Coaches/Teachers: National Standards Information


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National Science Education Standards Information

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 the problem.
  • 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 earth's history.

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.
  • Winning 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 to:

  • Identify a problem that affects them and their community in a personally relevant way.
  • 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.
  • They have the ability to make meaningful contributions to the ongoing pursuit of science.
  • Teamwork is an essential element of the scientific process.