Wachusett Regional School District
Wachusett Mountain

Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum

Curriculum Frameworks K-12

Approved by School Committee 12/16/02

The Process

In May, 2001, the Massachusetts Department of Education issued a new Curriculum Framework in the area of science4 and technology/engineering.  In order to maintain currency with its curriculum, the District organized a science task force comprised of teachers, curriculum staff, and a school administrator at the beginning of the 2001-2002 school year to realign the District's current curriculum with that of the state's.

Dr. Wheeler, math/science curriculum specialist, provided the group with a baseline framework of topics that the state had rearranged/realigned to aid them.  Groups (K-5) then met by grade level and realigned topics to include technology and engineering, while maintaining as much from the former curriculum as possible.

Grades 6, 7, and 8 met and were faced with major changes as the District moved from a spiraling curriculum to a vertically aligned (topically subdivided) curriculum in these grades.   This resulted in grade six now focusing on earth and space science, grade seven focusing on life science, and grade eight focusing on physical science.  A separate group of technology/engineering teachers convened to integrate the state's new strand in that field to the science curriculum for grades 6-8.

High school teachers met by disciplines and developed curriculum guides for each course that also aligned with the upcoming NEASC accreditation.  Curriculum specialist Clif Wheeler met with all groups during this realignment process.  All groups (K-2, 3-5, 6-8) were brought together following their individual sessions to ensure a spiral of curriculum throughout the grades as well as to avoid any overlaps and gaps.  The entire group was reconvened one final time to provide input on the entire document.  They decided that guiding principles, based on the national standards, were a key component to the document.   The result is the new Wachusett Regional School District Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework.

Introduction

The Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework is one of seven curriculum frameworks that advance Massachusetts's educational reform in learning, teaching, and assessment.  It was created, and has been revised, by Massachusetts's teachers and administrators of science and technology/engineering programs in kindergarten through grade twelve.  Its purpose is to guide teachers and curriculum coordinators about what content should be taught from kindergarten through high school.

Because the 1993 education reform act required that frameworks be reviewed and revised periodically, a panel of Wachusett Regional School District teachers examined the standards in the original framework to ensure a more coherent organization of concepts and skills throughout the grade levels.  The panel used the following reference sources to create this document: Benchmarks for Science Literacy–Project 2001; data from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS); the National Research Council's National Science Education Standards; the Technology For All Americans Project; results from the administration of the MCAS; and advances in science and technology/engineering.

Organization of the Framework

The guiding principles present a set of tenets about effective k-12 programs and instruction in science and technology/engineering.  These principles articulate the ideals of teaching, learning, assessing, and administering science and technology/engineering programs in the district.  In addition, they show how educators may create educational environments encouraging curiosity, persistence, respect for evidence, and open mindedness balanced with skepticism and, a sense of responsibility.  The strands organize the content areas into earth and space science, life science (biology), physical science (physics and chemistry), and technology/engineering.  Each strand details the essential knowledge and skills that students should acquire through the grades.   The learning standards within each strand are organized by grade span and grouped by subject area topics.  Following the topics at the high school level are broad concepts to which the learning standards are related.  The standards outline in detail what students should know and be able to accomplish at the end of each grade span.

For grades k-5, the standards are accompanied by ideas for developing investigations and learning experiences in science and by extensions to learning in technology/engineering.

For grades 6-8, the science standards are accompanied by examples of sound, science-based learning experiences.   There are no extensions to technology/engineering associated with the science learning standards at this level because technology education is configured as a separate course in grades 6-8.

For grades nine and above, learning standards are listed for full first-year courses in earth and space science, biology, physics, chemistry, and technology/enginneering.

Guiding Principles

Guiding Principle I

A comprehensive science and technology/engineering education program enrolls all students from K through grade 12.

Guiding Principle II

An effective science and technology/engineering program builds students' understanding of the fundamental concepts of each domain of science and their understanding of the connections across these domains and to basic concepts in technology/engineering.

Guiding Principle III

Science and technology/engineering are integrally related to mathematics.

Guiding Principle IV

An effective program in science and technology/engineering addresses students' prior knowledge and misconceptions.

Guiding Principle V

Investigation, experimentation, and problem solving are central to science and technology/engineering education.

Guiding Principle VI

Students learn best in an environment that conveys high academic expectations for all students.

Guiding Principle VII

Assessment in science and technology/engineering serves to inform student learning, guide instruction, and evaluate student progress.

Guiding Principle VIII

An effective program in science and technology/engineering gives students opportunities to collaborate in scientific and technological endeavors and communicate their ideas.

Guiding Principle IX

A coherent science and technology/engineering program requires district-wide planning to ensure the curriculum is a coherent whole.

Guiding Principle X

Implementation of an effective science and technology/engineering program requires collaboration with experts, appropriate materials, support from parents and community, ongoing professional development, and quantitative and qualitative assessment.

CORE CONCEPT

If students are to become familiar with and feel ownership of questions pertaining to science and technology, they need to engage with them the way scientists and technologists do. They wrestle with contradiction, puzzle through paradoxes, evaluate evidence, and search for connections. These pursuits require students to deal with the "real world" - both natural and human-made - and they often find that one question leads to another.  Asking questions and evaluating evidence are central to the core concept of inquiry-based science education.

Strands


Unifying Concepts and Processes - Strand 1
  • Systems Order and Organization
  • Evidence, Models and Explanation
  • Constancy, Change and Measurement
  • Evolution and Equilibrium
  • Form and Function
Science As Inquiry - Strand 2
  • Understanding of Scientific Concepts
  • An Appreciation of "How One Know" What One Know In Science
  • Understanding of Nature of Science
  • Skills necessary to become independent inquirers about the natural world
  • The dispositions to use the skills, abilities and attitudes associated with science
Physical Science, Life Science, Earth and Space Technology/Engineering - Strand 3
  • Physical Science
    • Properties of objects and materials
    • Position and motion of objects
    • Forms and types of energy
    • Light, heat, electricity and magnetism
  • Life Science
    • The characteristics of organisms and heredity
    • Life Cycles of organisms, plant structures and functions
    • Organisms, environments and adaptation
  • Earth and Space Science
    • Properties of earth materials, including rocks and minerals
    • Earth in the solar system
    • Weather and factors that affect it
    • Water cycle
  • Technology .Engineering
    • Characteristics and use of materials and tools
    • use of creative thinking and strategies to solve practical problems
    • Use of simple and complex machines
Science Applications - Strand 4

Science In Person and Social Perspectives - Strand 5

History and Nature of Science - Strand 6