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Educators team up to show students how science relates to their everyday lives

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Posted at 4:37 PM, Mar 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-18 16:41:38-04

High school sophomore Jadyn Lewis is seeking answers to questions concerning her community, like how climate change impacts the food we eat and why COVID-19 affects some groups more than others.

“Especially with this pandemic, people are wanting to know what’s happening exactly and the details and science behind that,” she said.

Lewis and other students across the country are now learning how science impacts everyday life through a national educational effort led by the University of Colorado Boulder.

This innovative way of studying science focuses on students’ experiences and their challenges.

“That means for Black, Latinx and indigenous students who might encounter science as a white endeavor, we want to privilege and center the experiences and work of Black scientists for example,” said Bill Penuel, Ph.D., a professor of learning science at CU Boulder, who is leading this program with help from educators at some of the most prestigious universities in the United States.

Penuel says the goal is getting students interested in science by having them ask questions about the world around them.

“By the end, they’ve learned the science ideas that are in the traditional curriculum not instead of teaching and then trying to find an application, they’re learning it really through the application,” he said.

This deeper understanding of sciences does come with a $7 million price tag, but it’s free for all students, like Lewis.

“Putting in the effort and the time and the money and the resources in order to create a curriculum for students for diverse backgrounds is crucial,” she said.

Materials taught in this program meet the Next Generation Science Standards, which is a research-based vision for science learning being put in place in classrooms across the country and allows students to get answers to the questions impacting them the most.