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Do the New Science Standards Get Science Right?

Following quickly on the heels of the Common Core Standards, drafted by the National Governors Association, comes a framework for creating standards for science education developed by the National Research Council (NRC). From now until August 2, the NRC is taking public comments on its draft.

Over at the blog Thoughts from Kansas, Josh Rosenau, an ecology and evolutionary biology PhD student at the University of Kansas, takes a look at the central tenet of the standards, namely, how the NRC chooses to define science:

A creative and analytic human intellectual endeavor engaging hundreds of thousands of people worldwide to attain shared goals of understanding the material world and application of that understanding to solving real-world problems. A cumulative and evolving body of knowledge formalized into a rigorously-tested and mutually consistent set of clearly articulated theories. A set of practices for investigation, model and hypothesis development, theory building, argumentation, analysis, and communication of findings about the material world that support development of new understanding. A set of cross-cutting concepts and strategies that inform work in all disciplinary areas of the natural sciences.


The manner in which science is defined is important, so that future generations don't have to grapple with culture wars surrounding topics, such as evolution vs. creationism vs. intelligent design.

Rosenau says the NRC is off to a good start: "This emphasizes that science is a thing you do, first and foremost," he writes. "The repetition of 'material world' is important, as it emphasizes science's limitation to natural phenomena ..."

It'll be interesting to keep an eye on how these standards evolve, and which states end up adopting them down the road.

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