“Currently what commonly happens is the teacher gives a lecture showing the students everything about mitosis. ‘Here’s what a cell looks like. Here’s what happens when a cell divides. Look at this image: You can see the cells are splitting in two. You can see the chromosomes are coiling. You can see chromosomes lining up.’ The teacher is telling the students. This is how we learned about mitosis, even in college.

“A teacher in a Next Gen-aligned unit might say: ‘OK, in life we need to make more of what we have. There are processes to make more cells. Where are the places in a plant that we know need to grow?’ That would lead to discussion. Eventually some student would say ‘the roots’ or ‘the tip of a branch.’ Then, using microscopes the students would make observations. Hopefully they would see some cells where the chromosomes are loosely connected, other cells where chromosomes are lined up in the middle, others where the chromosomes seem to be splitting apart, others where the cells start to be pinching off. You would run the discussion based on their observations.

That’s what scientists do. That’s how the body of knowledge in science is formed—people asking questions, conducting experiments, finding evidence and coming up with theories about how things actually work.”