On October 15, 2019, Maple Point MS science teachers Chuck Lumio and Dan Winter held a lunchtime conference call with the Senior Project Manager of the Amplify Science program through the University of California at Berkley. Neshaminy has been leading the way for the past several years integrating Next Generation Science Standards through Amplify, and these two teachers were providing feedback on their classroom experience with the program and the success of various modifications they have made to increase their student’s engagement.
Thee scientific practices in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), as defined by the National Research Council (NRC), include the critical thinking and communication skills that students need for postsecondary success and citizenship in a world fueled by innovations in science and technology. These science practices encompass the habits and skills that scientists and engineers use day in and day out. The standards were developed by a wide consortium of experts from the educational, scientific and research communities. Neshaminy High School Lead Science Teacher Brian Suter has been instrumental in working with educators across Pennsylvania and the country to incorporate these forward-thinking standards into science programs nationwide.
Amplify Science is a curriculum program that encompasses Next Generation Science Standards. Neshaminy introduced Amplify in the high school and middle schools, modifying some of the methods and activities to meet the needs of students based on real-time feedback from teachers and students. Neshaminy teachers are sharing this knowledge with Amplify researchers, who are then able to incorporate that into future Amplify curriculum across the nation. Elements of Amplify and NGSS are also being introduced to the District elementary schools.
Amplify Science was introduced to the middle schools in 2017 when it was rolled out in the 6th and 7th grades. This revolutionary program has now expanded to other grades, and will help Neshaminy educators create the next generation of scientific innovators and citizens who are skeptical, curious, and evidence-based thinkers. The program’s instructional strategy is designed to allow students to explore phenomena with the purpose of solving authentic problems. In addition, Amplify Science incorporates many of the Pennsylvania core standards in math and literacy as students solve problems and communicate findings.
This innovative program incorporates a great deal of reading and writing in the content area. Students are being taught how to think about what they have observed, read, and experienced and to speak and write about it in a way that provides insight into their scientific thinking. Specifically, students are asked to state their claim, report their evidence, and detail their reasoning. This is known as CER (Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning). A claim is a statement of what a student has come to know. It is supported by the evidence gathered from reading, observation, or an experiment. Reasoning ties together the claim and evidence to explain why the evidence supports the claim.