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Knowledge Building in Science & Life-Long Conceptual Understanding


Great Minds® embraces the research that knowledge-building should start at the outset of a student’s education. But what does that look like in science?

At its core, a knowledge-building science curriculum empowers students to explore rich, compelling phenomena through observation, questioning, modeling, investigation and evidence-based argumentation. Simply put, PhD Science™—based on the new science standards and created by our team of teacher-writers and experts—is designed to help students understand concepts through experiences before being introduced to the scientific terms. By engaging in the science, PhD Science™ students do more than repeat a definition. They leave rote memorization behind in favor of something much better: deep conceptual understanding.

With this approach, students drive the learning as they observe, question, investigate, and create models, and as new knowledge answers some questions while revealing others. For example, in our Energy Module, the “anchor phenomenon” is Windmills at Work, and students seek to answer the Essential Question: How do windmills change wind to light?

Along the way, they build enduring knowledge and understanding of energy as they are asked to reflect on artwork, share observations, consider investigative questions, and eventually construct a physical model. Teachers introduce terms such as energy transfer only after students have investigated and grasped the concept, helping to build lasting knowledge.

PhD Science™ accomplishes even more. Its intentional knowledge building increases equity in the classroom and supports student achievement and teacher practice. How does this work? And what tools can teachers use to facilitate learning with this type of curriculum? View our free webinar and expert panel discussion with Natalie Wexler, author of “The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America’s Broken Education System—and How to Fix It.”


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