January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

Climate Citizen Science for K-12 Students

Posted: Friday, February 1st, 2013

By Minda Barbeco

Engaging students in science can be tricky. Time is limited, the material can be stifling, and students are not always the most willing participants. Moreover, running students through the same experiments with known results doesn’t really demonstrate what science is like in the real world; often, when researchers conduct scientific experiments, the organismsdon’t behave, the chemicals don’t react, the balls don’t roll down the inclined plane at the right speeds. The fact that in actual laboratory work the results don’t always support the hypotheses no doubt comes as a sad realization to many a new researcher – “But my experiments always worked in high school science classes!”

So how can science teachers working with students of all ages engage students in real life science? Citizen science, a new model of enlisting the public in scientific research, has gained recent popularity. If you are science teacher inCalifornia, there are several projects that can get your students involved and most importantly, engaged in science.

Studying Plants and Climate Change

Project BudBurst is a program run by the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) for both formal and informal educators. Through this program, teachers take their students out of the classroom to monitor plant development in their schoolyard or neighborhood. This requires students to learn about different stages in plant development, where plants grow, and how climate affects their development. The data from Project BudBurst is available online as well, allowing teachers to use data collected from all over the country to teach students about how a changing climate affects plants all across the U.S. Courses on how to collect and use the data in your classroom are available through the NEON citizen science academy.

Tracking Test Gardens

As schoolyard gardens are gaining popularity across California, there are many ways to use them to develop hypotheses to learn about how microclimates affect plant life. Students can create their own notebooks to observe field conditions and how they change through the school year, analyze microclimates, make predictions for the season, and track developmental events. As flowers start to pop out this spring, they can also observe pollinators visiting their plots to understand more about biotic relationships and plant development. For suggestions on creating your own hypothesis-generating science notebook, check out: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/tulips/observe.html

Study Animal Migration

As your students are huddled in the classroom, animals outside are scuttling, soaring, or swimming around, migrating up and down the coast with the changing seasons. An hour of time collecting population data on these critters could be the jumping-off point for abundant investigations into animal physiology and behavior. Through the organization Journey North, you can investigate the movement of robins, the appearance of earthworms, and the migration of monarchs as these animals respond to changing seasons. The data can then be used to chart changes in population density through the year, track short-term migration patterns or incorporated into larger datasets to see how migration has changed over recent years with a changing climate. More information on Journey North’s program is available at: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/

Engaging students in citizen science teaches them, in real-life settings, how experiments are designed, data are collected, and information is analyzed. Taking students through the different steps in a field setting helps them build their understanding of how science works, how researchers study organisms, and about the organisms themselves. There are ample opportunities to use these investigative techniques to teach students about the world around them, while supporting the larger scientific community as a whole. And who knows, maybe some of your students will one day become researchers who look back at the data they collected as citizen scientists as the bedrock of their scientific studies.

Minda Barbeco is the Programs and Policy Director at the National Center for Science Education.

Written by Minda Berbeco

Minda Berbeco

Minda Berbeco is the Programs and Policy Director at the National Center for Science Education and is CSTA’s Region 2 Director.

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STEM Conference Hosted by CMSESMC

Posted: Saturday, January 14th, 2017

The Council of Math/Science Educators of San Mateo County will be hosting the 41st annual STEM Conference this February 4, 2017 at the San Mateo County Office of Education. This STEM Conference is the place to get lots of new lessons and ideas to use in your classroom. There will be over twenty-five workshops and a variety of exhibitors that provide participants with a wide range of practical and realistic ideas and resources to use in their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs from Pre-K to grade 12. With California’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, we are dedicated to ensuring that we prepare our teachers to take on these educational policies.

Teachers, administrators, and parents are invited to explore the many exciting aspects of STEM education and learn about and discuss the latest news, information, and issues. This is also an opportunity to network with colleagues who can assist you in building your programs and meet new friends that share your interests and love of teaching. Register online today!

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.

Submit Your NGSS Lessons and Units Today!

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

Achieve has launched and is facilitating an EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science–a group of expert reviewers who will evaluate the quality and alignment of lessons and units to the standards–in an effort to identify and shine a spotlight on emerging high-quality lesson and unit plans designed for the NGSS.

If you or your state, district, school, or organization has designed NGSS-aligned instructional materials, please consider submitting these in order to help provide educators across the country with various models and templates of high-quality lesson and unit plans. 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.

Opportunity for High School Students – Los Angeles County

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

An upcoming Perry Outreach Program on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles, CA. The Perry Outreach Program is a free, one-day, hands-on experience for high school and college-aged women who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine and engineering. Students will hear from women leaders in these fields and try it for themselves by performing mock orthopaedic surgeries and biomechanics experiments. 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.

Science Education Policy Update

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

January 2017 has proven to be a very busy month for science education policy and CA NGSS implementation activities. CSTA has been and will be there every step of the way, seeking and enacting all options to support high-quality science education and the successful implementation of CA NGSS.

California Department of Education/U.S. Department of Education Science Double-Testing Waiver Hearing

The year started with California Department of Education’s (CDE) hearing with the U.S. Department of Education conducted via WebEx on January 6, 2017. This hearing was the final step in California’s efforts to secure a waiver from the federal government in order to discontinue administration of the old CST and suspension of the reporting of student test scores on a science assessment for two years. As reported by EdSource, the U.S. Department of Education representative, Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary John King Jr., committed to making her final ruling “very shortly.” Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley presented on behalf of CDE during the hearing and did an excellent job describing the broad-based support for this waiver in California, the rationale for the waiver, and California’s commitment to the successful implementation of a new high-quality science assessment. As previously reported, California is moving forward with its plans to administer a census pilot assessments this spring. The testing window is set to open on March 20, 2017. For more information visit New CA Science Test: What You Should Know.

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

NSTA Los Angeles Conference Features Many CA Science Leaders

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

The early-bird registration rates for the 65th NSTA National Conference on Science Education in Los Angeles is just days away (ends Feb. 3). And as the early-registration deadline approaches excitement is building for what is anticipated to be the largest gathering of science educators (both California and nationwide) – with attendance expected to reach 10,000 or more. If you have never had the pleasure of attending the NSTA National Conference, I recommend you visit their website with tips for newcomers that describe the various components of the event. A conference preview is also available for download. Learn More…

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.