New National Science Standards and Astronomy: An Update on the National Scene
In the summer of 2009, the National Academy of Science (NAS) began the process of collecting input on the development of the next-generation of national science education standards and frameworks for K–12 schools. We were asked to provide input related to the science disciplines’ perspectives on core ideas around which the standards would be designed. This paper is an abbreviated summary of our work commissioned by the NAS, providing an interpretation of “core ideas” as those few notions
that have broad explanatory and predictive power, proposes a possible set of criteria for their identification, and suggests some implications to a standards development process. The broad notion of a core idea in science is proposed as one of a brief, yet cohesive, set of statements that taken together have deep explanatory and predictive power describing observed phenomena in the natural world. The characteristic of a core idea is that it helps learners make sense of considerable information and confusing claims. We propose
that there are only a few core ideas relevant to a scientifically literate citizenship, and they are highly intertwined with one another. Additionally, we propose that our collected observations of K–12 teachers and classrooms have implications for the EPO and Astronomy Education Research communities. EPO products need to be explicitly tied to and constrained by these core ideas, and they need to explicitly link content and cross-cutting ideas. Future astronomy education research should most likely turn its attention to small-medium scale studies that focus on cognitive mechanisms.