What motivates you? Doing experiments, investigations and seeing what happens with them motivates many people.  That is the NGSS.Motivate students

Doing science and engineering is emphasized in the NGSS rather than reading about or watching science being done.  The authors of the Framework for K-12 Science Education state, “students cannot fully understand scientific and engineering ideas without engaging in the practices of inquiry and the discourses by which such ideas are developed and refined. At the same time, they cannot learn or show competence in practices except in the context of specific content.” (2012, p. 218)

Truck pictureWhich is more motivating, listening to lecture about forces and an object rolling down a hill, or conducting an investigation yourself where you roll an object down a hill and change the angle or the surface of the hill? We, and particularly children, like doing things. Research has also found learning is better retained when the learner is engaged.

As a component of the a standards here are eight practices in the NGSS. These  describe how students should be doing science and engineering requiring student to demonstrate their knowledge through the use of these practices.

The eight practices in the NGSS are:

  1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering);
  2. Developing and using models;
  3. Planning and carrying out investigations;
  4. Analyzing and interpreting data;
  5. Using mathematics and computational thinking;
  6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering);
  7. Engaging in argument from evidence; and
  8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.

With the middle school example standard below from the NGSS, and then zooming in on just the science and engineering practices for motion and stability one can see the detail about practices for this standard (figure 1) .

Sci and Eng Practices graphic

; Figure 1: Science and Engineering Practices box for Middle School: Motion and Stability

[Click on Image to Enlarge (Full-Size Image)]

To see a glimpse of the practices in action here are some videos.

**NOTE** When watching these videos it is important to remember that the students are using more than one practice in their work, as the practices are rarely done in silos. These videos also represent what a practice might look like and may not be professionally produced, so they do not necessarily represent exemplary classrooms but instead feature typical classrooms using these practices. 

1. Asking questions (for science) (Video – High School Students)  (Video – Middle School Students) and defining problems (for engineering) (Video – High School Students)

2. Developing and using models (Video – High School) (Web based Game – Middle School and High School)
In this middle school standard there is an explicit connections to the Nature of Science, so this is also included with the practices.

3. Planning and carrying out investigations (Video – Elementary School Students)

4. Analyzing and interpreting data (Video – Middle School)  (Video- Elementary School)

5. Using mathematics and computational thinking  (Video – High School)

6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering) (Video – Elementary School)

7. Engaging in argument from evidence (Video – Elementary School)

8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information (Video – Elementary School)  (Video – High School)


In-depth explanations of the scientific and engineering practices can be found in the Framework for K-12 Science Education and at the NGSS web site.

What does a complete NGSS standard look like? Every NGSS standard is made up of seven boxes with information related to that standard.

What other communication resources could be available for my state? There are a number of initiatives that are designed to support teachers with the implementation of the NGSS.

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