of learning helps students remember better and enjoy the topics more.

In our fast-changing world, students need many skills. With STEAM’s creativity and NGSS’s solid science, they get the best of both. They’re ready for jobs in tech, design, science, and more. Plus, by connecting art and science, students get excited about learning. Tough science ideas become fun and easy to grasp with art.

In short, even though it takes some extra effort at first, merging STEAM and NGSS gives students amazing skills and a love for learning. It’s totally worth it!

Wrapping Up 

There you have it! The magic of STEAM and the Next Generation Science Standards can make learning a thrilling experience for students of all grade levels. Whether you’re a teacher, parent, or student, there’s a lot to be excited about when art meets science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Let’s embrace it and create lesson plans that inspire, educate, and empower the next generation!

Looking for Accessible STEM Education?

As we move into the twenty-first century, STEM subjects are becoming essential for students to learn. Getting familiar with technology and learning to use and create it opens a wide field of jobs. Here at 21stCentEd, we are passionate about helping young people prepare for a bright future in which their STEM skills will help them find jobs that will be relevant in this digital age.

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At 21stCentEd, a strong tomorrow is what we’re all about. We’ve been deeply invested in creating interactive STEM tools for kids for many years.