August 2015 – Vol. 27 No. 12

Western Regional Noyce Conference Bring Together Future Math & Science Teachers

Posted: Monday, December 3rd, 2012

by Laura Henriques

The National Science Foundation provides Robert Noyce Scholarship Grants to numerous universities and colleges to support STEM majors who commit to teach in high need schools. The Noyce Scholarship program is highly competitive. Applicants must have a degree in a STEM field, a high GPA, and demonstrated desire to work with at risk/high need students. Prospective teachers who are selected to be Noyce Scholars get financial and programmatic support as they complete their bachelor’s degree and credential. In return for the financial support they must teach one year for each semester of funding. California has had 62 Noyce programs at 35 different campuses, each of which supports 20-40 students over the life of the grant. Preliminary data suggests that the Noyce Scholars remain as teachers in high need schools long after they have worked off their commitment. What a wonderful investment this is for our state! 

For the past several years, the campuses in the western US have come together for a Western Regional Noyce Conference. In 2008 and 2009 the conference was led by Noyce Leaders at Cal Poly Pomona and CSU San Bernardino. The 2010 conference was hosted by CSU Fresno, and the 2011 conference was hosted by CSU Long Beach. This year Nyoce Scholars went to Tucson, AZ, where the University of Arizona put together another great event. More than 220 participants spent a weekend attending keynote sessions, workshops and networking opportunities. The planning team of Ingrid Novodvorsky, Debra Tomanek and Becky Perez pulled together sessions that addressed topics pertinent to prospect and novice teachers. There were workshops associated with using inquiry in the classroom (for both math and science teachers), lessons about integrating STEM topics, mentoring of new teachers, advice on how to use technology in the classroom, grant writing for the classroom, and ideas about connecting with your students to make learning meaningful and relevant. Most sessions have presentations and handouts posted online. Keynote sessions were similar to Focus Speaker sessions at our CSTA conference and they motivated the teachers in the audience and addressed current issues in the field.

As someone who prepares future teachers, it was exciting to see so many passionate educators starting out on their career path. It bodes well for our profession to see some of our brightest college students deciding to teach and to teach in the schools that need them the most. The meeting space was buzzing with teaching ideas, suggestions on ways to collaborate and thoughts about how to incorporate newly learned information. We look forward to having the California Noyce Scholars become active members of CSTA, and teacher leaders in our state.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and past-president of CSTA.

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Where California K-12 Science Teachers Go for NGSS

Posted: Friday, August 14th, 2015

RegisterNowMedNow is the time to register for the 2015 California Science Education Conference presented by the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA).  Attending the CSTA 2015 conference is a great way to gain professional development, and network with other science teachers from across the state, and obtain new classroom ideas, in one place over three days!

The California Science Education Conference is your best source of information on implementing NGSS in your classroom.

The California Science Teachers Association hosts this conference to focus on what California science educators need to know to hone their craft, stay updated on standards, and apply best practices gleaned from experts throughout the state. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

What Is the Role of Lecture in NGSS?

Posted: Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

Is there a role for lecture in NGSS classrooms? Anyone who has spent much time working on the NGSS knows that NGSS is learner centered, more about helping students to develop the tools to investigate the world than about teachers supplying knowledge. The traditional teaching style of the teacher talking and students taking notes seems to be opposite of this vision.

This vision is supported by research indicating that traditional lecture is not an effective way to teach science. Nobel Prize winning physicist Dr. Carl Wieman makes a strong case against lecture as a way to teach science.  Click here to read a summary of his findings. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Middle School Integrated Science – Getting Over It!

Posted: Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

6th graders design bionic hands as they study how body systems work together in a unit that was moved to 6th grade this year- photo by Peter A’Hearn

6th graders design bionic hands as they study how body systems work together in a unit that was moved to 6th grade this year- photo by Peter A’Hearn

Last spring I wrote an article/blog post that addressed the growing discussion about the decision to teach middle school integrated or discipline specific science. The article gives the rationale for the change and also some different models that were considered for how to transition.

There was a lot of feedback to that post: strongly supportive, deeply skeptical, and many follow up questions. Now that Palm Springs USD has finished the first year of the transition, I thought it would be a good time to look back and see how it went.

The middle school teacher leaders who helped to make the decision chose the “fast” transition plan below. Year 2 was what we just finished. 6th grade teachers (and kids) were introduced to structure and function in living things. 7th graders tried chemistry for the first time, and 8th graders played with waves. Everyone tried a little (or a lot) of engineering. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Staying Connected by Volunteering

Posted: Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

As an 8th grade science teacher in a district that is participating in the CA NGSS Early Implementation Initiative, I spent much of my summer break training with members of other Early Implementer districts (see NGSS Blog- Middle School Integrated Science- Getting Over It! By Peter A’hearn. Just as our students want to feel connected to each other (see Starting the School Year Right, by Joanne Michael) teachers also seek opportunities to connect and collaborate with other educators – even more so now with NGSS implementation actively happening in California. Perhaps connecting with others is the reason why, this year, the California Science Teachers Association had a record number of its members volunteer to serve on its committees. Teachers know that we are stronger when we come together to overcome our challenges. Learn More…

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Written by Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl is an 8th grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA and is President for CSTA.

Where to Go in Sacramento: Field Courses for the CSTA Conference

Posted: Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

When it comes to conferences I’m pretty much a workshop guy. You get lots of great ideas in a short time, lots of choices, and you are hearing it straight from teachers. But looking at the field studies being offered at the 2015 California Education Conference in Sacramento this October, I’m thinking I might just spend the whole conference learning science on the amazing field courses being offered.

Here are your choices:

AHearn_Field_Course_Photo_1The Science in Your Beer: Chemistry, Microbiology, and Sensory Analysis at Sudwerk Brewery – Visit with the scientists at the UC Davis Brewing Program, the yeast geeks at White Labs, and the brewers of Sudwerk Brewery to learn about the biochemistry and microbiology that goes into the beer you love to drink. We will share NGSS aligned activities (classroom appropriate) on reaction rate and population biology. You will also explore the chemistry of beer flavor and learn how to make taste testing scientifically rigorous! Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.