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Panel Calls for Sweeping Changes in US Science Education

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Next Generation Science Standards call for introducing lessons on climate science to young teens in middle school, and ensuring that all students learn about evolution

A distinguished team of scientists and educators says the United States must significantly change the way American students learn science or the country will soon be unable to compete or lead in the global economy.

The group spelled out what those changes should be in a new set of national guidelines, officially released Tuesday.

Those so-called Next Generation Science Standards call for introducing lessons on climate science to young teens in middle school, and ensuring that all students learn about evolution, among hundreds of recommendations. They emphasize hands-on learning and critical thinking, rather than memorizing facts.

Each state will decide whether to adopt the guidelines for its schools. More than half of the states had educators involved in their development, and have committed to giving serious consideration to incorporating them into their curricula.

The guidelines drew a hostile response from groups critical of mainstream scientific thinking on topics such as climate change and evolution, but the scientific community has welcomed them.

Sarah Shanley Hope, with a group called the Alliance for Climate Education, said "This is a big step forward for giving students access to the science most relevant to them today and for our shared future.”

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