Category Archives: standards

Reflections on A Framework for Science Education

I just finished reading the National Research Council’s preliminary public draft of A Framework for Science Education. Since there has been some confusion, I’ll mention that this document is a framework for science and engineering education and not a collection of standards. Standards and curricula will likely be developed in the context of this framework.

As an engineer, I found it refreshing that the framework focuses on both science and engineering and the connections and similarities between them. Given the amount of time I spent as an engineer reading and writing technical documents (and the time I just spent reading this document), I was pleased that one of the practices was reading and analyzing technical documents. As someone interested in the history of science and engineering, the framework confirmed my experience that sharing the historical perspective increases students’ interest in science and engineering.

I don’t know if there was an explicit effort by the framework’s authors to incorporate the principles of the Modeling Methodology, but, regardless, the framework’s practices are closely aligned with it. Both model building and questioning are practices enumerated in the framework. I hope to better incorporate both of these aspects of modeling into my classroom this year.

In the prototype learning progressions, some specific concepts are enumerated. I was surprised by some of the concepts included. The emphasis on waves as a core idea was intriguing since, in my limited experience, sound and electromagnetic waves are not always part of a typical physics curriculum. For example, the prototype learning progressions included the concepts of modulation of electromagnetic waves and diffraction.

Overall, the framework’s architecture of core ideas, cross-cutting elements, and practices and its philosophy of depth versus breadth reinforces the direction that I believe my team is heading in physics. Of course, we’ll have to see how this framework influences the standards and curriculum developed within it.