September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Oregon State University Study Documents Invasive Species Release by Science Teachers

Posted: Monday, October 1st, 2012

by Judith Aquilar

Oregon State University recently released their findings of a study conducted regarding the introduction of invasive species by science teachers. It was presented on August 7, 2012 at the National Meeting of the Ecological Society of America. The study surveyed 2000 teachers from Florida, New York, Indiana, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, California, Connecticut, British Columbia, and Ontario and included focus groups and interviews with teachers, curriculum specialists and biological supply house owners and managers.  The researchers found that one out of four educators who used live organisms in their classrooms released them into the wild after they were done using them. Some of the organisms included crayfish, elodea, amphibians, and mosquito fish.

For example, crayfish are often used to teach students about habitats and adaptation, and Elodea can be used to provide food and shelter for the crayfish. These organisms are popular to allow students to observe the behaviors of the crawfish as well as their structure and the function. It seems like a fantastic idea for inquiry-based learning in an elementary classroom.  Unfortunately, however, the study found that teachers in Oregon stopped using the native Pacific Northwest crayfish due to their high mortality rate and instead began to order their crayfish from Louisiana. If these non-native Louisiana crayfish are eventually released into the wild, this poses a problem because they are not an indigenous organism if released into a local Pacific Northwest lake or stream and the diseases or parasites they carry are unknown.

The NSTA Position Statement for the Use of Live Animals specifically states that if used teachers must “refrain from releasing animals into non-indigenous environs.” Unfortunately, though, sometimes teachers don’t give this issue much thought. Oregon State University expert on invasive species, Sam Chan, advises teachers and suppliers to become educated about the introduction of invasive species. So what should teachers do? The easiest answer is probably to rely only on reputable sources for organisms, and use native species whenever possible. Plan ahead for care or disposal of the organisms once you’re finished with them in the classroom. If in doubt, there are resources available to help you decide the best option. These include:

You can read the official news release from Oregon State University by visiting their web page.

Written by Judith Aguilar

Judith Aguilar is a science teacher in the Long Beach Unified School District and is a member of CSTA.

Leave a Reply

LATEST POST

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 2017. 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.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

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

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Cal

This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. 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.