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!
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…