The Next Generation Science Standards, released in 2013, were immediately hailed as a triumph in the standardization of education across the country.
The sales pitch was that students could switch school systems and have the same curriculum wherever they went. Having been developed by the National Science Teaching Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Research Council, among others, the Standards were readily embraced by almost all the 50 states.
So, what is the problem with the NGSS? Other than that many science concepts are only briefly covered or completely left out, the biggest error of omission is the Scientific Method.
The Scientific Method is a millennia-old approach to problem solving that uses observation and the collection of empirical data. This method has been accepted worldwide as the standard for any kind of scientific research. Not only is it relied upon by scientists but the Scientific Method is also codified in U.S. law under Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence and the Daubert standard for scientific evidence.
However, the NGSS has no lesson plans that include the Scientific Method nor even a mention of it in the description of standards.
The NGSS state that “students engage in practices to build, deepen, and apply their knowledge of core ideas and crosscutting concepts.” The problem is that students are told what to think and then encouraged to build models to confirm their thinking.
The Scientific Method has been replaced by engineering practices, which are applied science and not a path to novel scientific discoveries. Without the critical thinking that comes with learning the Scientific Method, future generations will be handicapped in the pursuit of scientific discoveries and day-to-day problem solving.
The science education of almost every public school in America is a disservice to students and society at large.