The California Science Test (CAST) is an online assessment based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The CAST is administered to California students in grades five and eight, and once to each student while they are in high school.
The CAST focuses on the three dimensions of NGSS: Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts. It also includes a Depth of Knowledge (DOK) component, which considers the students’ cognitive process in response to a test item.
What are Gizmos
California science standards and the CAST focus on conceptual understanding, and so do
ExploreLearning Gizmos—award-winning, interactive simulations that bring research-proven instructional strategies to life. With Gizmos, teachers supplement and enhance instruction with powerful interactive visualizations of concepts covered in the CAST and NGSS. Gizmos help teachers and students move beyond multiple-choice questions to more fully assess student thinking and understanding. A perfect fit for performance standards and computer-based science assessments, over 400 math and science Gizmos help prepare students to meet new learning expectations. And to prepare for—and succeed on—the CAST.
How Gizmos support CAST1. Gizmos are aligned to the NGSS.
Gizmos are aligned to the NGSSand offer hundreds of simulations to help students develop a deep understanding of Next Generation Science Standards core ideas. Gizmos also beautifully illustrate how concepts cut across different scientific disciplines.
For instance, the Forest Ecosystem Gizmo asks students to manipulate the populations of four living things (trees, deer, bears, and mushrooms) in a forest. Students explore concepts of energy, causation, stability and change as they investigate the food web.
Fan Cart Physics Gizmo allows students to explore Newton’s Laws of Motion. Guided by student exploration guides, students use models, conduct investigations, and design solutions.
These Gizmos relate to the Engineering, Technology and Applications of Science disciplinary core idea; and addresses various crosscutting concepts of cause and effect, energy and matter, patterns, stability and change; and the science and engineering practices of analyzing data, and construction explanations and designing solutions, and more.
2. Simulations like Gizmos can help students develop the depth of knowledge that leads to conceptual understanding of science subjects.
From the book Technology in the Secondary Science Classroom, edited by Randy L. Bell, Julie Gess-Newsome, and Julie Luft:
“Computer simulations have demonstrated the potential to facilitate this process by highlighting students’ misconceptions and presenting plausible scientific conceptions… By exposing complex concepts and abstract phenomena, computer simulations offer the opportunity to engage students in higher-level thinking and challenge them to struggle with new ideas. Lessons involving computer simulations should remain student-centered and inquiry-based to ensure that learning is focused on meaningful understandings, not rote memorization.”
3. Gizmos give students experience in online assessments.
Computer-based assessments moved beyond traditional multiple-choice questions to more interactive testing. Most states test student knowledge with computer-based assessments in science, math, and other content areas. These assessments require students to find correct answers by moving data points, dragging objects, or adjusting aspects of an image. Students must do more than provide answers or select vocabulary word definitions. They have to understand the questions and provide evidence and reasoning needed to support their answers. The less experience students have with technology tools prior to computer-based assessments, the worse their scores are across all grade levels and demographics. Gizmos give students that valuable experience.
See for yourself how Gizmos can help your students succeed on the CAST with a