December 20th, 2012
10:23 AM ET

The science class of the (not too distant) future

By John Martin, CNN

(CNN) - Years ago, maybe years upon years ago, you probably sat in a classroom and learned how chemicals combine to form new substances. You watched your teacher write on the board, drew a few pictures and completed a worksheet. Maybe you read the textbook at home and studied images of electrons being shared and transferred to form chemical bonds.

If you step into a high school chemistry class late next year, the students might be learning the same thing. But they could be manipulating foam or paper mache models to show how bonds are made, or moving electrons around on a computer screen, testing what happens when a transfer occurs.

Science classrooms in America will begin to change next year, when 26 states are expected to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards. How those students learn will often differ from the education their parents, or even their older siblings, had.

Twenty-six states helped develop new science standards.

Whatever they're doing, they won't just be reading science translated into kid-speak by adults. They'll be making models, solving problems and getting messy, the standards developers said. They're expecting the next generation to gain an understanding of science and engineering that makes them competitive on a global scale.

“The Next Generation Science Standards… could potentially have a profound change on how we teach science,” said Gerry Wheeler, executive director of the National Science Teacher Association. “Parents need to know it’s a different kind of classroom their child's going to see.”

So exactly what will change?


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Filed under: Science • STEM
December 20th, 2012
05:00 AM ET

Michigan cousins go after crayfish, hook a mastodon

By Kristina Sgueglia, CNN

(CNN) - An 11-year-old from Michigan said he was really going to wow his schoolmates with the "coolest" show-and-tell item anyone's ever brought to the sixth grade.

After all, it's not every day you get to show off a 13,000-year-old mastodon bone you and your cousin found in a stream behind your backyard.

"I thought it was a rock at first, but a couple minutes later I looked more at it, and I didn't think it was a dinosaur bone, but I wasn't sure," Eric Stamatin of Shelby Township Michigan told CNN on Thursday.

He and Andrew Gainariu, 11, from Troy, Michigan, were hunting for crayfish in the stream that extends from the middle branch of the Clinton River, as they often did, when they "got bored" and decided to build a dam.

They made an extraordinary discovery that June day.

John Zawiskie, a geologist and paleontologist at the Cranbrook Institute of Science confirmed in early November that what the "kids just being kids outside" discovered was not a rock at all, but an axis, a specialized second vertebrae behind the skull in the spinal column of an American mastodon.

"These animals have been extinct for 10,000 years," Zawiskie told CNN.

Read the full story

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Filed under: Hands-on learning • History • Science