The Captain Planet Foundation proposes to systemically transform the way science is taught in the United States by creating an 'environmental and natural science pathway' through the proposed national standards. CPF will convene teams of exemplary educators to create a new K-12 science curriculum that reflects the science practices, cross-cutting concepts and core ideas of the new national science standards. SAGES (Science for All Generations through Environmental Stewardship) will be developed as follows: review, align and adapt existing exemplary lessons to meet the new standards; identify the gaps and create new instructional materials; develop formative assessments; craft guidelines for environmental stewardship projects that will culminate each unit; package lessons for ease of teacher use; provide professional development - including teacher training workshops and instructional videos about curriculum implementation; field test the lessons in Georgia schools; refine the curriculum through teacher feedback and student pre-/post-tests; post the lessons on the state web site for use by any interested school district; and offer the curriculum as a free resource to any state or district, for replication.
The Core Strategies will make this science curriculum unique, relevant and useful:
- Environment as a context for learning
- Mastery learning with multiple opportunities for student success
- Digital badges awarded to designate student mastery of concepts
- Constructivism: inquiry, curiosity, discovery, experiential learning
- Outdoor learning activities to clarify concepts, create affinity for nature
- Evidence-based reasoning and critical thinking skills
- Technology integration, bio-mimicry and engineering design challenges
- Environmental stewardship projects that empower youth to solve problems in the real world
- Comprehensiveness: creating three-deep lessons for every science standard at grades K - 12
Through SAGES, CPF seeks to bring success to struggling students, including girls who have been culturally discouraged from excelling in science, students born in poverty and educated in schools that have failed them, and disaffected youth. SAGES is also the key to keeping gifted and accelerated students challenged and engaged.
Summer 2013 - Fall 2014
Establish a National Advisory Committee and begin broader partnership and fundraising development. Convene educators (both in GA and across the U.S.) into review and writing teams in order to identify or create lessons that address core ideas in science at each grade level. Outcome will be an online matrix of reviewed and written lessons.
Fall 2014 - Fall 2015
Convene groups of educators to field test and review lessons in the classroom and conduct grade-level-specific professional development workshops to cover mastering learning, engineering design process, and elements of new Georgia Science Curriculum. Distribution of lesson kits to field testing schools.
Fall 2015 - Fall 2016
Perform statewide professional development workshops to install master trainers in all 16 Regional Education Service Administrations (RESAs) around the state of Georgia. Support professional development workshops all year long on mastering learning, engineering design process, and elements of new Georgia Science Curriculum.
Fall 2016 - 2017
Roll out new Georgia Science Curriculum statewide and begin promoting program to approximately 26 states that have opted in to Next Generation Science.
The United States ranks 23rd out of nations in science proficiency and only 28 percent of American adults are scientifically literate. Employers cannot find enough skilled workers and, in states such as Georgia, one third of all students drop out of high school. Traditional environmental education has not proven effective, often generating more despair or indifference than action.
In order to provide all students with promising pathway to STEM learning, science needs to be compelling, accessible, and engaging for students who may not have an interest in or aptitude for these fields of study, or who may not see the relevance of these subjects to their lives.
Research shows that the increasingly limited involvement of girls in STEM at each educational level is attributable, in part, to a lack of interest and exposure to science and engineering fields, as well as unconscious bias. Furthermore, the focus on engineering challenges and the use of technology does not resonate equally with all children. Captain Planet Foundation (CPF) contends that students, including girls and underserved minorities, who are initially intimidated by engineering, robotics, or purely technological approaches to science, may find the natural and biological sciences a more engaging and familiar context as an entry point for engaging in science.
The environment can serve as an effective context for learning all the natural (earth, biological and life) sciences. For the many students who struggle academically, outdoor learning provides a more accessible and relevant entry point to STEM. Field investigations and hands-on inquiry-style learning sparks curiosity, cultivates competency, and contributes to student success in all science fields. Similarly, nature-inspired design (biomimicry) and integration of technology such as citizen science apps, combined with the incentive of earning digital badges for academic successes, can provide reluctant students an entrée into the world of science and engineering.