- Associated Press - Friday, May 5, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A draft of Nebraska’s new science standards for public schools focuses on inquiry and thinking skills as much as scientific concepts.

The standards unveiled Thursday would apply to students from kindergarten through high school statewide. They call on students to think and act like scientists by gathering and analyzing data, and communicating their results.

State Department of Education official Sara Cooper said scientific concepts and inquiry skills are currently considered separate standards. Millard Public Schools educator Ellen Kramer said combining them would advance science education.

“We’re going from ‘knowing about’ to ‘figuring it out,’” Kramer said.

She said children will gather the information while teachers facilitate, instead of reciting facts. The purpose is to make the students “self-directed” learners rather than teachers handing them the knowledge.

About 50 Nebraska teachers, administrators and higher-education representatives began writing the new standards in October. The state Board of Education hopes to vote on a final draft by September.

The standards, which also address topics like the big-bang theory, climate change, evolution and genetically modified organisms, borrow from the Next Generation Science Standards. Those standards were developed by the National Research Council and, as of last year, had been adopted by 18 states and Washington, D.C.

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