Well, the final version of the National Science Education Standards has finally arrived. If you are involved in curriculum planning for your school or district, or if you want to study the document in detail, you can buy a copy for $19.95 + 4.00 shipping from the National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW, Lockbox 285, Washington DC 20055 [1-800-624-6242]. If you are more peripherally involved, you may wish just to peruse the standards online. My own feeling is that these standards will impact the syllabi of chemistry and physics courses less than they will the curriculum that precedes these typically junior-senior level science electives. This is because the standards are intended to teach science to all students, the majority of whom are not currently enrolling in college preparatory courses like chemistry and physics. However, a majority of "chemistry" teachers also teach other science classes, and the standards are likely to affect them, and should improve and broaden the preparation of students who eventually do enroll in chemistry. Chemical topics are required by the standards in many of those non-"chemistry" courses, and many chemistry teachers will be involved in helping their colleagues to develop units that center on chemical topics. The preface for the volume is a wonderful quotation from the late Nobel Laureate, Richard Feynman: "The world looks so different after learning science. For example, trees are made of air, primarily. When they are burned, they go back to air, and in the flaming heat is released the flaming heat of the sun which was bound in to convert the air into tree. [A]nd in the ash is the small remnant of the part which did not come from air, that came from the solid earth, instead. These are beautiful things, and the content of science is wonderfully full of them. They are very inspiring, and they can be used to inspire others."
National Academy of Sciences