“Science is facts; just as houses are made of stone, so is science made of facts; but a pile of stones is not a house, and a collection of facts is not necessarily science.” --Jules Henri Poincaré (1854-1912) French mathematician.
High expectations in education are essential for the U.S. to continue as a world leader in the 21st century. In order to be successful in postsecondary education, the workforce, and in life, students need a rigorous, age-appropriate set of standards that include finding and gathering information, critical thinking, and reasoning skills to evaluate information, and use information in social and cultural contexts. Students must learn to comprehend and process information, analyze and draw conclusions, and apply the results to everyday life.
A quality science education embodies 21st century skills and postsecondary and workforce readiness by teaching students critical skills and thought processes to meet the challenges of today’s world. Scientifically literate graduates will help to ensure Colorado’s economic vitality by encouraging the development of research and technology, managing and preserving our environmental treasures, and caring for the health and well-being of our citizens.
Science is both a body of knowledge that represents the current understanding of natural systems, and the process whereby that body of knowledge has been established and is continually extended, refined, and revised. Because science is both the knowledge of the natural world and the processes that have established this knowledge, science education must address both of these aspects.
At a time when pseudo-scientific ideas and outright fraud are becoming more common place, developing the skepticism and critical thinking skills of science gives students vital skills needed to make informed decisions about their health, the environment, and other scientific issues facing society. A major aspect of science is the continual interpretation of evidence. All scientific ideas constantly are being challenged by new evidence and are evolving to fit the new evidence. Students must understand the collaborative social processes that guide these changes so they can reason through and think critically about popular scientific information, and draw valid conclusions based on evidence, which often is limited. Imbedded in the cognitive process, students learn and apply the social and cultural skills expected of all citizens in school and in the workplace. For example, during class activities, laboratory exercises, and projects, students learn and practice self-discipline, collaboration, and working in groups.
The Colorado Academic Standards in science represent what all Colorado students should know and be able to do in science as a result of their preschool through twelfth-grade science education. Specific expectations are given for students who complete each grade from preschool through eighth grade and for high school. These standards outline the essential level of science content knowledge and the application of the skills needed by all Colorado citizens to participate productively in our increasingly global, information-driven society.