Lipman Middle School teaches the next generation of scientists

By: Lillian Markind, President, Brisbane Elementary School District Board Trustee, lmarkind@brisbanesd.org

Lipman Middle School teaches the next generation of scientists

By: Lillian Markind, President, Brisbane Elementary School District Board Trustee, lmarkind@brisbanesd.org

Lipman students are entering a new era as our middle school rolls out the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Years in the making, this exciting new way to teach scientific concepts integrates ideas from physics, biology, and chemistry throughout the year at every grade level.
Prior to NGSS, topics were taught in a discrete, relatively unrelated way. In the sixth grade, students spent the year learning Earth Science. The seventh grade focused on Life Science and students in the eighth grade studied Physical Science. This method of segregating subjects allowed for very little overlap of scientific phenomena. NGSS provides a modern, integrated approach. Students in the sixth grade now study systems, patterns, structure, and function as it relates to energy, cells and organisms, and climate. Seventh grade concentrates on energy and matter, as well as cause and effect in the areas of chemistry, natural resources, and earth history. In the eighth grade, students focus their year on stability and change as well as scale as it relates to physics, evolution, and astronomy.
Each year, students have concepts of engineering and human impact weaved into their curriculum as well as a strong environmental focus to engage students with real-world situations and hopefully inspire an increased commitment to science education. They will also learn to analyze data to make evidence-based claims. ‘Concepts are taught based on current environmental issues and include a call to action where students are asked to engineer a solution to a problem.’ says Holly Rios, sixth-grade science teacher.
Lipman teachers are using the Green Ninja curriculum, developed at San Jose State University. This engaging learning environment provides many opportunities for students to study relatable problems and promotes social and environmental justice themes. It uses ‘storylines’ to include: scientific principles and communication, investigative methods and conservation, and computational thinking and design solutions.
Lipman science teachers are excited by the innovative, integrated curriculum and its benefits are already showing in our students.