With NGSS implementation a top priority for San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), BEETLES worked alongside the SFUSD Environmental Science Center team to design four field experiences: an Adaptations themed hike for 4th graders, an Ecosystems themed hike for 5th graders, a beach exploration for both 4th and 5th, and a night hike for both 4th and 5th. These were designed to support the vision of the Framework for K-12 Science Education and NGSS, while taking full advantage of the resources of the site’s natural setting. The Environmental Science Center provides free day and overnight programs to SFUSD teachers, students, and families to help them understand human impact on local ecosystems and to empower them to become responsible stewards of our environment. The Center’s focus on creating science-based outdoor experiences made them a natural fit as a BEETLES partner.
Our collaboration started with an informal needs assessment to identify areas of strength and the components that could be leveraged to better support NGSS. After a series of observations and meetings, BEETLES staff created curriculum for four new site-specific programs, one focused on Ecosystems, another on Adaptations, one a beach exploration, and a also a Night Hike. The programs were tested by BEETLES staff with students, and revised with input from Environmental Science Center staff. Finally, BEETLES staff observed and coached while Center staff first used the new materials, culminating in some final tweaks. These materials are now in continuous and permanent use at the Environmental Science Center.