March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

Informal Science Education and Preservice Teachers

Posted: Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

by Rick Pomeroy

Despite the hours of lesson planning, methods classes, student teaching, and high stakes testing, every pre-service teacher eventually comes to the conclusion that their students learn science in a variety of ways and a variety of places, not always in the classroom. Learning the power of these informal science experiences is important for any teacher but particularly for teachers who will be entering the profession in the next few years.

Commonly referred to as informal science education, these out of the classroom experiences have a powerful impact on students’ curiosity, enjoyment and engagement in more formal science settings. Learning to harness and incorporate this engagement can be a challenge for pre-service and early career teachers. It takes time and effort to learn what excites the students, but it is time well spent.

One of the first things that every new teacher should do when starting at a new school is learn the lay of the science landscape by getting to know the informal science resources in the community. These can be museums, zoos, animal parks, day camps or after-school clubs. They can be organized educational events such as science fairs, competitions or contests, or they can be unstructured experiences such as make-it fairs or hobby groups. Whatever form they take, informal science experiences have a powerful impact on students’ engagement and interest in science. Informal science resources in a community can provide a much wider range of experiences for children without the constraints of school organization, assessments, and regimented time schedules. Children’s participation in these informal experiences is most often voluntary and not required by policy or school regulations.

Advertisement

Advertisement

So how do new teachers learn about these opportunities? Start by asking. Ask the students, parents, and the other teachers at your school. Call the Chamber of Commerce or the visitor’s bureau and check with the parks and recreation departments or local youth organizations. Whichever strategy is used, new teachers should find out what, when, and where these opportunities exist, and then go for a visit. Many of these organizations would welcome volunteer help on weekends or evenings and might even exchange volunteer hours for discounts or passes for students. Or, if it is impossible for students to visit the informal site, a teacher can invite a speaker or special program from the organization to their classes. Regardless of how they access it, new teachers will benefit by the increased engagement of their students as well as a wealth of new ideas to make formal science instruction more engaging.

As teachers, we might like to believe that the lessons in our classes are the key factors in our students’ science learning but this view of our roles as teachers ignores one significant piece of the science learning puzzle: real life!

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis.

Leave a Reply

LATEST POST

California Science Curriculum Framework Now Available

Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.

For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.

The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.

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.

Call for CSTA Awards Nominations

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. 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.

Call for Volunteers – CSTA Committees

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

Volunteer

CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: 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.

A Friend in CA Science Education Now at CSTA Region 1 Science Center

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see www.explorit.org. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.

Learning to Teach in 3D

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Joseph Calmer

Probably like you, NGSS has been at the forefront of many department meetings, lunch conversations, and solitary lesson planning sessions. Despite reading the original NRC Framework, the Ca Draft Frameworks, and many CSTA writings, I am still left with the question: “what does it actually mean for my classroom?”

I had an eye-opening experience that helped me with that question. It came out of a conversation that I had with a student teacher. It turns out that I’ve found the secret to learning how to teach with NGSS: I need to engage in dialogue about teaching with novice teachers. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching science in some capacity for 12 years. During that time pedagogy and student learning become sort of a “hidden curriculum.” It is difficult to plan a lesson for the hidden curriculum; the best way is to just have two or more professionals talk and see what emerges. I was surprised it took me so long to realize this epiphany. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.