From K-12 Science Framework Committee Chair Helen Quinn to the physics community: How to get involved

From Dr. Quinn’s “Back Page” commentary in the November issue of “APS News”:

Many physicists have asked me what roles they can play in advancing K-12 science education. First and foremost, educate yourself about research on learning and about the context in which teachers work. Become better informed about the issues in your state and local school district and then volunteer. For example, state bodies decide issues such as criteria for teacher certification, or for adoption of textbooks, and you can get engaged in these decisions. The Forum on Education sessions at APS meetings and its newsletter provide information and ideas. The APS, together with AAPT, supports a network of universities known as “PhysTEC” devoted to exploring how physics departments can be effectively engaged in teacher education; have your department join the network and attend its meetings. NRC studies provide another useful source of information. Key to the development of the framework were two prior studies “Taking Science To School” (2007) and “Learning Science in Informal Environments” (2009). Each of these reports comes with a more practice-oriented volume, “Ready Set, Science” (2008) and “Surrounded by Science” (2010) respectively. These are also available at If you work with teachers, adopt the terminology of the framework around practices and cross-cutting ideas as it fits into what you are doing, to help teachers develop their understanding of them. If you teach introductory science courses, think about these ideas in that context. The science courses, as well as the science education courses, that prospective teachers take in college need to be designed to enable them to understand, and eventually to be able to teach, science and engineering practices and crosscutting concepts as well as the disciplinary core ideas. Carrying the arguments of the framework beyond the K-12 realm, it is my conviction that introductory science courses that are so designed would also better serve students who do not plan to become teachers than courses that focus only on conveying scientific knowledge.



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