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5 Reasons to Commit to Three-Dimensional Instruction

Five Reasons to Commit to Three-Dimensional Instruction

cartoon graphic of five different science classroom scenes

Students discover.

The thing that prompts students’ curiosity is phenomena—naturally occurring, observable learning opportunities that generate student interest and elicit questions. With your guidance, students identify driving (essential) questions and are actively involved in developing explanations (science) and designing solutions (engineering) to problems. In other words, as they make sense of phenomena, phenomena make more sense to them.

They do.

Three-dimensional learning experiences involve hands-on, minds-on practices—the same behaviors that scientists engage in as part of their daily work routines. You can facilitate collaboration and discovery by providing high-impact labs that enable students to develop explanations and support their claims with evidence and reasoning.


In the three-dimensional classroom, students actually do science instead of simply learning about science. This grabs their attention, leading them to deepen their understanding and meet performance expectations.

They connect.

Three-dimensional learning encourages connections. As students apply acquired skills, they connect information across disciplines., Instead of simply identifying a plant’s life cycle, for example, they can follow scientific and engineering practices to predict what will happen when an environmental factor is changed (crosscutting concept—energy and matter: flows, cycles, and conservation).


A variety of media in both print and digital forms can immerse students in the phenomena, enabling them to make connections with their own experiences and communities. Promoting collaboration leads them to make connections with one another. Each connection further cultivates sensemaking.

They thrive.

Three-dimensional instruction is based on solid educational research and developed by nationally recognized leaders in science, education, and industry. The NGSS and other new standards are based on A Framework for K–12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas, developed by the National Research Council to provide students with engaging opportunities to experience how science is actually done.


Plus, inquiry-based, hands-on science education is supported by findings from the Smithsonian Science Education Center’s LASER i3 study, which shows that it makes a significant difference in students’ educational success across the curriculum.

They enjoy.

We’ve all experienced it—the glazed looks, the disconnect that can sometimes occur during classroom lectures. What about your students: would they rather sit and listen or would they rather be actively involved in scientific and engineering practices while they apply core ideas and crosscutting concepts? Hands-on science is not only more engaging than traditional lectures, presentations, and memorization activities, it’s also more fun—for your students and you!



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*Next Generation Science Standards® 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, and do not endorse, these products.