The Challenge of Getting Earth and Space Science Into U.S.
High Schools

WashU Affiliated Authors: M. E. Wysession (Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences)

Abstract: The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which have now been adopted or adapted by
45 states and Washington, D.C., as their public K-12 science education standards, are not only revolutionizing
the way science is taught but are providing significant opportunities for an increased presence of Earth and
space science (ESS) in public high schools in many states across the U.S. The NGSS, which grew out of the
National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science Education, are the latest in a > 150-year history
of attempts to shape the science education standards within U.S. states. NGSS-designed curricula, which
focus on the practices of science and allow students to explore science through following storylines developed
around student-relevant phenomena, are engaging and effective, and are reshaping K-12 science courses at a
surprisingly rapid pace. In the process, large numbers of U.S. high schools that have never included substantial
ESS are now doing so for the first time, providing a significant opportunity to make substantial improvements
in general U.S. geoscience literacy. There is still far to go and a successful integration of ESS into the K-12
education across all states will require substantial service work on the part of geoscientists.

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