September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Recruiting Students into High School STEM Classes

Posted: Monday, April 1st, 2013

by Laura Henriques

It’s that time of year when students start to think about which high school classes they will take next year, and teachers and professional organizations are joining in the effort to help recruit students to take physics. Dean Baird, an award winning physics teacher from the Sacramento area, has put together some fliers and the AAPT has created a poster, “Top 10 Reasons to Take Physics,” which can be useful for recruiting students. For those students who are already thinking about college admission and college readiness, the A-G requirements help guide their planning and guidance counselors, teachers and parents also play a role in helping students decide whether to take a fourth year of math or a third (or fourth) year of science. Intuitively we already know that taking more math or science will help students be successful, and there is much data to support this idea. More high school math and science correlate with increased success in college, regardless of major, and STEM fields are employing candidates at higher rates (and the pay is pretty good!). These can be strong selling points when trying to convince students and their parents that a year of physics or another year of math really will be good for them.

In our slowly recovering economy, the prospect of employment after school (high school or college) is a concern for many. High school dropouts have a 31.5% unemployment rate, recent high school graduates are unemployed at 22.9% and new college grads have 8.9% unemployment levels (Carnevale, Cheah & Strohl, 2012). Interestingly, the Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) at Georgetown University examined college majors, unemployment levels and earnings. The report, Hard times: College majors, unemployment and earnings – Not all college degrees are created equal, found that employment levels and salaries were higher for graduates of STEM fields than other fields. When experience and graduate degrees are added to the equation the difference was even greater. Both high school students and their parents will be interested in this data. “Majors with high technical, business and healthcare content tend to earn the most among both recent and experienced college graduates (p 6).” Perusing the charts and tables of this report might provide some ideas as we try to recruit students to take an extra science class.

Getting a job and making a good salary is important. However, if a student doesn’t finish college the salaries and employment options are severely impacted, and we know that high school STEM increases their chances for successful completion. White and Cottle did a study to see how well states were preparing high school students to succeed in STEM careers. (California doesn’t do all that well, by the way.) They found that students’ high school math and science-taking patterns are tied to success in college for all degrees, especially for STEM degrees. Students who pass Algebra 2 are college ready but kids who successfully pass trigonometry, pre-calculus or calculus are even better prepared for college. Success in calculus is a strong predictor for success in STEM majors. In addition, students who take biology, chemistry and physics are much more likely to be successful in college, and students who take a second year of physics or chemistry are more likely to be successful in STEM degree programs than those who stopped at physics. This is not particularly earth-shattering news to us. Students who take calculus and a fourth year of high school science are usually oriented towards STEM fields already. In other words, passing calculus in high school is no guarantee that you will finish college or major in STEM, but there is a strong link.

As we try to recruit students into our courses we need to appeal to them on all levels. College and career readiness, potential employment and course relevance are all areas where we can focus our efforts. Not only will we get more students for our classes, we will be helping prepare a more scientifically literate, employable citizenry.

Carnevale, A.P, Cheah, B and Strohl. (2012). Hard times: College majors, unemployment and earnings. Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. Available online at http://cew.georgetown.edu/unemployment/.

White, S. & Cottle, P. (2011). Preparing your students for careers in science and engineering: How is your state doing? The Physics Teachers, Vol. 49 (418-420).

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and a past-president of CSTA.

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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.

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Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

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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.

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”

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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

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Science Education Background

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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

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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.