Students love to “do” science and be creative while engaged in the process. In order to be creative as they “do” it, they need know how scientists work. Students need to have an understanding of the practices that scientists use while working and be able to apply those practices in their classrooms.
One way that the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have made science creativity come to life is through the Science and Engineering Practices. This is how the practices are described on the NGSS website, “The practices describe what scientists do to investigate the natural world and what engineers do to design and build systems. The practices better explain and extend what is meant by “inquiry” in science and the range of cognitive, social, and physical practices that it requires. They are written to help teachers help students engage in practices to build, deepen, and apply their knowledge of core ideas and cross-cutting concepts.”
Here are the eight Science and Engineering Practices (downloadable pdf file)
- Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
- Developing and using models
- Planning and carrying out investigations
- Analyzing and interpreting data
- Using mathematics and computational thinking
- Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
- Engaging in argument from evidence
- Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
One way to start incorporating NGSS into your classroom might be to begin with the practices. If your students uncerstand the practices and what they are, then they will know how to work and act like scientists. Remember when we were introduced to the importance of the Standards for Mathematical Practice (SMPs)? Take all of your experience with incorporating them into your mathematics classroom, and embark on a journey to incorporate the Science and Engineering Practices into it too. I believe we have a head start by having had those experiences with the SMPs. After all, isn’t it important that science class opens up a student’s creative thoughts?