May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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 past-president of CSTA. She serves as chair of CSTA’s Nominating Committee and is a co-chair of the NGSS Committee.

Leave a Reply

LATEST POST

Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HappyAtoms

Please contact Rosanne Luu at rluu@wested.org or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

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.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). 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.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. 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.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.