Science & Technology Curriculum Framework
Owning The Questions
For many districts, realizing the vision of science and technology presented in this framework will take time, resources, collaborative planning and commitment. The numerous issues involved in systemic science and technology reform are addressed in Chapter 4 of common chapters, but some issues of particular relevance to science and technology education, including the need for appropriate facilities and materials, attention to safe practices, curriculum coordination and legal responsibilities are presented here.
Facilities and Materials
Districts should work toward ensuring that students have the facilities and materials needed for undertaking scientific and technological investigations in elementary, middle, and high schools. The facilities should include sinks, outlets, storage space for equipment and supplies, tables or other large surfaces where students can work, and ample areas where students can keep their projects for continued use over a number of classes. It is essential that students have appropriate quantities of materials and equipment in order to do hands-on, inquiry-based science and technology.
Safe Practices in working with tools, materials and living organisms
Safety is a critical issue and an integral part of the teaching and learning of science and technology at all levels. It is the responsibility of each district to provide safety information and training. Fire extinguishers, safety glasses, eyewash stations, safety showers, utilities shutoff, appropriate waste containers, and first-aid kits should be readily accessible. Proper use of and care for tools is a crucial part of science and technology learning.
Biology teachers consider dissection to be an important educational tool as it provides students with real organisms. But dissection should be used with care. Teachers should recognize when animal dissection is considered that there are other experiences, i.e. computer programs, for students who do not choose to participate in actual dissections.
Further, as described in Massachusetts G.L. Chapter 272, 80G, dissection should be confined to the classroom.
"Dissection of dead animals or any portions thereof in . . . schools shall be confined to the classroom and to the presence of pupils engaged in the study to be promoted thereby and shall in no case be for the purpose of exhibition."
It is important that a district's science and technology program be viewed as a whole so that the scope and sequence of the program from PreK through twelve is coherent. The district coordinator should be involved in articulating and coordinating district-wide (PreK-12) science and technology programming. In addition, science and technology coordinators for the elementary grades could help to ensure that teachers in elementary schools are supported in their efforts to help students learn science and technology.
Administrators and teachers should know the Massachusetts laws which are relevant to science and technology education. These include regulations regarding safety, use and care of animals, storage of chemicals and disposal of hazardous waste.