Professional Development Opportunity: Students Empowered to Help the Environment
Posted: Thursday, July 3rd, 2014
by Bill Andrews
In the Spring semester of 2013, 436 Northern California students in grades three through twelve completed dozens of remarkable school-based environmental stewardship projects. Facilitated by their teachers who were participating in a professional development institute, the students reported they not only “learned new information [about the environment] and were motivated to do new [stewardship] projects,” but also they “came away from their project with a sense of empowerment to help the environment.” The students’ attitudes and behaviors toward the environment were collected via surveys after they completed their stewardship projects. The survey results were compiled by the Los Angeles-based Evaluation and Training Institute (ETI), as part of an external evaluation plan coordinated by the California Environmental Education Foundation (CEEF).
The ETI research revealed that the “younger students in the third and fourth grades gained in environmental knowledge, had positive attitudes towards specific stewardship behaviors, and were willing to engage in these behaviors.” ETI found equally impressive results in the post-project surveys with the students in grades five through twelve. ETI reported the older students “experienced statistically significant impacts [in environmental knowledge, attitude and behavior] and they “demonstrated they were able to think through an environmental problem: identifying the problem, cause and solutions.” In all likelihood, the students’ acquired thinking skills and environmental knowledge will be very useful in helping them master the new “science and engineering practices” and “disciplinary core ideas” found in the recently adopted California Next Generation Science Standards.
The most promising evidence that the students benefitted from their stewardship projects is seen in ETI’s finding that two-thirds of the students indicated they “agreed or strongly agreed” that “the stewardship project taught me new information about environmental problems.” And one sixth-grade student proudly stated, “we know that we are going make a difference to pass this life-lesson on to the community,” after his class presented a water awareness campaign to other students and their parents. This student’s confidence was corroborated by 85% of the teachers who reported to ETI that they “saw student evidence of increased ecological content knowledge [e.g. through tests, classroom discussions, and reports].” These positive student results were exactly the desired outcomes of both CEEF and its outside supporters: the Saxton Family Foundation, The Department of Water Resources, and the Sandia National Laboratories.
The next CEEF teacher institute is planned for 2015 in Los Angeles. Prior to being accepted to the Institute the teachers will need to obtain their principal’s permission to conduct a stewardship project and agree to participate in action research. The Institute teachers receive a stipend, complimentary meals, 24 hours of professional development, and follow-up coaching from experts in pedagogy, environmental education and stewardship. The teacher institute application will be posted on the CEEF website in the fall at www.caeefoundation.org. Questions regarding the Institute should be directed to Bill Andrews, CEEF Executive Director, via email at email@example.com.
Bill Andrews is the Executive Director at the California Environmental Education Foundation (CEEF)
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…