Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine & Coastal Sciences is committed to working with our partners in K-12 schools to ensure that every child gains a broad understanding of the importance of the ocean, especially its influences on the economy, climate, biodiversity, our food sources, and to the overall quality of our lives.
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) represent an historic opportunity to advance the goal of improving public understanding of the vital role the ocean plays in all our lives. This is a matter of great economic, social, and scientific importance to all Americans. Hundreds of scientists and educators nationwide have joined together in the Ocean Literacy Campaign to ensure that ocean concepts are part of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
In order to most effectively support school and district level implementation of the Standards, the NJDOE is working with a network of volunteers (including myself) to develop a “model” curriculum (1.0) beginning with unit-based student learning objectives and formative unit assessments. This “model” curriculum will serve as an exemplar for districts and schools as they work to design the curriculum that will best meet the needs of the students they serve.
Here are some key ocean ideas we hope to bring to the forefront of our work with NJDOE:
- There are aspects of life in the ocean and of ocean processes that are quite unique and unlike their counterparts on land and in the atmosphere.
- There often appears to be a default assumption that science exists exclusively in a terrestrial environment.
- In some cases, using ocean examples can simply provide a more full understanding of a complex concept; in other cases, the omission of ocean examples can lead to misconceptions or even factual incorrectness. For example, referring to “organisms” as “plants, animals, and microorganisms” might lead learners to ignore the important ecological role of macro-algae, or to think that algae are plants, or worse yet, to never know that algae exist.
- We are very pleased that finally (and rightfully) emphasis is being placed on understanding the causes and consequences of climate change. Rutgers is actively communicating the critical importance of the influence of the ocean on the climate, and vice-versa, the influence of the changing climate on the ocean.
– Janice McDonnell, SET Agent 4-H Youth Development