Forward Looking Retrospective
by Rick Pomeroy
Every year, about mid August, I start to get this funny, unsettled feeling. As I drive around town, I see more and more cars in school parking lots, lawns around school get mowed more regularly, large piles of boxes appear by the front doors of schools, and the lights at the local football stadium are on late in the evening. Like the first leaves in spring or the smell of freshly mowed grass on a warm summer day, these images of the reopening of schools signal a start of yet another school year. These are inspiring to me and the excitement and anticipation that comes with every new school year are the feelings I look forward to and cherish.
After 37 first days of school, you would think I would get used to this but, alas, I have not. Each year, I rethink past lessons asking myself how I might make them a little better. How can I relate concepts to my students’ lives, and how can I inspire students to push themselves to new heights and new successes? These are questions that teachers everywhere share. Despite what some may perceive, we are not factory workers doing the same thing year after year. We don’t reuse the same lessons we used five years ago, and we can’t use the same examples we have used in the past. Just as the recent Mars landing brought back the joy I felt when I watched the Eagle land on the moon, I also realized that most of my students had not even been born in 1969. Since that time, entire space programs have been launched and retired and most students carry around more computing power in their cell phones than was available to the astronauts that landed on the moon. Diseases that were unknown when I started teaching have ravaged millions of lives but are now readily (but perhaps only temporarily) controlled through drugs or therapies that have been developed by the very same people I may have taught as 7th graders in my first year of teaching.
It is not just the content of science that has changed. The entire culture and environment of teaching has changed and yet our dedication to inspiring our students to be successful remains the same. We are preparing them to take their places in a society that is significantly different than that of their parents, but we are also preparing them to be successful in a society that will be significantly different than that of their children. To say that change is inevitable is almost cliché. A better view would be to say that to survive we must embrace the fact that change will happen and prepare our students to deal with those changes. We can no longer rest on the notion that possessing scientific knowledge is the key to success, but rather, must equip our students with the tools, skills, knowledge, and habits of mind to react appropriately to change, and to embrace and make that the most of opportunities that changes bring.
As I have said in previous editions of California Classroom Science, we are entering a period of rapid change in science education. Standards, assessments, technology, and even the content of science will be changing rapidly in the coming year. As we begin this new academic year, I challenge you to rethink the things you do each day. Begin to engage in the conversations surrounding the metamorphosis of science education as we have done it for fifteen years, into a science education that prepares our students for college and careers, to enter a more technologically dependent world, and to find solutions to questions not yet asked using tools not yet developed.
As you start back to school or embark on a new career as a science teacher, I would like to wish a successful start to the new year, a renewed energy to champion the importance of science education for all students, and the satisfaction to know that what you do makes a difference.
by Michelle French
Since the public reviews of the Next Generation Science Standards have come to a close, like many primary teachers, I’ve been wondering what science will look like in kindergarten, first, and second grade classrooms. Learn More…
“SOL Grotto, 2012. 1368 glass tubes, paint. Fabrication: Matarozzi Pelsinger, Rael San Fratello Architects. SOL Grotto is a contemporary take on a grotto or Throeau’s cabin – a spartan retreat that is a space of solitude and close to nature – where one is presented with a mediated experience of water, coolness and light. The SOL Grotto also explores Solyndra’s role as a company S#@t Out of Luck. 1,368 of the 24 million high tech glass tubes destined to be destroyed as a casualty of their bankruptcy, are used in the installation. The tube’s original role as a light concentrating element is extended to transmit cool air into the space via the Venturi effect, to amplify sounds from the adjacent waterfall via the vibrations of the tubes cantilevering over the creek, and to create distorted views of the garden. The form of the electric blue array evokes Plato’s Allegory of the Cave where shadows, light and sounds can call reality into question.”
Responses from Readers:
Peter A’Hearn: Rush hour in little blue circle land.
by Valerie Joyner
Congratulations to CSTA member and STEM Educator, Katherine Schenkelberg, of West High School, in Torrance, CA! Katherine was recently awarded one of the 2013 Vernier/NSTA Technology Awards. An appointed panel of experts selected her for her innovative use of data-collection technology. “The use of data-collection technology in the classroom helps foster students’ interest in STEM education and provides them with engaging, hands-on opportunities for scientific investigation,” said David Vernier, co-founder of Vernier and a former physics teacher. “For ten years Vernier and NSTA have recognized innovative STEM educators through this award and this year’s winners are no exception – their projects and programs truly utilize the power of data-collection technology as part of the teaching and learning process.” Learn More…
by Tim Williamson
Members of the California Science Teachers Association are now in the process of voting for qualified CSTA members to fill the seven openings on the CSTA Board of Directors for the 2013-2015 term.
The election is being conducted electronically and opened for voting on April 16, 2013. Voting will close on May 16, 2013. All CSTA members were sent links to the online ballot. Members for whom we do not have current email addresses or who request a paper ballot have been mailed a ballot and candidate statements. Learn More…