January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

The College Board’s Seven Science Practices: Practice Number Four

Posted: Friday, March 1st, 2013

by Bethany Dixon

The College Board has released seven science practices that will be shared through the disciplines. (Note: these are not to be confused with the NGSS “Science and Engineering Practices” from the Framework for K-12 Science Education.) The new Advanced Placement Curriculum Framework for AP Biology began this year, with plans for revamping AP Chemistry (2013-2014) and AP Physics (2014-2015) on the horizon. The new frameworks give students a chance to hone their skills at the lab bench, which is crucial for their success with the new AP Science Examinations and the upcoming transition to NGSS. Here is the second installment of the seven practices overview, with use-them-now tips for your classroom. The first three practices can be found in our February issue of eCCS.

 

4.     Plan and implement DATA COLLECTION strategies appropriate to a particular scientific question.

“Yes, but how do we MEASURE that?!” is a question that shouldn’t be the end to a scientific inquiry; instead, it’s part of the entire scientific process and experience. Teaching students how to arrange and collect data in an appropriate way is no easy feat, though. One group that has a handle on it is NASA’s Mars Student Imaging Project. The project helps students establish data-collection protocols and gives them the opportunity to collect and analyze data taken by the Thermal Emission Imaging System Camera on NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter. Teaching students to plan their own data collection method is a great way to involve students in understanding how science is built through peer review, and researching accepted protocols for different disciplines is a valuable learning experience for upper-level students.

Prompting students to looking at the way data is collected and to question each step provides them with greater insight on each aspect of the process. Asking students critical questions about even cookbook labs can help to build their inquiry skills, for example, “Why are they measuring both before and after the test?” or, “What are they looking for?” or, “Why is aseptic technique important in this lab, but not in the last one?”  Giving students choices between measuring implements for a lab slides them into creating their own data collection methods early. We can ask them to deliberate about what device or tool, (such as metric rulers, timers, thermometers, etc.) is most appropriate to measure with in order to collect the desired data. Beyond actual collection strategies, data implementation is also critical for student success. Understanding what constitutes data and how to effectively manage data during an experiment is a lesson many students learn and reinforce through experience. A favorite of mine is from “Loose in the Lab,” where students make “helicopters” of different sizes and fly them for one minute without collecting data and we explain the importance of reliable data.

After the data collection method has been established we must insure that students are collecting data appropriately. Students frequently struggle with the differences between error analysis in high school classes and uncertainty principles used in college labs. Many students in my class are able to effectively calculate error and describe significant figures but when it comes to understanding the “why” and “how” of probability and managing uncertainty in the college classroom, the differences between demonstrating (calculating) and  using (understanding and applying) error analysis can be frustrating and confusing. One technique used by the Science Education Resource Center (SERC) is to break the process into three key steps: First, teaching students how to make effective measurements and determine the differences between error and uncertainty. Second, give students the tools to measure effectively by identifying sources of error and sources of uncertainty in both individual measurements and groups of measurements. Third, students should integrate uncertainty measurement into existing lab activities on their own, blending what they’ve practiced with their own inquiry labs and pre-made labs.

Data collection and data collection strategies shouldn’t be limited to science classes. Utilize your teacher resources at your school to find out what kinds of data need to be collected on campus, or that might be valuable for math, English, or social science classes. A cross-curricular data-collection experiment on study habits is always appreciated by the counseling department, and students love collecting meaningful data and sharing their results with their peers. I also find that sharing how data is collected in other disciplines helps students who aren’t planning on majoring in science find real relevance in my course. My political science, psychology, and history majors are always impressed to find out that they can get a “leg up” in their major in research methods by understanding data collection.

Look for our next segment on the seven science practices in the next issue of ECCS including:

5.      Perform DATA ANALYSIS and evaluation of evidence.

6.    Work with scientific EXPLANATIONS AND THEORIES.

7.     CONNECT AND RELATE knowledge across various scales, concepts, and representations.

Written by Bethany Dixon

Bethany Dixon is a science teacher at Western Sierra Collegiate Academy, is a CSTA Publications Committee Member, and is a member of CSTA.

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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.

Learn More…

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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.