The BSD Instructional Materials committee has decided to change the science curriculum for all elementary schools in the Bellevue School district. Through the fall and winter of the 2016-2017 school year, students have been piloting two curriculums, the Full Option Science System (FOSS) and Amplify Science. According to Cheri Bortleson, a K-5 STEM curriculum developer, “65 elementary teachers from across the district participated in our pilot of Amplify Science and NGSS FOSS.”
The district is changing the curriculum to match the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), new science standards that the State of Washington adopted in October 2013. According to the district website, “The standards represent a combination of science core ideas, science and engineering practices and cross cutting concepts.” This “three-dimensional learning” is meant to give students more skills-based training that they can more easily apply to any science discipline.
According to the FOSS website, FOSS features active learning, including outdoors experiences. It emphasizes kit-based learning and recording observations and results in notebooks to answer the main research question. A science resources book supplements the labs with informational articles. The website states, “The edition makes more explicit to teachers and students the connections to science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, disciplinary core ideas, and Common Core State Standards . . .”
Amplify Science is a more online science curriculum. According to the Amplify science website, Amplify has NGSS-based lessons, detailed digital stimulations, kits that add hands-on experience, helpful assessments, ways for teachers to adapt, and books designed for students to teach them about real, practical science in industry and research. It encourages students to think about topics in several ways, such as reading about it, talking about it, and building models, both physical and digital.
Both FOSS and Amplify incorporate more engineering and follow the NGSS more closely.
Students, parents, and staff can learn more about the new curriculum at the Bellevue Central Library, the Crossroads Connection Library, the Lake Hills Library, or the Newport Way Library. Additionally, the curriculum websites offer curriculum overviews.
The Instructional Materials committee plans to decide on a curriculum by the end of March 2017 and implement it by the beginning of the 2017-18 school year.
A survey is available at http://www.bsd405.org/2017/03/give-your-feedback-on-new-elementary-science-curriculum/ for anyone who has studied both the old and new curriculums.