repeated, varied opportunities to encounter and grapple with ideas,” Ready, Set, Science! asserts.3

What actually constitutes the content of the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind that students must acquire can be and is debated, but the general parameters can be briefly outlined. (As examples of science education by stage, Box F-1 presents four key “strands” in K-8 science education, illustrating one description of what students must acquire at that level, and Box F-2 presents a set of recommendations for undergraduate education in biology.)

In brief, the general parameters for STEM knowledge by broad field include:

  • Mathematics: Basic facts and algorithms; algebra, trigonometry, geometry; problem solving ability; and verbal skills.4

  • Engineering: Mathematical concepts, computational methods, science concepts, engineering design.5

  • Natural Sciences: Facts, concepts, principles, laws, theories, and models of science. Facts cover specific areas of natural science (e.g., time, light waves, nature of force/velocity/acceleration, and theory of evolution)6

  • Social and Behavioral Sciences: Sense of history and place; fundamentals of government and politics, economics, society, and human behavior.

Habits of mind, again by broad field, include:

  • Mathematics: Thinking conceptually, logical reasoning, experimental thinking, inquisitiveness and the willingness to investigate, and the ability to take risks and accept failure.7

  • Engineering: Systems thinking, creativity, optimism, collaboration, communication, and attention to ethical consideration.8

  • Natural Sciences: Understanding of how concepts fit together, ability to generate and interpret evidence to build and refine models and explanations, use of mathematical reasoning, and employment of critical reasoning skills.9

3

National Research Council. 2007. Ready, Set, Science! Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

4

The College Board. College Board Standards for College Success: Mathematics and Statistics. 2006.

5

National Academy of Engineering. 2009. Engineering in K-12 Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

6

The College Board. Science: College Board Standards for College Success 2009. New York, NY: The College Board.

7

College Board Standards for College Success: Mathematics and Statistics. ibid.

8

National Academy of Engineering, Engineering in K-12 Education, ibid.

9

National Research Council. 2007. Ready, Set, Science! Washington, DC: The National Academies Press and Science: College Board Standards, ibid.



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