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State seeks public feedback on revisions to science curriculum in schools

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Posted at 9:51 PM, Apr 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-17 23:51:09-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- For the next three month, Utah teachers, students and parents will have a chance to give their input on what they would like to see taught in science classes in the state.

The State Board of Education decided to update the curriculum to be more connected with today's culture when it comes to technology.

Physics teacher Matt Smith takes hands-on learning to a whole new level at the Salt Lake Center for Science Education.

“Students like to do science more than they like to be told about science,” he said.

It’s this type of strategy that has fueled the state’s decision to update science standards for sixth, seventh and eighth-grade students, which is something that hasn’t been done since the mid ‘90s.

“We’re changing from a standards-based: where it’s know this, remember this, memorize that and recall this on a test, [and moving] to: Use this information to apply, to create, to evaluate,” said Ricky Scott, a State Science Specialist.

The two specific areas of study being overhauled are engineering and technology.

“IPhones, things like that, the technology kids are carrying around, everyone is carrying around, all of that has dramatically changed in the last 10 years,” Scott said.

Leif Schaffer is an eleventh-grade student who enjoys learning about science.

“I think if we can learn how these things work in class, I think it’s super cool and I like learning about it, so if we can do it in class that would be awesome,” Schaffer said.

State officials said this new curriculum is basically building off something students already know and love. Doctor Niki Hack, Salt Lake Center for Science Education, spoke about the love of technology and how that applies to learning about science in school.

“I think their enthusiasm for technology is something that I think is a great avenue for teachers to encourage students to be excited about science,” Hack said.

Smith said learning simple concepts leads to a greater understanding of the world.

“These simple circuits that my students are building and learning about right now, that's like a first baby step to understanding the digital world that's all around us,” he said.

There’s a list of ideas on the Utah Office of Education website when it comes to updating the science standards and how they're taught, and Utahns are encouraged to offer feedback. The public comment period recently began and continues for about three months. After the feedback period, the new curriculum will be created.

Click here to leave your feedback.