CSTA Classroom Science

NGSS - Next Generation Science Students

By Leah Wheeler

For the past 10 years, students have entered my 5th and 6th grade classrooms with little science experience.  Because science has not been taught and takes the backseat to all other subject areas, students had no idea how fascinating science could really be for them.  However, this past year, I had the pleasure to be a part of Galt Elementary School District’s NGSS Early Implementation team and it has truly transformed how I teach science in my classroom.

In years past, students would moan, “Oh no, science!” and, “This is so boring just reading out of a book,” but not this year.  This year students are enthused about learning science and thrilled for the opportunity to explore something new.

We started out our school year exploring Earth’s systems and the human impact on those systems.  Students took their knowledge of the hydrosphere and our impact on Earth’s fresh water supply, and they engineered water filters to clean out contaminants in polluted water.  Although a future article is in the works detailing the actual lesson series, I want to first share a follow-up activity I had the students complete. I asked students to take a quick survey so I could gauge how they felt about their science and engineering experiences thus far into our school year.

The two questions that were asked on the survey were:

- How has science been different for you this year compared to previous years?  

- What has been your favorite part of science this year? 

Here are the responses of my fifth graders:

“Science has been very different for me this year because, I have never been able to have science labs where you need to plan and think about what you have to do.”

“This year, science is even more fun! I normally love science, but this year is so much fun. During science, we get to do hands-on science experiments. An example would be when we got to filter water.”

“Over all of the years in my school years it is a lot funner because we build stuff like water filters and structures. When we build stuff it helps me become an engineer. That is why this year’s science is better and funner this school year. I never thought science was that fun until now.”

“I love that science has been hands on this year instead of just reading from a book.  Science is fun!”

“I like science this year versus past years because all we ever did was read out of a textbook.”

“I think science is really fun this year because we’ve been able to a lot of activities that teach us how to take care of our environment.

“Science has been more fun this year than all of my other years in school.  We actually make stuff and it helps me become an engineer.”

“I like science because its been better than previous years.  With the labs that we do, it makes it fun to learn about science.”

“Science has been different because we were learning how to build filters to see if the water is clean.”

“Science has been fun this year and I’ve learned more.”

“Science has been a hands on experience because it is more interesting than past years.”

“Science is fun and active. When I have fun in science, it helps me learn.”

I no longer hear the moans from my students when I tell them it is time for science, but I do get moaning when it is time to stop doing science, which is refreshing. My mission as a teacher is to continue to create Next Generation Science Students, and I feel that they are well on their way to becoming our future thinkers.

Leah Wheeler is a 5th Grade teacher at Lake Canyon Elementary, Galt Joint Union School District, and a member of CSTA.



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