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NSTA Position on The Integration of Labs into the Science Program

Inquiry-based laboratory investigations at every level should be at the core of the science program and should be woven into every lesson and concept strand. As students move through the grades, the level of complexity of laboratory investigations should increase. In addition, NSTA recommends that teachers and administrators follow these guidelines for each grade level:

Preschool and Elementary Level

  • With the expectation of science instruction every day, all students at the preschool and elementary level should receive multiple opportunities every week to explore science labs that fit the definition described in the Introduction.
  • Laboratory investigations should provide all students with continuous opportunities to explore familiar phenomena and materials. At developmentally appropriate levels, they should investigate appropriate questions, analyze the results of laboratory investigations, debate what the evidence means, construct an understanding of science concepts, and apply these concepts to the world around them.

Middle and High School Levels

  • With the expectation of science instruction every day, all middle level students should have multiple opportunities every week to explore science labs as defined in the Introduction. At the high school level, all students should be in the science lab or field, collecting data every week while exploring science labs.
  • Laboratory investigations in the middle and high school classroom should help all students develop a growing understanding of the complexity and ambiguity of empirical work, as well as the skills to calibrate and troubleshoot equipment used to make observations. Learners should understand measurement error; and have the skills to aggregate, interpret, and present the resulting data (NRC 2006, p. 77).
  • As students progress through middle and high school, they should improve their ability to collaborate effectively with others in carrying out complex tasks, share the work of the task, assume different roles at different times, and contribute and respond to ideas.


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