Next Generation Science Standards Aligned Open Simulations and Tools

Science graphic against school kids using laptop in classroom

For many, the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) means a required shift and different approach to teaching.
A shift from teaching science facts, vocabulary and figures to a more integrated, engineering, design focused and inquiry-based approach. Advocates argue that this is a needed shift, but also acknowledge that it ought to be coupled with training, resources and time for teachers to learn.
As Madden states, “To achieve this new vision for K-12 science education, teachers will need access to aligned resources and materials, sufficient time for prep work and collaboration, and quality professional development.” Many teachers may not have a science background or specific training, making it all the more important that there are resources and experiences that provide them the opportunity to learn.
This is especially important given the changes that NGSS brings. The deeper level of inquiry and concept understanding means teacher’s reading a guide and students just reading a science textbook won’t cut it. Real experience doing science and using simulations of what would happen during experiments is essential.
Unfortunately, that often equates to needing more money to provide educators with the training and resources required for this level of instruction. Districts with less funding or opportunity may be left with the choice to not implement the new standards. While many states, such as California, are allocating funds to provide teachers what they need, this isn’t the case for all. As a result, not every student will have access to teaching and learning that is aligned to NGSS.
Fortunately, there are some existing simulations and tools (many of which are Open Educational Resources and great for both students and educators) already out there. Therefore, regardless of where you teach and learn (given you have access to a device), NGSS resources that can be brought to your classroom and all students potentially have the opportunity to provide access to this type of teaching and learning.

NGSS Aligned Open Simulations and Tools

  • Next Generation Science Standard site: Resources, assessment tools, sample tasks and other ideas for implementing the standards.
  • OER Commons: Filter by Next Generation Science Standards to see interactives, simulations, lessons and sites that are aligned to both K-5 and 6-12 standards.
  • OpenEd NGSS: Curated Next Generation Science Standards formative assessments, homework examples, videos and lesson plans.
  • Concord Consortium: Filter by NGSS practice, cross-cutting concept or topic and access downloadable simulations that walk students through an aligned investigation.
  • PhET Interactive Simulations: Exemplary simulations that allow students to test, design, experiment and explore science concepts and ideas. NGSS alignment documents are available.
  • PowerMyLearning: A suite of digital playlists, activities and assessments that are aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards. This is an Open platform that both students and teachers can use.

Other resources that address NGSS that are worth checking out:

  • cK-12: Site with NGSS specific dashboard with searchable assessments, simulations, resources and flashcards for students (see feature).
  • Gizmos: Hundreds of online simulations with lesson materials, supporting research-based strategies to build deep conceptual understanding in math and science.
  • Mosa Mack: Mosa Mack Science is a library of NGSS-aligned, inquiry units containing three lessons:

→ The Solve: An animated science mystery and vocabulary manipulation

→ The Make: A hands-on lab

→ The Engineer: An engineering challenge that allows students to apply what they’ve learned to solve real world scenarios

  • New York Hall of Science: Noticing Tools: A creative platform for STEM learning. Noticing Tools are iPad apps that make learning math and science feel connected through play, creative design projects and collaboration.

The push for more resources that address these standards is continuing to grow, as forthcoming are more sims catered towards this need. For example, Kelly Ryoo at the University of North Carolina is developing science visualizations to support the learning of ELLs.
If you know of other NGSS resources that aren’t on this list, please share them with us in the comments.
For more, see:

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Emily Liebtag

Emily Liebtag, Ed.D., is Education Reimagined's Senior Partner for Systems Transformation. Formerly, Emily served as the Vice President of Advocacy at Getting Smart.

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