Helping New Mexico be STEM Ready!

By Rachel Szczytko


In July of 2018, New Mexico officially implemented a whole new set of science standards. The NM STEM Ready! Standards turn old science teaching upside down. The Standards, which are made up of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) with an additional six New Mexico-specific standards, focus on “3D-Learning.”


The Next Generation Science Standards promote 3D learning where teachers combine science practices, core ideas, and crosscutting concepts in each lesson.

No, our students are not going to be wearing 3D-vision glasses in every science class. Rather, teachers will focus on more than science content in their lessons. Teachers will educate three-dimensionally.  In the STEM Ready! Standards, three things are taught equally:


(1) Core ideas in science – the content, facts, and theories;

(2) Science and engineering practices – things that scientists actually do every day, like developing and using models; and

(3) Cross-cutting concepts – big ideas in science, think energy and matter or cause and effect.


Besides learning in 3D, students will tackle science topics through a phenomenon – something that relates to their life or sparks an interest in them.  Students are encouraged to ask questions, develop ideas, and seek solutions to these phenomena.


Although this change is great for our students (it is backed by decades of research on how students best learn science), it can be a tough change for teachers.


3D Learning is unlike previous science curriculum – that means teachers need to be trained in the new standards. They need to learn new content. They also could have to completely redevelop lessons and materials they have been utilizing for years.


And that takes time.


Unfortunately, our teachers only have a few months to do so – in addition to all of their other preparations.


Teachers work through a station of a NGSS-aligned Asombro lesson on White Sands Lizards during a teacher workshop in July 2018.

The Asombro Institute for Science Education is well-positioned to help our hard-working teachers get a handle on the new standards. Asombro has been teaching lessons that emphasize inquiry-based science learning for many years; these methods are similar to the ones called for in the Standards.


Asombro staff members have been learning about the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) since the final version was released in 2013. Asombro also is dedicated solely to science-education, so we can focus on understanding the standards in-depth and using them in a dynamic way. Asombro is poised to help bring quality NGSS lessons to students and help teachers feel more comfortable with the new standards.


One way we are doing this is through teacher workshops. This summer, Asombro hosted a NM Stem Ready! Workshop for teachers from all-over New Mexico. Teachers from 10 different schools and five different districts attended. Our participants commented that they felt much more confident in making their own lessons align with NGSS after the workshop, although they wish they had more time to prepare (a feeling we definitely share).


We love doing teacher outreach at Asombro. And, we really love getting to teach our NGSS-aligned lessons in classrooms. This time of year, we want to help get Asombro into as many schools as possible across the state. Our Science Sponsors campaign lets anyone sponsor a classroom of students to get a free, NGSS-aligned, science-lesson. Be a donor today, and help us help teachers and students get STEM Ready!


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Rachel is the newest Science Education Specialist at Asombro. She is passionate about the Next Generation Science Standards and preparing teachers and students alike to learn 3-Dimensionally.