National Science Education Standards
Meeting the Standards
In today's education environment, meeting the National
Science Education Standards has become a consuming task for even the most
ambitious science teacher. Many educators simply don't have time in their
hectic schedules for "extra activities" — pursuits that do not directly
address the Standards. If you are one of these educators, but would like
to give the Christopher Columbus Awards a try, we have some very good news
for you: the competition is a fun and enriching way
to meet the eight content standards established for middle-school science. Here's how:
STANDARD: Unifying Concepts and Processes in Science
Participation in the competition requires students to put the scientific
process into practice. They are expected to provide:
- A thorough, well-organized
explanation of a problem and their proposed solution.
- Measurable evidence
that their hypothesis has been tested.
- A model of how their solution would
work in the community.
These activities alone — the core of all scientific
research — make the Christopher Columbus Awards an exceptional opportunity
for active, hands-on learning.
STANDARD: Science as Inquiry
Each Christopher Columbus Awards student entry represents the culmination
of a very real scientific inquiry. Students will:
- Investigate an actual
problem that affects their community.
- Make a prediction about how to solve
- Use specific tools and scientific techniques to gather and
analyze related data.
- Apply critical thinking skills to interpret and
explain how the data support their hypothesis.
STANDARDS: Physical Science / Life Science / Earth and Space Science
Depending on the problem your students choose to tackle, they might cover
any one (or several) of these three content areas. For example:
- A project
that aims to find cleaner sources of power for the community may touch
on motions and forces and/or transfer of energy.
- If your students want to
control the local deer population, they may address populations and ecosystems,
diversity and adaptations of organisms, and/or reproduction and heredity.
- A project that deals with a community's response to catastrophic
natural phenomena might refer to the structure of the earth system and/or
STANDARD: Science and Technology
The practical use of technology is an integral component of every successful
Christopher Columbus Awards entry.
- Once they've selected a problem in
their community, students develop a solution using technological tools
available to them.
- In their competition entry, they must effectively communicate
how their solution employs existing or newly developed technologies.
teams then have the opportunity to implement their proposed designs.
STANDARD: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
No textbook can place science in a personal and social context quite the
way the Christopher Columbus Awards do. The competition challenges students
- Identify a problem that affects them and their community in a personally
- Work as a team for the common good.
- Apply what they've learned about science and technology to improve
some part of the world around them.
Teams focusing on health or environmental
issues will gain an especially clear understanding of the impact of science
and technology on society and our everyday lives.
STANDARD: History and Nature of Science
Through the Christopher Columbus Awards, students learn that:
- Science is a human endeavor that requires inquisitiveness, creativity
and an open mind, in addition to careful research and documentation.
have the ability to make meaningful contributions to the ongoing pursuit
- Teamwork is an essential element of the scientific process.
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