- Schools throughout California are increasingly turning toward curriculum provided by science education nonprofits in order to teach the state's newly implemented Next Generation Science Standards, which emphasize having students "figure out" concepts instead of just being told about them, reports Edutopia.
- Since the state's science education standards are new, teachers struggling to put together textbook and instructional materials see help from education nonprofits, which is often free and highly accessible, as a great and valuable option, says California Science Teachers Association President Lisa Hegdahl.
- Though California schools are using the help of nonprofits to meet NGSS, other schools and instructors can also look at these institutions for ideas on improving science education and enhancing creativity; Hegdahl, for instance, has looked toward groups like Monterey Bay Aquarium, NASA and the Exploratorium, among others.
A recent survey from Lockheed Martin, meant to see if students were prepared for a workforce that could potentially send humans to Mars, asked middle and high school teachers about their students' interest in STEM education, finding that only 38% of educators believed a majority of students seemed “naturally interested” in STEM-related subjects.
California schools' use of science education nonprofits, such as NASA — which already has numerous partnerships with schools and governments — demonstrate a valuable strategy by which educators may be able to reinvigorate their students' interests in science and engineering. For instance, in the survey, 83% of educators said that curriculum that includes interesting topics like space would probably make their students' more interested in STEM subjects.
Many schools in California have already seen success in enhancing student engagement with scientific subjects through a strategy of working with nonprofits, like Stoneman Elementary. Groups like the California Academy of Sciences offer services including free online science lessons, K-12 lesson plans, field trips, teacher training workshops, online classes and gamified lessons.