standards. On the contrary, for students to experience science fully and to meet the goals of science education, a variety of curriculum patterns, structures, and emphases should be included in the activities, units, and courses that make up a total science program.
Regardless of organization, the science program should emphasize understanding natural phenomena and science-related social issues that students encounter in everyday life. Because inquiries into most natural phenomena and the process of resolving social issues that are science related involve understanding and ability from more than one content standard, science programs will contain activities, units, and courses that are designed to require knowledge and skill from more than one content standard. As an example, a unit on the quality of a river might emphasize the outcomes specified in the content standard on science as inquiry. At the same time, the unit might increase students' understanding of science in personal and social perspectives, life science, physical science, and earth and space science.
If teachers are to teach for understanding as described in the content standards, then coverage of great amounts of trivial, unconnected information must be eliminated from the curriculum. Integrated and thematic approaches to curriculum can be powerful; however they require skill and understanding in their design and implementation.
[See Teaching Standard A]
Effective science curriculum materials are developed by teams of experienced teachers, scientists, and science curriculum specialists using a systematic research and development process that involves repeated cycles of design, trial teaching with children, evaluation, and revision. Because this research and development process is labor intensive and requires considerable scientific, technical, and pedagogical expertise, teachers and school district personnel usually begin the design and development of a curriculum that meets local goals and frameworks with a careful examination of externally produced science materials. These materials are modified and adapted to meet the goals of the district and of teachers in that district, and to use the resources of the local community. However, care should be taken that in the adaptation of externally produced materials to local needs, the original intended purpose and design are not undermined.
Districtwide goals and expectations for student achievement, as well as the curriculum frameworks, serve to ensure coherence and articulation across grades, but they must not constrain the creativity and responsiveness of teachers in schools. While high-quality curriculum materials provide a critical base for teaching science, especially for new teachers and others new to teaching science as described in the Standards, teachers must have the flexibility to meet the science program goals in a variety of ways by adjusting and adapting curriculum materials to match their own and their students' strengths and interests.
The content standards are designed to be developmentally appropriate and to build understanding of basic ideas across the grade levels. In designing curricula, care should be taken to return to concepts in successive years so that students have the opportunity to increase and deepen their understanding and ability as they mature.