Neshaminy is leading the way with Amplify Science

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.

Amplify Science lab at Maple Point Middle School.