Implementing NGSS in Regards to Human Activities & Sustainability

Gale Vasquez, Othello High School

Implementing NGSS in Regards to Human Activities & Sustainability

I currently teach Earth Science at the high school level, which consists of mostly 10th graders and some 11th graders. The majority of the students at the afore mentioned grade levels are taking either Earth Science or Physical Science as part of their chosen pathway selected in order to meet the new science requirements as well as the graduation requirements.

At the high school where I teach, there are usually 6 to 8 sections of Earth Science being taught during any semester by one or two teachers depending on the number of class sections needed. Our overall student body consists of approximately 1,100 students with about a (~175-225) enrolled in the Earth Science classes. At the high school we are continually collaborating with the alternative high school in our district to increase the effectiveness, rigor and authentic engagement of our designed earth science lessons.

Currently, our Earth Science lessons are focusing on the impact of human activities as they relate to earth science in the following example areas: Weathering, Erosion and Deposition (ESS2-1), Changes in Earth's climate effects other earth systems via feedback loops and energy flow (ESS2-2 & 4), and the classes favorite inquiry lab is using stream tables to investigate the impact of water on erosion and deposition within the stream channel and how surface process are affected (ESS2-5). These are just a few examples of the lessons we've aligned to integrate into the Earth Science course since the implementation of the NGSS standards.

It seems that every year, the lessons and NGSS standards that are not yet fully implemented are slowly gaining ground while the lessons that are already in place are steadily evolving from their original format.
The perceived challenges I face now are how to successfully implement the NGSS standards ESS3-2 & 3 which state, "The students will need to demonstrate an understanding while evaluating competing design solutions for developing, managing and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios" and "Creating a computational simulation illustrating the relationships among management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations and biodiversity."

I have the students research and discuss fracking and how it impacts the local environment and natural resources where fracking is occurring, but I would like to develop a more aligned lesson following the ESS3-2 NGSS standard a little closer. As far as the ESS3-3 standard is concerned, I have no idea/clue to even know where to begin to develop a computational lesson that is aligned to the standard. Time is the real challenge during implementation of the NGSS standards whilst developing engaging and authentic curriculum for the students.

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