Over the past 20 years, the nation has focused its attention on Mathematics and Reading. Why? Those are the tested subjects with high stakes and they exist at every grade level. In some states, science is also tested at a few grade levels. Sometimes it even counts in the state accountability system, but not always. The result? Science has lost its importance to us as a nation.
But, guess what? Science is back. Why? Now we call it STEM. For some reason, STEM seems to be something that the public and our schools believe is important for the nation and our economy. STEM is the place we are counting on for jobs for our graduates. Too bad we had to give up science — we could have had STEM graduates all along.
What is inspected, is expected. Maybe we should look a little harder at the testing backlash and rethink the content and real reasons behind standardized testing. It’s a much bigger conversation than ‘too much high stakes testing’ and giving up science just one small part of the problem that is a result of our misguided thinking.
Let’s look at what science classes were before our only inspections were based on reading and math tests and could be again…
SCIENCE classes were…
Project Based Learning (there were labs and science fairs)
Inquiry Based (there were questions to be explored)
Collaborative and Cooperative (we worked in pairs or teams during labs)
Performance Based (we wrote reports)
Non-fiction reading activities (we read science books and magazines and articles)
Higher order thinking (we developed a hypothesis and tested it)
Want more 21st century learning? Let’s bring back science, starting in the early grades, the way it was in the 60s. Think about this: the kids who had those science classes created all the STEM fields so important today.
Maybe it’s time to bring back science. It might be the most important letter in STEM.