Open-Source Science Materials Aligned to College & Career Standards
In 2017 philanthropists, state leaders, and curriculum writers formed OpenSciEd to get materials to teachers implementing the Next Generation Science Standards, which emphasize hands-on projects and integrate several scientific disciplines. This past summer, OpenSciEd released its first set of materials, in the form of freely downloadable PDFs and GoogleDocs, for grades 6, 7, and 8. The release includes the first of six instructional units for these grade levels. Each unit includes videos, slide decks, student handouts, and assessments, as well as instructions for hands-on activities. The first set of units covers thermal energy (grade 6), metabolic reactions (grade 7), and sound waves (grade 8). A key feature of OpenSciEd’s instructional model is that students’ questions about scientific phenomena guide the lesson and activities. The plan is to release more units every six months until a three-year middle school curriculum is available by the winter of 2022. The consortium working on OpenSciEd includes developers from BSCS Science Learning, a nonprofit organization that creates curriculum materials and conducts research; Boston College; Northwestern University; TheUniversity of Texas at Austin; and Digital Promise, a nonprofit organization authorized by Congress to promote innovation in education.
The Curiosity Cube is a traveling cargo container fitted with labs, virtual-realitytechnology, and other resources to give students a hands-on experience when learning about science. The concept of The Curiosity Cube is based on TheCuriosity Labsprogram, developed by the biotech company Millipore Sigma, in which employees go into classrooms and conduct hands-on experiments with students.
Crazy Gears from Edoki Academy gets children to think critically and explore physics and other STEM topics. This puzzle-like app for iOS asks students to construct gears to find a way to “pull themselves to the next level.”
The Body VR lets users experience the wonders of the human body and its billions of living cells. Users travel through the bloodstream and learn everything there is to know about how blood cells work to spread oxygen through the human body. They also learn how the body reacts when it is faced with deadly viruses.