Watershed Rolls Out NGSS Classes for Science Teachers

From figuring out how to reduce the amount of stormwater pouring off a home, to engineering a fix for erosion, The Watershed Institute has developed a toolkit of class materials that align with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Just in time for the start of the new school year, the Watershed’s newly minted programs let students become actual scientists who identify a problem, gather data and test out remedies collaboratively. The course materials, which were developed in partnership with the Hopewell Valley School District, assists science teachers as they prepare lessons that align with NGSS.

These courses were developed and piloted with students from area schools, giving a boost to teachers who face the time pressure of designing NGSS-aligned classes while teaching their existing, core material.

By embarking on scientific inquiry and discovery, the classes are designed so students work together on problems, such as flooding or dam removal to help migrating fish, and then create meaningful solutions together.  In other classes, students learn how to take water samples from streams and the effect of pollution on species with varying degrees of tolerance.

Students engage in the materials and ideas as the teachers facilitate the interactive learning.

“Students come here and they get to learn about the natural world just like scientists do,” said Greg Hunter, a teacher with the Hopewell Valley Regional School District, who worked as the Watershed’s teacher-in-residence during the 2017-2018 school year. “And teachers come here and they get to see a framework for how to design a NGSS lesson and bring that back into their classrooms.”

Christine Terranova, who teaches third-grade science at Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart, recently attended the Watershed’s science teacher academy this summer to learn strategies to incorporate NGSS in her classroom. One idea she developed was having her students assess the amount of stormwater runoff from the school’s roof, which ponds in an area near the school’s garden, and then asking them figure out a solution for better managing the runoff.

“The NGSS projects presented by Greg were extremely helpful and really got my wheels spinning,” Terranova said.

Lea Ryan, a kindergarten teacher at Lawrenceville Elementary School, said she experienced a “growth mindset” during the Watershed’s science teacher academy.

“I’m thankful for the confidence I gained in terms of understanding the water cycle, as well as participating as an active learner in NGSS,” she said. “I will take the engineering process and will apply it to my classroom with my students.”

For more information, including a video that fully explains the Watershed’s new programming, please explore https://thewatershed.org/school.

The Watershed Institute (formerly the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association) is dedicated to keeping Central New Jersey’s water clean, safe and healthy. Founded in 1949, The Watershed Institute protects and restores water and the environment through conservation, advocacy, science and education. For more information about the Watershed, www.thewatershed.orgor call (609) 737-3735. To book a program, please contact Tammy Love Program Administrator, at tlove@thewatershed.org or 609.737.3735 ext. 42. Interviews with Executive Director, Jim Waltman, are available upon request. Contact Pam Podger, Marketing Manager, at (609) 737-3735 x19 or ppodger@thewatershed.org

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