If Dr. Phil were a Science Educator…
Posted: Friday, April 1st, 2011
by Donna L. Ross
My friends, let’s call them John and Karen, are a couple in their late 30s who have been married for ten years. For the past three years, Karen has felt ready to have a child; John does not believe they are financially ready. He wants to wait until they have saved enough for all likely contingencies.
Another couple, Paul and Susan, friends of my parents, plan to retire in seven to eight years. Paul would like to begin traveling now, taking one trip each year. Susan says there will be plenty of time to travel when they retire; but for now, there is just too much work at the office. She doesn’t feel comfortable taking any of her vacation time.
At the risk of sounding like Dr. Phil, here are some things I imagine saying after I listen to my friends.
To John and Karen: you’ll never be completely ready. You should plan as well as you can, but ultimately you just have to jump in, knowing you might need to work a little longer or harder down the road. Somehow, with just a little planning it seems to work out and be worth the effort.
To Susan and Paul: don’t live just for the future. There will always be demands on your time and an increasing number of expectations. By putting off the things you want to try, you risk losing the opportunity. Or, consider this question, is there a reason you don’t want to do it? If you value something, you will find a way to fit it into your busy schedule now, instead of putting it off until that magical time when you are “caught up” with everything.
To the readers: if you’ve stuck with me this far, you are probably asking…what does this have to do with science education? I spend a lot of time considering these same responses as I listen to teachers in different districts, schools, and grades.
I think of my advice to Susan when I hear elementary teachers say “I am going to teach science as soon as I have more time” or “I am going to teach science as soon as I finish the math and language arts standards my students need for the tests.”
I think of my advice to Susan when I hear secondary teachers say “I want to do more labs and student-centered activities, but I can’t until after the state tests.”
I think of my advice to John and Karen when I hear all teachers say “I read about inquiry, but my students aren’t ready for it” or “I’ll try some inquiry labs as soon as I know a little more about how to engage my students.” or “Our school doesn’t have enough equipment to do labs.”
Try it. Go back and read my responses to my friends. Substitute the family challenges with science teaching issues. You might be surprised how well the same advice fits both scenarios.
I think if Dr. Phil were a science educator, he might say the following: We find a way to do the things we value. Even without enough time or resources, we figure out a way to embrace the aspects of our lives that are most important to us. Teachers do the same thing every day.
The instructional choices you make with each lesson reflect your values about science education. Imagine Dr. Phil is watching your class, what do your actions say about your beliefs?
Donna Ross is associate professor of science education at San Diego State University and is CSTA’s 4-year college director.
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…