What’s New in Science?

By Carrie Hetzel, PCY Assistant Principal

We are currently in the middle of the transition to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and all teachers are busy converting their curricula to fit the new standards. The biggest shift between the old and new standards is the increased focus on science skills, such as learning to reason and investigate.

LCUSD has been hosting a Science night each month since October with topics such as STEAM puppets, JPL Astronomy, and the Science of Sound to support the implementation of NGSS. In February the High School hosted its first Science Fair.  In March and April LCUSD will host the first Invention Convention at the High School and at La Canada Elementary there will be a School Maker Faire.  All teachers have been receiving training through WestEd to be able to implement the NGSS.  These trainings modeled effective NGSS aligned science lessons and gave teachers practical strategies to use in their classrooms with their students.  

Teachers are currently trying out these new strategies and resources and identifying best practices in their classrooms. They are aligning projects and field trips to the appropriate grade levels based on the new standards. Teachers are preparing for next year as it will be the first official year of fully implementing the NGSS standards.  This spring, fifth-graders will be taking the Field Test of the new California Science Test (CAST), and next year, the Operational CAST.

I am proud to share some of the excellent science learning experiences taking place at PCY. First graders planned their light investigations and designed their own towers.  Second graders are making observations and conclusions about matter.  Third graders tested and compared different designs for bridges.  Fourth graders planned and conducted electricity investigations, developed models of waves and information transfer, and constructed arguments about adaptations.  Fifth graders have had extensive practice modeling interactions within both ecosystems, and larger earth systems and sixth graders designed and tested water filters, and made observations and conclusions about weather. Even more has been happening behind-the-scenes, as teachers have been busily learning the best ways to teach new science standards to students. We have fun times of new science education ahead of us, and hope you are as excited as we are!