Amazon Rain Forest – An Amazing Summer Opportunity for Teachers!
Posted: Monday, October 19th, 2015
By Jennifer Weibert and Kirsten Franklin
Are you looking for an exciting and amazing professional development opportunity for next summer? One, which includes boat trips on the Amazon, night walks, birding and…NGSS?!? Yes, it exists and it is available to all California teachers!
It’s the Educator Academy in the Amazon. This academy will provide you with an unprecedented opportunity to engage in hands-on, NGSS-based investigations, citizen science research projects, and inquiry-based learning activities designed to deepen understanding of the rain forest ecosystems and its global significance.
This past summer, as science coordinators and TOSA, we attended the ten day, cross-curricular Educator Academy in the Amazon rainforest along with 28 other science education leaders and classroom teachers. This academy provided an unprecedented opportunity to engage in hands-on, NGSS-based investigations, citizen science research projects, and inquiry-based learning activities designed to deepen understanding of the rainforest ecosystems and its global significance.
We all gathered in Lima, Peru at the start, where we flew to Iquitos, and travelled, by boat, 240 kilometers upriver on the Amazon to the first of four camps owned by Explorama Lodges. There we had access to all levels of the rainforest ecosystem – even the tree canopy which we explored utilizing one of the world’s most extensive walkway systems. We went on daily hikes led by research scientists including Drs. David Pearson, Director of Amazon Conservatory for Tropical Studies, and Randy Morgan, former Director of Entomology for the Cincinnati Zoo, as well as other local guides. As we traveled through the rainforest, we collected data for analysis and utilized Project Learning Tree curriculum and equipment supplied by Vernier Software and Technology.
Through this academy, we developed a deeper understanding of the effects of human impact on the global ecosystem and the interconnectivity of human actions, regardless of their locations around the world. By utilizing 21st century learning tools in a unique setting, we were able to more fully understand how to use these educational strategies in our classrooms. Close personal and professional bonds were created among many of the teachers as we remain in post-trip contact sharing resources, experiences, ideas and photographs. Untamed Science has posted a video on Youtube that illustrates many of the same activities we experienced during our time in the Amazon- 10 Things to Do in the Amazon. To top it all off, the teachers with us were able to gain professional development hours through Arizona State University for completing the pre-academy course. Who would have guessed that professional development could be so fun?!
Jennifer Weibert is the Science Coordinator for Fresno County Office of Education. Kirsten Franklin is a TOSA for Science and Common Core Support for Petaluma City Schools. Both are members of CSTA.
Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
by Jessica Sawko
In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.
At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/infomeeting.asp.) Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
by Carol Peterson
1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!
Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award
The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?
The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt
Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…