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Everyone Can Be An Engineer: 5th Grade Teacher Puts Next-Gen Science Standards to Work

How often did you encounter engineering lessons in your school years?

The answer for most of us is “never.” Students that happened to do well at math and science might select engineering as a field of study upon entering college, but most of us never really considered it.

Thanks to Next Generation Science Standards, that’s changing. Here’s why that’s a big deal.

A New Challenge for Curious Kids

Washington STEM’s February Teacher of the Month, 5th-grade teacher Marcia Ventura, has worked with Seattle Public Schools, Washington STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and Washington MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) to explore how Next Generation Science Standards can be applied in the classroom.

The standards are the first to introduce engineering for kids grades K-12, and Ventura is proud of the way that Washington state has forged ahead and started adopting the new standards as soon as they were ready. She believes that the new approach capitalizes on children’s natural tendency to build, explore and experiment.

“Kids are natural builders, they’re natural fixers,” Ventura observes. “I know with my own son – he’s four years old – he’s always building, he’s always improving on his own designs. I see that with kids when they come in, no matter what their experience is outside the classroom.”

The Potential Before Us

For Ventura, these changes signal a future where a more diverse group of people are empowered to define and solve society’s problems.

“If kids see themselves as engineers just like they see themselves as mathematicians, as readers, as scientists, as writers…I think that’s going to mean everything, really.” Ventura notes that the problems we see and choose to solve are determined by subjective experiences. By opening up the definition of problems to “everyone as a possibility, that’s really going to change our world.”

CenturyLink is a global communications hosting, cloud and IT services company committed to strengthening and improving the communities it serves. CenturyLink focuses its philanthropic and volunteer efforts on K-12 education programs that support technology-focused initiatives. Learn more about CenturyLink.

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