Forward Looking Retrospective
Posted: Saturday, September 1st, 2012
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.
Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
by Jessica Sawko
In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.
At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/infomeeting.asp.) Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
by Carol Peterson
1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!
Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award
The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?
The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt
Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…