Why study Science?

Science is driven by curiosity about the world around us and drives the creation of new knowledge and solutions to human problems. Science emphasizes generating and interpreting evidence about observed phenomena and is both a body of knowledge and a way of knowing about the natural world. Science is a human endeavor linked to engineering and technology.   

A HIDOE K–12 science education should:

Core principles of Science

Two core principles of a science education in HIDOE schools are:

The 3D structure of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS, 2013) is based on the research outlined in the Framework for K–12 Science Education (2012).  The practices are how scientists and engineers “do” science and engineering.  Engaging in the practices helps students learn how scientific knowledge develops and provides motivation for science learning. The disciplinary core ideas are foundational knowledge key to investigating complex ideas over multiple grades with increasing sophistication.The core ideas include concepts in physical sciences, life sciences, earth and space sciences, and engineering.  The crosscutting concepts are big ideas that connect all disciplines of science and provide a framework for students to make sense of core ideas in science.

Equity and access are essential to science education.  Equity in science education requires rigorous learning goals for all students and honoring student voice.  Equitable high-quality opportunities (STEM Teaching Tools, 2018) must be extended to every student, with particular consideration for groups that have been historically disenfranchised from science education. 

Every student should see the connections of science to themselves, their communities, and a unique sense of place in Hawai‘i. The local environment provides a rich selection of phenomena that connect to Hawai‘i's culture and language, such as rain and wind names or the structure of ahupua‘a (traditional subdivision of land in Hawai‘i).  Kaiapuni (Hawaiian medium) standards are also being written to support science education in Hawaiian immersion schools. 

Next Generation Science Standards logo that shows how the standards work: Core Ideas, Practices, Crosscutting.
* This logo is a registered trademark of Achieve. Neither Achieve nor the lead states and partners that developed the Next Generation Science Standards were involved in the production of this product, and do not endorse it.

Where is Science headed?

Ongoing professional learning will be needed to provide high quality science experiences aligned to the Framework and NGSS for all students.  Students will develop explanations for phenomena or design solutions to engineering problems through classroom experiences that are designed by teachers to reflect the shifts below.  



Learning of ideas disconnected from questions about phenomena 

Systems thinking and modeling to explain phenomena and to give a context for the ideas to be learned 

Teachers providing information to the whole class 

Students conducting investigations, solving problems, and engaging in discussions with teacher guidance

Teachers posing questions with only one right answer 

Students discussing open-ended questions that focus on the strength of the evidence used to generate claims 

Students reading textbooks and answering questions at the end of each chapter 

Students reading multiple sources and developing summaries of information 


Student writing of journals, reports, posters, and media presentations that offer explanations and arguments

Oversimplification of activities for students who are perceived to be “less able” to do science and engineering

Provision of supports so that ALL students can engage in sophisticated science and engineering practices

To support NGSS-aligned teaching and learning, all schools should:

Maunakea Scholars are using the Canada-France-Hawai'i Telescope to answer their questions about the universe.
Maunakea Scholars are using the Canada-France-Hawai'i Telescope to answer their questions about the universe.
NGSS Grade Level progression graphic. Organization — Science engagement multiple times a week (grades K-5), disciplinary or integrated sequencing (grades 6-8), and students having three science credits to graduate (grades 9-12). Role: Lay critical foundation for science and tap into their natural curiosity (grades K-5), bridge in complexity from elementary to high school, and promoting and maintaining student interest in sciences (grades 6-8), and increasing the depth of understanding and practice while preparing students for college, career and community (grades 9-12). Integration: integrate science with other content areas so it's not crowded out of the curriculum (grades K-5), leverage grade level teams to connect content areas (particularly STEM disciplines)(grades 6-8), and use NGSS to integrate scientific disciplines and other content areas, even in disciplinary courses (grades 9-12).

Purposeful content integration can support science teaching and learning.  STEM disciplines are often integrated, but science and literacy also serve each other (Pearson, Moje, and Greenleaf, 2010). Combining science investigation with literacy instruction can increase motivation, build content knowledge and vocabulary, and support development of reading and writing skills (Duke and Block, 2012; Shiverdecker and Fries-Gaither, 2015), as well as support language development of English learners (Lee, Quinn, and Valdés, 2013; Jackson and Ash, 2011).

Science learning supports college, career, and community readiness and the development of the whole child.  NGSS-aligned science reflects the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Whole Child Tenets (ASCD, 2018), including “Each student in our school has access to challenging, comprehensive curriculum in all content areas.” Science provides a context for experiential, cooperative, and applied learning, which engages children and connects them to the school and community.

Teachers, administrators, complex area staff, and state staff all play a role in implementing the NGSS in a way that values the vision of the standards and provides students with equitable and engaging experiences in science. All children can learn science and all children can benefit from the rich experiences afforded by three-dimensional science teaching and learning.

Selected resources are highlighted. The HIDOE NGSS page, linked below, has an extensive list of resources for NGSS standards alignment, curriculum and instruction, assessment, professional development, cross-content connections, and communication. In addition, the HIDOE-developed documents referenced here have a number of embedded resources.

Science Resources

ASCD Whole Child. Retrieved from
National Research Council. (2012). A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
National Research Council. (2013). Next Generation Science Standards: For States, By States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
National Research Council. (2015). Guide to Implementing the Next Generation Science Standards. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
NGSS Curriculum Review Documents OCISS Guidance. Retrieved from
Practice Briefs on Topic: “Assessment”. Retrieved from
Practice Briefs on Topic: “Equity”. Retrieved from
State of Hawaii Board of Education General Board Meeting Minutes. (February 16, 2016). Retrieved from