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.
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.
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…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
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…
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…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Joseph Calmer
Probably like you, NGSS has been at the forefront of many department meetings, lunch conversations, and solitary lesson planning sessions. Despite reading the original NRC Framework, the Ca Draft Frameworks, and many CSTA writings, I am still left with the question: “what does it actually mean for my classroom?”
I had an eye-opening experience that helped me with that question. It came out of a conversation that I had with a student teacher. It turns out that I’ve found the secret to learning how to teach with NGSS: I need to engage in dialogue about teaching with novice teachers. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching science in some capacity for 12 years. During that time pedagogy and student learning become sort of a “hidden curriculum.” It is difficult to plan a lesson for the hidden curriculum; the best way is to just have two or more professionals talk and see what emerges. I was surprised it took me so long to realize this epiphany. Learn More…