Looking Forward Towards the Future of Science Education
Posted: Thursday, November 1st, 2012
by Rick Pomeroy
The following is the text of the President’s address at the opening session of the 2012 California Science Education Conference:
These are exciting times to be in science education. Since the last time we talked, a lot has happened in our schools that will fundamentally change our teaching, science education, and, most importantly, the learning and lives of our students.
The child born today will begin school in 2017. He or she will graduate high school in 2029, college in 2035, and work as a productive citizen through 2070. Given the trends in life expectancy, the child born today will be alive in 2100. The decisions we make today will impact choices and opportunities for a significant period of time.
This conference has been planned as one of the first steps in beginning that long road to a new understanding of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math and how it impacts our lives. To understand the content of this conference, from our opening keynote speaker, Dr. Helen Quinn, to our closing speaker, Josh Tickell, you have to know what has been happening behind the scenes. Since we last met about a year ago, in Pasadena, Common Core Standards have been adopted and implemented in your schools. Many of you have attended and participated in strategy meetings, professional development, and implementation conferences to make this transition happen. This process has not been without its challenges and it will continue to be a hot topic among teachers and pundits alike. Though focused primarily on English language arts and math, there are significant parts of the Common Core Standards that influence your science teaching. Math includes greater emphasis on practices such as computational modeling and reasoning and English language arts contains specific expectations for reading and writing in technical subjects like science and history. In my visits to classrooms, I can already see these expectations in place. There is a greater emphasis placed on the academic writing in lab reports and the use of evidence to support conclusions. We see increases in graphing, mathematical reasoning, and yes, even in the use of algebra.
Fortunately, Common Core Standards are only the beginning. Things are changing in science as well. Common Core has opened the door for a fresh new look at what can be done when California decides to work with other states towards a common goal of better student understanding and learning.
In a few minutes, our keynote speaker will tell you about the vision for science education through the lens of the Conceptual Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards.
To give you some context of how we got to this point, I think it is important to know what CSTA has been doing on your behalf. There have been countless information meetings, task force conferences, legislative sessions, and school board meetings, all focused on the new vision for science education that will engage and inspire students and prepare them for college or career in STEM fields. Just this past week, I attended the final meeting of the STEM Task Force, the STEM Summit in San Diego, and the National Implementation meeting in Indianapolis. In the weeks and months since our Pasadena conference, we have all had a chance to review the first public draft of NGSS and in a few weeks, you will have a chance to review the second and FINAL public draft of the NGSS. Early next year, the final version of those standards will be released after which you will have two additional chances for public comment. Finally, roughly thirteen months from today, the State Board of Education will make a decision on the content of the Standards for California.
When I opened, I described how decisions we make now will have a lasting impact into the 22nd Century. It is imperative that you, the leaders in science education, take part in this process. You must make your voices heard if you want to have a say in the future of science education.
Now, you may be asking yourself, how much can my one voice matter? With the national election coming soon, we hear that comment a lot. So let me tell you about one concrete example where your voice made the difference. This past May, our Governor, in an effort to fix the State budget, proposed decreasing the science requirements for high school graduation from two years to one. Given all of the efforts and discourse about strengthening science and technology as a cure for a stagnant economy this ides seemed ridiculous. But the Governor argued that in tough times, you had to make tough decisions. We did not agree! Instead, CSTA, along with other science organizations, mounted a successful campaign that mobilized you to contact your representative, legislators, and the Governor himself with the message that in this case, Less is not More! Clearly, Less is Less. At CSTA we were proud of your efforts to stand up and say No! Through that process, you demonstrated your voice in maintaining the two-year requirement.
In the coming year, you need to raise your voices again. Through CSTA, and other professional organizations such as the California Science Projects, K-12 Alliance, CISC and CSLNet, you need to participate in the review and adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards and the implementation of a new STEM empowered way of teaching and learning. We must realize that we are making decisions that will have impact well into the 22nd Century.
In closing, I would like to paraphrase Linda Darling-Hammond who described our task as teachers as preparing the children of today, to use the tools of tomorrow, to answer the questions that haven’t yet been asked.
The speakers and the conference can and should be your first step down the road to making this happen.
Posted: Monday, March 27th, 2017
The California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) stands with our science and science education colleagues in endorsing the March For Science and its associated activities.
The decision by the CSTA Board of Directors to support the March for Science was based on the understanding that this is an opportunity to advocate for our mission of high quality science education for all and to advance the idea that science has application to everyday life, is a vehicle for lifelong learning, and the scientific enterprise expands our knowledge of the world around us. The principles and goals of the March for Science parallel those of CSTA to assume a leadership role in solidarity with our colleagues in science and science education and create an understanding of the value of science in the greater community. CSTA believes that the integrity of the nature of science and that the work of scientists and science educators should be valued and supported. We encourage your participation to stand with us.
There are over 30 satellite marches planned for the April 22, 2017 March for Science in California (to find a march near you, click on “marches” in the upper right of the main page, select “satellite marches” and use the search feature). We encourage members who participate in the March for Science to share their involvement and promotion of science and science education. Feel free to promote CSTA on your signs and banners. For those on social media, you may share your involvement via Twitter, @cascience and our Facebook groups.
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.
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…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
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…
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…