A new science curriculum will be introduced in the 2021-22 school year for NKSD high school students. (Ken Park/North Kitsap Herald)

NKSD adopts new science curriculum

The North Kitsap School District has adopted a new science curriculum that was developed in the Portland Metro School District.

For the last two years NKSD high school science teachers have been researching and testing several curriculums and have chosen the Patterns Curriculum from the Portland Metro STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) partnership in Oregon.

Patterns is an open educational resource (OER) that is updated regularly to meet state standards. The curriculum also uses Google products making it even more ideal as NKSD moves to Google classroom for in-school and remote learning in coming years.

“The cutting-edge work on science curricula materials and pedagogy in recent years has been coming out of universities and groups such as the Portland Metro STEM partnership, and we get the benefit of materials written by educators for educators,” NKSD Teacher On Special Assignment Philip Mackey-Moseley said.

“Adopting an OER means that we will always have the most up-to-date version and during the pandemic, when we were trialing these materials, the writers were able to adapt their materials to the online/hybrid classroom and push these adoptions out to all the schools using their curriculum.”

The curriculum is broken down into a three-year sequence in which high school freshmen take physics, sophomores take chemistry and juniors take biology. Each course injects a real world situation and challenge that engages the students in hands-on work and work within other subjects.

“This goes beyond the science content and includes the ideas behind how to do and think about science,” Moseley said.”These include the Science and Engineering Practices (e.g. Developing and Using Models) and the Crosscutting Concepts (e.g. Cause and Effect). These ideas are woven throughout the work in all three grade levels, thus allowing students to develop a deeper understanding of the material they are covering.”

The curriculum incorporates Phenomena-based learning, where students are presented with an overarching problem or question to answer. That requires them to not just learn about the science, but understand how it applies to the phenomenon and then use that learning to explain it.

Some of examples are: Freshmen learning about cause and effect by diving into the growing rates of accidents caused by texting and driving. Sophomores will study energy and how to make new forms of it; and seniors will study DNA to learn about how genetic diseases are spread and how to prevent them.

“The days of regurgitatory learning are long behind us, and science is no exception. Students in this curriculum are being taught to think about the science they are learning and how to apply it to a relevant situation,” Moseley said. “Creating engaging and relevant curricula units is one way to increase student engagement.”

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