Local supers: New science standards more hands-on

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Science course of study to include better understanding theory of evolution, climate change topics

Local superintendents say the newly passed science course of study will provide students a more hands-on learning experience.

The state of board of education on Thursday voted to update its decade-old science standards to require that students understand evolution and learn about climate change.

It also focuses on experiments and hands-on instruction, and even engineering.

Teachers will no longer rely solely on lectures and memorizing facts, and will now be required to allow students to use critical thinking and reasoning skills through observation and experiments to figure out things.

Covington County Schools Superintendent Shannon Driver said he thinks the more hands-on and more interactive course of study is something that will be beneficial to his system’s students.

“It’s kind of a goal to make it more interactive and hands on,” he said. “I noticed there is also a big push on scientific literacy in engineering. That’s a big component.”

Driver said it’s definitely a different approach to science than educators have been accustomed.

“They have been moving this way, and I think it is a positive step,” he said.

The standards were unanimously approved and will go into affect in 2016.

Opp City Schools Superintendent Michael Smithart said he was excited about the importance placed on hands-on and experimentation.

“Our students will finally have the opportunity to experience science and not just read about it,” he said. “I know there may be some conversation relative to some of the content, but our focus will be on teaching our students the critical thinking skills necessary to understand those topics.”

Smithart was referring to evolution and climate change.

The new standards don’t that students accept of believe in the ideas of evolution or that the climate is changing in the world.

According to the Associated Press, no one spoke against the new standards at the board meeting in August, but supporters say they are a step forward for Alabama.

Driver said he didn’t see much difference in the old versus new standard for evolution and climate change.

The current standard reads students “should understand the nature of evolutionary theories,” but the knowledge isn’t required.

The new standard says, “The theory of evolution has a role in explaining unity and diversity of life on earth. This theory is substantiated with much direct and indirect evidence. Therefore, this course of study requires our students to understand the principles of the theory of evolution from the perspective of established scientific knowledge. The committee recognizes and appreciates and appreciates the diverse views associated with the theory of evolution.”

Local school systems still have the freedom to select curriculum.