September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

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.

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Written by Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis and is a past-president of CSTA.

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California Science Teachers Association

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Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

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Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

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