Inspiring Scientists of All Ages
Posted: Tuesday, October 1st, 2013
by Rebecca Smith
* originally published by MediaPlanet.com, reused with permission
When I was six, I fell in love with science. Visiting a friend one day in rural Indiana, her mother, an artist, showed us how to see onion skin cells using a microscope. A whole world opened up to me and I was hooked. Liking science became a part of my identity even though I had never met a scientist nor had I studied science in school.
Research shows that, like me, many STEM professionals can point to an experience, often in early childhood, which inspired them to pursue a science career.
Role models are also known to play a critical role in building and sustaining student interest in science and science careers, as well as changing perceptions of scientists. A surprising number of students still believe that most scientists are white men in lab coats. Moreover, for many students, the only STEM professionals they ever meet are pediatricians and school nurses. Thus, students’ ideas of both who goes into science and available scientific careers are very limited.
How can we provide students with that critical spark and introduce them to role models? Science Festivals, a growing national movement, are one way. The Bay Area Science Festival seeks to inspire and connect attendees of all ages with STEM professionals from a range of fields. The Festival is a 10-day celebration that reaches more than 75,000 people and culminates with a free, hands-on science extravaganza at AT&T Park.
Many groups around the country also connect science professionals with students in schools, after-school programs, and in laboratories. Here at U.C. San Francisco, more than 250 scientists each year volunteer in classrooms via the Science & Health Education Partnership. Through these programs, students develop relationships with scientist role models, experience enriched science learning opportunities, change their perceptions of scientists, and critically, start to see themselves as scientists.
Finally, a critical place for that love of science to grow is schools. They are perhaps the only setting where we can reach nearly all students. But, to do so, we actually have to teach science—our country’s education policies have resulted in most elementary students receiving little to no science instruction.
This year’s release of the Next Generation Science Standards provides an opportunity—both to increase the amount of science taught and the way it is taught. Science is not a list of facts to be memorized. It is a creative endeavor, a dynamic and exciting field, and STEM professionals are constantly learning and solving problems. In our teaching, we need to intimately link doing science with learning science and thus create opportunities for discovery and inspiration in the classroom and beyond.
Dr. Rebecca Smith is Co-Director, UCSF Science & Health Education Partnership, and is a CSTA member.
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…