Next Generation Science Standards and WeatherSTEM: A Perfect Match

  • Apr 26, 2018

Next Generation Science Standards

Science has been central to our lives throughout time. Whether the goal was to survive, exist or thrive, scientific solutions can be found at the core of every human triumph. This is part of the reason why a high-quality science education is so critical. Today’s students will be tomorrow’s problem-solvers, which means they must develop an in-depth understanding of science content. They must also develop key skills to serve them in their educational and professional lives, such as:

  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Inquiry
  • Problem-solving
  • Flexibility


For those of you who may not know or just need a refresher, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are K-12 science content standards. States developed these standards to improve science education for all students. These standards provide local educators with the flexibility to design stimulating classroom learning experiences. The NGSS focus on research helps prepare students for college, careers, and citizenship.

The NGSS call for a three-dimensional approach to K-12 science instruction based on crosscutting concepts, science and engineering practices, and disciplinary core ideas. The vision of NGSS is that thoughtful and coordinated approaches to implementation will enable educators to inspire future generations of scientifically literate students.

Enhancing NGSS with WeatherSTEM

We here at Earth Networks find the goals and approach of the NGSS critically important to science education and ensuring today’s students are ready to face tomorrow’s scientific problems. We know that this is more than just outlining a vision on a piece of paper. It’s about engaging students who don’t have that natural knack for STEM subjects with hands-on, real-world learning situations.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with WeatherSTEM. WeatherSTEM is a weather-based science curriculum that provides teachers and students with lesson plans, hyperlocal weather data mining, and weather visualization. WeatherSTEM aligns perfectly with the NGSS. Here’s how:

Crosscutting Concepts

The first area is crosscutting concepts. Crosscutting Concepts help students explore connections across the four domains of science. These include Physical Science, Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Engineering Design. Weather is the perfect topic that combines these four concepts.

Meteorology directly falls into Earth and Space Science. However, the impacts of weather extend much farther than that. For example, the National Weather Service employs dozens of individuals with Physical Science backgrounds like geologists and physicists to study environmental phenomenon like tsunamis.

Weather events like hurricanes impact Life Science as well because they impact people and organisms. Another connection between the weather and Life Science is how rising temperatures are changing weather patterns and changing life for people and animals around the globe.

Finally, the weather is a key concept for Engineering Design because Engineering Design is a great way to come up with solutions to weather-related problems.

Science and Engineering Practices

The second area is science and engineering practices. Science and engineering practices describe what scientists do to investigate the natural world and what engineers do to design and build systems. This dimension of science learning better explores and extends upon what is meant by “inquiry” in science and the range of cognitive, social, and physical practices that it requires.Weather data can inspire students to inquire about their environments while the data mining tools from WeatherSTEM enables them to seek answers.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

The third and final dimension of the NGSS is Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs). DCIs are the key ideas in science that have broad importance within or across multiple sciences or engineering disciplines. These fall into the same four concepts mentioned in the crosscutting section: Physical Science, Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Engineering.

These core ideas help focus K-12 science curriculum, instruction, and assessments on the most important aspects of science. To be a DCI, an idea must have two of the following criteria and ideally all four:

  • Have broad importance across multiple sciences or engineering disciplines or be a key organizing concept of a single discipline
  • Provide a key tool for understanding or investigating more complex ideas and solving problems
  • Relate to the interests and life experiences of students or be connected to societal or personal concerns that require scientific or technological knowledge
  • Be teachable and learnable over multiple grades at increasing levels of depth and sophistication


After reading those four criteria, it’s clear that meteorology and the study of weather fits perfectly. The weather has a broad importance across multiple sciences like we discussed before. Weather data also provides a key tool for understanding more complex ideas and solving environmental problems. Weather also relates to the life experiences of students. Think about it: They look at the weather every day simply to know what to wear to school!

Finally, WeatherSTEM is teachable at all grade levels. Younger students can learn about clouds with arts and crafts or the cloud-in-a-bottle while older students can data mine and run experiments with weather data from their own school weather station. The possibilities of weather and education are endless!

Inspiring Tomorrow’s STEM Leaders with Weather

The weather is the perfect science topic to align with the Next Generation Science Standards. The perfect tool for teaching it in an interactive and engaging way is WeatherSTEM. You can learn more about WeatherSTEM and the exciting opportunities it presents educators and students by clicking the link below.

Learn more

If you do one thing this year as a science teacher, align your curriculum with the NGSS and help your students become tomorrow’s leaders.