March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

Bio-Boot Camp

Posted: Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

by Eric Lewis

The Bay Area is full of opportunities and resources for life sciences. While we have great institutions that highlight the natural world around us, there are also amazing opportunities to enjoy nature at our numerous parks and beaches. Last summer, I helped develop a summer school course for SFUSD students that focused on physiology and leveraged expertise and resources from our local medical school (UCSF), our local CSU (SFSU) and our city college (CCSF). We even included a trip to UC Berkeley during the school year to further reinforce a college-going culture for our students.

The course was offered to rising 10th graders at Mission High School in San Francisco. All of these students had just completed a year of conceptual physics, the course that 9th graders take at Mission High. We focused on these students for two reasons: there aren’t many opportunities for rising tenth graders over the summer, and these students were going to be taking biology for their next year of science. In general, the biology curriculum at Mission did not focus on physiology – a part of our old standards that tended to get some attention only at the end of the school year. Consequently, we focused this summer course on physiology. Students met for four weeks, from 9:00am to 3:30pm, Monday through Friday, and students received biology credits toward their graduation.

Of course, we aimed to keep the course FUN and ENGAGING. When you have students for six hours a day, five days a week, it’s important to keep things moving. Not only did we have many different projects going on (research on a physiology topic, dissections, field trips, experiments), we also included many guest speakers, short videos and myriad demonstrations. Rather than providing a day-by-day summary of the course (if you’re REALLY interested, email me at lewise2@sfusd.edu), I want to highlight two aspects of the course that may translate to your context in your city:

  1. Partnering with SACNAS (the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science)
  2. Partnering with UCSF (the University of California, San Francisco – our local graduate school for medical sciences)

SACNAS is a national organization with chapters at all kinds of colleges and universities. As Mission High is richly diverse and many of the students have a Latin American heritage, we decided that partnering with SACNAS would be a great boon to our students (and to the participating SACNAS students). As part of the classroom experience, SACNAS participants had many different roles. SACNAS students shared their experiences with education and how they came to be interested in pursuing science in college or in graduate school. This was incredibly powerful for everyone in the room since the City College students were able to hear from students doing research at UCSF. Of course, the Mission High students were able to hear about the journeys of all the SACNAS students – and there were MANY different pathways for these students. Additionally, the SACNAS students that were engaged in research shared their research with our high school students after having thought about how to best articulate their research to a high school audience that hadn’t yet taken biology (a pretty good challenge for young researchers). Finally, the SACNAS students served as mentors to our students – coming in at least twice as week to share their expertise in research and to help our students develop and research their own areas of interest that were presented in poster session/dinner celebration on our last day of class. Of course, our field trips to SF State, City College of San Francisco, UCSF and UC Berkeley were made more comfortable and accessible by including the SACNAS students as chaperones as well!

Our partnership with UCSF was large a result of work with the UCSF Center for Educational Partnerships (a part of the Student Academic Affairs Division). Through this partnership we were able to provide many different perks for our class (including food for some field trips, T-shirts for all the students, and food/drinks for our final celebration). Some of the clear benefits of this collaboration included:

  • Field trips to UCSF
    • Dental School
    • Stem Cell Building
    • Nursing School
    • Pharmacy School
    • Graduate School
    • Medical School
    • Kanbar Center
    • Mission Bay Campus laboratories
  • Classroom speakers/guest lecturers
  • Picking up and returning materials for our class through UCSF SEP’s lending library

Over all, the students, SACNAS participants, and SFUSD teachers had an amazing summer of learning. We completed amazing laboratory activities, dissections, hands-on activities and had students discussing challenging science content with each other and with their science mentors from SACNAS. Students produced many types of written materials – from annotated illustrations to poster presentations. Our goal of getting many underrepresented minority students more engaged in science (and doing better in their biology classes over the course of 2013-2014 school year) seems to have been successful. The next few months will help complete this particular story… Hopefully, we’ll find many of these students back at our local institutions for college – and, majoring in science!

Written by Eric Lewis

Eric Lewis

Eris Lewis is high school area science support in the San Francisco Unified School District LEAD office.

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CSTA Endorses March for Science

Posted: Monday, March 27th, 2017

The California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) stands with our science and science education colleagues in endorsing the March For Science and its associated activities.

The decision by the CSTA Board of Directors to support the March for Science was based on the understanding that this is an opportunity to advocate for our mission of high quality science education for all and to advance the idea that science has application to everyday life, is a vehicle for lifelong learning, and the scientific enterprise expands our knowledge of the world around us. The principles and goals of the March for Science parallel those of CSTA to assume a leadership role in solidarity with our colleagues in science and science education and create an understanding of the value of science in the greater community. CSTA believes that the integrity of the nature of science and that the work of scientists and science educators should be valued and supported. We encourage your participation to stand with us.

There are over 30 satellite marches planned for the April 22, 2017 March for Science in California (to find a march near you, click on “marches” in the upper right of the main page, select “satellite marches” and use the search feature). We encourage members who participate in the March for Science to share their involvement and promotion of science and science education. Feel free to promote CSTA on your signs and banners. For those on social media, you may share your involvement via Twitter, @cascience and our Facebook groups.

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.

California Science Curriculum Framework Now Available

Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.

For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.

The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.

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.

Call for CSTA Awards Nominations

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. 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.

Call for Volunteers – CSTA Committees

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

Volunteer

CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: 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.

A Friend in CA Science Education Now at CSTA Region 1 Science Center

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see www.explorit.org. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.