The Next Generation

To continue with Stephanie’s Star Trek theme from a couple weeks ago, I also could not resist this excellent opportunity to talk about The Next Generation.

Except I’m not going to talk about Star Trek… or even Next Gen sequencing!The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have JUST been released by the National Science Teachers Association.  If you are not familiar with the NGSS, see here for more explanation of what they are and why they are important!

A very brief summary: Alongside the Common Core, a curriculum plan developed for K-12 education in the US as of 2010, the NGSS will be taught as a nationwide curriculum plan for sciences in all K-12 classrooms across the nation in those states that have adopted the standards (all but 3 states have adopted “The Core”).  The idea for a common core across the nation is that ALL US students would be taught the same subjects/skills at the same pace with the same standards.  As education is a state-governed domain, for years there have been disparities between states about what is important to learn and what is not.  With a common core, all students will be better prepared to pursue further education or careers, especially in STEM fields.  …Or, so, that’s the idea.

Okay, so now that you know, how does this fit into Lake Baikal?  Well, as you may or not remember, I am also participating in the Science First! grant at ETSU.  Since I will (regrettably) not be joining the team on the lake this year, I am here in East TN ticking away at RNA:DNA (ratios) and these NGSS.  As part of my stint with the GK-12 grant, I am now mapping the new standards with TN’s old standards.  Here’s the kicker: I am designing a curriculum map that includes activities that meet the new standards which include very abstract things like “students must be inquisitive” using Baikal as my muse!  I am using the Lake Baikal ecosystem as my go-to for activity planning and curriculum mapping.  The end result will be something like past NSF projects like ProjectWILD.


Crosscutting Concepts

Cause and Effect

Structure and Function

These are Grade 2 standards.  I mean what better ecosystem than that of Lake Baikal who exhibits all of the above in unique ways.


Crosscutting Concepts


This is a Grade 3 concept that crosscuts science that works nicely with climate change on the lake (and our project!).

The idea behind mapping the curriculum is that activities will ideally address several standards simultaneously as opposed to one standards at a time (the old way).  You can see that wading through the education jargon is not easy.  But hopefully, the end result will be a set of activities that assess all the nation’s standards using Baikal-centric examples.

This is my goal for the summer/next year.  I’ll keep you posted on the end result!  It’s going really well so far, so we’ll see where the future takes me!  Can you imagine a nationwide cohort of 5-year-olds spewing their knowledge of Epischura and Aulacoseira?!? I CAN! (and can’t wait!)

Keep checking for updates from the field!! Several of my colleagues have just touched down, and I am oh so jealous that I’m not there to rediscover the marvel of the lake once more!

Until next time,

p.s. ALL my kindergarteners graduated!


NSES Pre-Kindergarten Graduation May 2013


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1 Response to The Next Generation

  1. Pingback: Bringing the pieces together: the Baikal team face-to-face in Michigan | Lake Baikal Dimensions of Biodiversity

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