January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

Increasing Technology and Engineering Practices School-wide and in the Science Classroom

Posted: Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

by Jeanine Wulfenstein

Our science classrooms are in a state of transition as we move closer toward the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core Standards.  A major part of this shift is the integration of technology and engineering practices that is infused throughout the new standards.  As part of this change it is vital that we educate students to be proficient and build the 21st century skills they are going to need to be successful. Now is the time for educators to review and refine current instructional practices to ensure proficiency not only in core science content, but also in overarching skills required to be part of a technologically literate society. 

The Common Core Standards emphasize the “Four-Cs” of collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and creativity.  These components are also at the core of engineering and scientific practice. Practicing scientists and engineers must be able to conduct background research, gather data, collaborate, and utilize technological resources to come to conclusion to push the boundaries of science and technological advancement. Several ways to embrace the technology resources are by utilizing computer based modeling software with students to simulate changes occurring over time, or by requiring students to complete web-based scavenger hunts (“web quests”) to gather data or research a given topic.  Teachers could also help students use pressure plates, force sensors, pH sensors, and/or motion sensors to collect real-time data for analysis and graphing via computer data management software.  By requiring students to utilize technology, not only will students be increasingly engaged in their learning and learn material in a more meaningful way, but they will also be better prepared with desired workplace skills.

We must broaden our vision of when and where science happens if we are to meet the learning needs of the 21st century. There is still room for expansion of data gathering and processing outside of the core science classroom.  Schools could implement Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) or “STEAM” (including integration of the arts) elective courses into the school day (like the one described in this month’s issue of CCS) to reinforce concepts learned in science through hands-on project based learning in other disciplines.  Programs such as this have inspired learning beyond the confines of the brick and mortar of the school, and have been successful with exceptional needs students since the project based elective setting can be a perfect venue for success for students with varying abilities

Time outside of the traditional “science class” could also be used to support scientific inquiry and scientific skills.  Schools could even teach data reporting and creation of science-based simulation using computer coding techniques.  Courses like this could be taught as part of a PLC intervention/enrichment model where computer coding would be offered to enrichment students or to students during a designated technology period.  Free programs like Scratch created by MIT teach programming and computer commands, and could be used to teach students to create content-related games or storyboards to reinforce and explain scientific concepts while at the same time utilizing computer coding skills.

By opening up the possibilities of student technology use and integrating engineering practices into the curriculum, educators are preparing the next generation of scientists and engineers to solve the problems of today, ward off the problems of tomorrow and catapult our society to new levels.  It is our responsibility as science educators to support this movement and to inspire our students to go out and accomplish great things!  Together we can do just that!

Written by Jeanine Wulfenstein

Jeanine Wulfenstein

Jeanine Wulfenstein teaches science at Gardner Middle School and is the CSTA Treasurer. You can reach her by emailing jwulfenstein@tvusd.k12.ca.us.

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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.

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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.