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Introducing Next Generation Science Standards


On the first day of school, Superintendent Matthews visited Buena Vista Horace Mann, a kindergarten through eighth grade school in the heart of the Mission District. The staff there created opportunities for students to examine different aspects of the partial solar eclipse, using art, movement, research, discussions, and of course, observation.

This multisensory, multidisciplinary approach is how all of our students will be learning science as we roll out the new SFUSD Science Core Curriculum based on the Next Generation Science Standards.

How does it work?

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and our new Science Core Curriculum teach students the science method beyond the memorizing of facts and formulas. Students focus on making observations, asking questions and eventually solving real-world problems—just like adult scientists and engineers do.

For example, this morning, BVHM students gathered information about the solar eclipse information in many ways, including their observations while looking at the sun (with NASA-approved eclipse glasses) and using pinhole projections to see the shadow of the partial eclipse.

To help make sense of what is causing the eclipse, they also picked up a basketball, a ping pong ball and an even tinier ball. Then, using a flashlight and the basketball to simulate the sun, they imitated the motions of the sun, moon and earth with the three balls and recreated the eclipse by having the “moon” pass in front of the “sun.”

But the exploration didn’t stop there. Older students showed younger ones how to form questions about the eclipse. Then they all came up with claims to answer their questions with the scientific data they gathered during the eclipse.

Why do we do it this way now?

Plain and simple, this is way more fun than reading some dry paragraphs from a textbook. And, as studies show, by holding the “moon” and “sun” or diagramming it, our students will begin to understand this scientific process in a way that will stick with them for years.

Want to learn more?

The SFUSD Science Department is brimming with information for you.