[See Teaching Standard B, Assessment Standard D, Program Standard E, and System Standard E]
SCIENCE IS FOR ALL STUDENTS. This principle is one of equity and excellence. Science in our schools must be for all students: All students, regardless of age, sex, cultural or ethnic background, disabilities, aspirations, or interest and motivation in science, should have the opportunity to attain high levels of scientific literacy.
The Standards assume the inclusion of all students in challenging science learning opportunities and define levels of understanding and abilities that all should develop. They emphatically reject any situation in science education where some people—for example, members of certain populations—are discouraged from pursuing science and excluded from opportunities to learn science.
Excellence in science education embodies the ideal that all students can achieve understanding of science if they are given the opportunity. The content standards describe outcomes—what students should understand and be able to do, not the manner in which students will achieve those outcomes. Students will achieve understanding in different ways and at different depths as they answer questions about the natural world. And students will achieve the outcomes at different rates, some sooner than others. But all should have opportunities in the form of multiple experiences over several years to develop the understanding associated with the Standards.
[See Program Standard D and System Standard D]
The commitment to science for all students has implications for both program design and the education system. In particular, resources must be allocated to ensure that the Standards do not exacerbate the differences in opportunities to learn that currently exist between advantaged and disadvantaged students.
[See Teaching Standard B]
LEARNING SCIENCE IS AN ACTIVE PROCESS. Learning science is something students do, not something that is done to them. In learning science, students describe objects and events, ask questions, acquire knowledge, construct explanations of natural phenomena, test those explanations in many different ways, and communicate their ideas to others.
In the National Science Education Standards, the term "active process" implies physical and mental activity. Hands-on activities are not enough—students also must have "minds-on" experiences.
Learning science is something students do, not something that is done to them.
Science teaching must involve students in inquiry-oriented investigations in which they interact with their teachers and peers. Students establish connections between their current knowledge of science and the scientific knowledge found in many sources; they apply science content to new questions; they engage in problem solving, planning, decision making, and group discussions; and they experience assessments that are consistent with an active approach to learning.
Emphasizing active science learning means shifting emphasis away from teachers presenting information and covering science topics. The perceived need to include all the topics, vocabulary, and information in