Exploratorium Snacks are adaptable to a wide range of curriculum and grade levels, and many are applicable to many different content areas depending on how you use them in your classroom. Due to the wide range of uses of Snacks, as well as variations in state and national standards and pacing guides, we chose not to identify how specific Snacks align with specific standards. Instead, we've chosen to provide you with some guidance about how to align Snacks with your current standards and more specifically the Framework for K–12 Science Education (National Research Council, 2012) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013).
The Framework for K–12 Science Education and NGSS require that students engage in practice-rich activities that support their use of the content to figure out and explain complex phenomena and make connections to principles that cut across the content areas (NRC, 2012; NGSS Lead States, 2013). The diagram below (click to enlarge) shows one way to organize particular tasks or activities to support students in exploring a complex phenomenon.
Snacks are ideal candidates for NGSS activities because they support teachers in bringing phenomena into the classroom to be explored by students. However, Snacks alone won't ensure that your students engage in the science practices successfully. It's important to include some source of uncertainty in the activity surrounding the Snacks, so that students need to authentically engage in the science practices (Manz, 2014: for more explanation of planning for uncertainty read this research brief). For example, if you use the Ocean Acidification in a Cup Snack, you might provide students with a variety of tools to explore pH or generate carbon dioxide so that different solutions or strategies emerge and students have to engage in explanation and argument to support which they chose to follow.
We've developed a planning tool to help you adapt Snacks into NGSS-aligned investigations. We recommend that you actively engage with the Snack as you do your planning. (Note: This tool is in active development. If you have questions or feedback, please contact Sara Heredia at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Download our NGSS planning tool.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under grant DRL-1503153. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF.