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If teachers of mathematics use scientific examples and methods, understanding in both disciplines will be enhanced. For mathematics, coordination reinforces the perspective of investigation and experimentation that is emphasized in the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) standards. The mathematics that students should understand and use in the study of science as articulated in the NCTM mathematics standards are listed in Table 7.1.
Connecting the science and mathematics programs requires coordination at the school and district levels. Those who develop guiding frameworks must work together to ensure that the potential for connection is in place at the district level. At the school level, teachers of mathematics and science must develop and implement a coordinated program.
Program Standard D
The K-12 science program must give students access to appropriate and sufficient resources, including quality teachers, time, materials and equipment, adequate and safe space, and the community.
The most important resource is professional teachers.
Time is a major resource in a science program.
Conducting scientific inquiry requires that students have easy, equitable, and frequent opportunities to use a wide range of equipment, materials, supplies, and other resources for experimentation and direct investigation of phenomena.
Collaborative inquiry requires adequate and safe space.
Good science programs require access to the world beyond the classroom.
[See System Standard D]
Learning science requires active inquiry into the phenomena of the natural world. Such inquiry requires rich and varied resources in an adequate and safe environment. The specific criteria for a science learning environment will depend on many factors such as the needs of the students and the characteristics of the science program. A student with rich experience in a topic might need access to additional resources within or outside the school; a student with a different language background might need supporting materials in that language; a student with a physical disability might need specially designed equipment; and a student with little experience using computer technology might need a tutor or a tutorial program. District policy makers and those in charge of budget allocations must provide the resources, and then school-level administrators and teachers must make sure that, once allocated, the resources are well used.
THE MOST IMPORTANT RESOURCE IS PROFESSIONAL TEACHERS. Needless to say, students must have access to skilled, professional teachers. Teachers must be prepared to teach science to students with diverse strengths, needs, experiences, and approaches to learning. Teachers must know the content they will teach, understand the nature of learning, and use a range of teaching strategies for science. Hiring practices must ensure that teachers are prepared to teach science and should include successful teachers of science in the selection of their new colleagues.
Marking the culmination of a three-year, multiphase process, on April 10th, 2013, a 26-state consortium released the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a detailed description of the key scientific ideas and practices that all students should learn by the time they graduate from high school.