‘Next Generation’ Science Standards Aim To Up Teaching Game

SACRAMENTO COUNTY (CBS13) – School teachers around Sacramento are stepping up their teaching game in science.

It’s part of a program funded by the state, called “Next Generation Science Standards.”

This week, teachers attended their second workshop at Sacramento State University — one of the objectives is to attract more students of color in biotech.

“I feel like this way I am really able to learn more and grow more,” said Monserath Mendoza.

Mendoza is only a Sophomore at Sheldon High School in Elk Grove.

She’s already on her way to becoming a scientist.

“No one tells you the answer here it’s kind of a free for all, you experiment and try and again,” said Mendoza.

That’s all thanks to the new “Next Generation Science Standards” — a program implemented in 2015 within the Elk Grove and Folsom-Cordova Unified school districts.

Students learn how to develop solutions instead of being spoon-fed information by their teachers.

“Every day we go in there and learn something new,” Mendoza added.

One of the objectives of the “NGSS” program is to entice more people of color into becoming scientists.

According to the National Science Foundation, Hispanic people made up three-percent of the biotech industry in the last ten years.

“Sometimes because of our ethnicity we are in a box, but knowing we can expand it makes me feel good,” said Mendoza.

Students like Mendoza aren’t the only ones with a new take on biotech — teachers are also being re-trained to use different methods to reach their students.

“I’ve become a better teacher from this program because I’m also having to do all this extra work too,” said Elizabeth Johnson.

Johnson teaches High School Physics and Astronomy at Cosumnes Oaks.

She says she’s thrilled to see how excited her students are to learn about science.

“It’s more about, students can construct; students can evaluate; students will design,” Johnson said.

According to Johnson and other local teachers, the “NGSS” program is a pipeline that could fuel the biotech industry in the Sacramento area.

“The more we have people who are innovators, people who are creating these projects, that’s where the money is gonna go and we need that especially in Sacramento.”

Only the second in her family to pursue a career in science, Mendoza’s goal is to attend UC Davis and eventually do research.

“My sister also wants to become a scientist because of me,” Mendoza said.

State funding to the “NGSS” program has been cut, now Elk Grove Unified is looking for another way to continue the program next year.

More from Angela Musallam
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