K-12 Science Literacy
Governor of New Hampshire
David B. Ruedig, Concord, Chairperson
Fred J. Bramante, Jr., Durham
Debra L. Hamel, Keene
Daphne A. Kenyon, Windham
John E. Lyons, Jr., Portsmouth
Mary E. McNeil, Bedford
William D. Walker, Campton
Lyonel B. Tracy
Mary S. Heath
Director, Division of Instruction
Administrator, Bureau of Accountability
Administrator, Curriculum and Assessment
Science Curriculum and Assessment Consultant
The New Hampshire Department of Education does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, marital status, national/ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, or disability in its programs, activities, and employment practices. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policies: Brenda Cochrane, ADA Coordinator, NH Department of Education, 101 Pleasant Street, Concord, NH 03301-3860, (603) 271-3743 TTY/V or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The information on the following pages is also available on our website at www.ed.state.nh.us.
Philosophy of the Frameworks
How do the new frameworks differ from the old ones?
Science should not be approached as a collection of isolated abilities and bits of information, but as a rich fabric of mutually supported ideas and skills that must develop overtime. From primary school to high school what students learn should build on what they learned before, makes sense in terms of what else they are learning, and prepare them for what they will learn next1.This framework looks at how kids perceive and interact with the world.
One of the major changes from the earlier framework can be seen the structure of the new frameworks reflecting the developmental stages of children. To help districts develop curricula for all grade levels, the new Frameworks for Science Literacy includes Grade Span Expectations (GSEs) that break down the content into specific grade spans (K-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-12). Each span lists proficiencies which indicate what all students should know and be able to do by the end of that grade span.
The old framework had six strands: 1) Inquiry; 2) Science, Technology and Society; 3) Life Science; 4) Earth Space Science; 5) Physical Science; and 6) Unifying Themes. Many district curricula had little to no emphasis on strands 1, 2, and 6. In the new edition, Science is divided into three content domains (Earth Space Science, Life Science, and Physical Science) and one Science Process Skills domain. Ideas and objectives which correspond to the 1995 Science Framework strands 1, 2, and 6 have been rolled into each of the new strands.
Science Process Skills (SPS) is a new addition to the Frameworks. It reflects the need to make sure that in the early years students develop specific skill sets that will help them be successful in future science experiences. The last section of the skills strand, SPS4, looks at goals for Information and Computer Technology standards in Science. This was included to help districts meet the needs of all students and to meet the new ICT requirements for K-8 and 9-12 digital portfolios.
Everything in the old framework could be the subject of the state assessment in science. In the new framework, only specific proficiencies will be part of the upcoming NECAP Science Assessment. These “NECAP Science Targets” are clearly marked in bold boxes throughout the GSEs for each grade span. They are also referenced in the Science Process Skills documents as they connect to Inquiry and the Unifying themes of science. The other proficiencies should become part of each districts local science assessment system.
Science comprises our knowledge about the natural world and the processes by which that knowledge is acquired, synthesized, evaluated, and applied. Therefore, science education must emphasize hands-on exploration and direct experience with the natural world. Students should be engaged in the observation of these phenomena whenever possible. Science is, above all, an inquiry activity that seeks answers to questions by collecting and analyzing data in an attempt to offer a rational explanation of naturally-occurring events. The knowledge that results from scientific problem solving is most useful when it is organized into concepts, generalizations, and unifying principles, which lead to further investigation of objects and events in the environment.
Science and technology are practiced in the context of human culture, and therefore, dynamic interactions occur among science, technology, and society. Each component-- inquiry and problem solving, and how these relate to each other and to society-- is critically important to instruction at every grade level.
Technology concerns the human-made world. Technology is much older than science, and has its roots in the very early use of tools by our human-like ancestors. Enabling our children to understand how humans modify the natural world to solve problems and to meet human needs and desires is equally as important as teaching them how to inquire about the natural world. And of course, these two endeavors are related. The reason for including technology along with science in the curriculum is stated in the National Science Education Standards: “Although these are science education standards, the relationship between science and technology is so close that any presentation of science without developing an understanding of technology would portray an inaccurate picture of science.” 2 The National Standards goes on to define technology and its relationship to science as follows:
“As used in the Standards, the central distinguishing characteristic between science and technology is a difference in goal: The goal of science is to understand the natural world, and the goal of technology is to make modifications in the world to meet human needs. Technology as design is included in the Standards as parallel to science as inquiry.” 3
In order to broaden our students’ career opportunities and awareness it is also important that they learn distinction between the occupations of scientist and engineer: Scientists propose explanations for questions about the natural world, and engineers propose solutions relating to human problems, needs, and aspirations. Scientists and engineers frequently work together in teams, along with people from other fields, to tackle the essential issues facing our society.