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Using Wisconsin Fast Plants® to Teach DCIs in the NGSS

Using Wisconsin Fast Plants® to Teach DCIs in the NGSS header graphic

Using Wisconsin Fast Plants® to Teach DCIs in the NGSS

Disciplinary core ideas (DCIs) are perhaps the most familiar aspect of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The list of topics is not radically different from the material covered in science classrooms in the last 20 to 30 years. However, the DCIs are more than a list of facts to be shared, assessed, and then checked off a list. They are explicitly designed to:

  1. Serve as conceptual tools
  2. Be used to explain a variety of phenomena
  3. Develop across time.

The third feature—the way in which these large topics can be built upon year after year, as students progress through their education—is particularly apparent when focusing on a narrow range of topics.

Life science standards relating to plant science

In this series of articles, we’ll examine the scaffolding of life science standards relating to plant science using Wisconsin Fast Plants® as a model organism.

The Fast Plants® life cycle is so quick that in just 14 days after planting seeds, students experience firsthand how plants reproduce by watching their own plant develop buds that open into bright yellow flowers. Kindergarten through high school students (and college students, too) smile and learn about pollination when they “fly” their bee sticks from plant to plant to pollinate them. They can see the pollen on their bees and watch seeds develop inside the elongating pistils of their plant’s flowers.

Students can experience firsthand these key concepts in life science: plant germination, growth and development, flowering and reproduction, and seed development. No amount of reading on life cycles, videos, or simulations can come close to the experience of learning these concepts by growing plants in the classroom.

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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.