New guidelines in science education may make big changes in the way science is taught in schools. Two of the biggest changes? The principles of climate change will be taught as early as middle school. And kids will also be required to learn about evolution.

The guidelines, known as the Next Generation Science Standards, were developed recently by a consortium of 26 state governments and several groups representing scientists and teachers. They are the first national recommendations for core science standards since 1996. States do not have to adopt them, but 26 have so far, including Arizona, Arkansas, California, Iowa, Kansas and New York.

Similar to the common core standards in English and math, the Next Generation Science Standards would standardize science teaching across the states. The developers are also hopeful that the new guidelines will help combat what they see as widespread scientific ignorance and increase the number of high school graduates who head into STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers.

The standards include hundreds of new ideas on how to effectively teach science, looking at the subject in a more holistic manner rather than breaking it down into isolated classes that rarely interact with one another such as biology, chemistry, algebra, etc. In many states, scientific instruction doesn't really get going until high school, which is too late when you're trying to interest kids in STEM careers. The guidelines call for increasing science education as early as middle school, with a focus on climate change among other topics. In high school, students would delve into the details about the human role in creating climate change.

At this point, states can decide whether to adopt the new standards. In addition to the states listed above, the the other states that have committed are Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

Source: The New York Times

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