September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Summer of Science Through Social Media

Posted: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

by Adam Hermann

Hermann1Student energy levels are rising, birds are singing, and strawberry season is in full swing, which can only mean one thing. Summer is upon us! It is an exciting time of the year for many, but students in particular begin looking ahead to a break from formal education. No more homework or long bus rides, no more sack lunches or single file lines, and much more time to play with friends. As students begin to look ahead, we as educators have the opportunity to utilize social media to help introduce a different style of science education: Self-directed.

Self-directed learning is exactly what it sounds like: individuals taking the initiative to pursue a learning experience. In other words, it is a form of education that the students choose to engage in. While some students may do this on their own accord, or may be encouraged to do so by their parents, the majority will not. That’s where we can step in with fun-filled educational experiences.

Hermann2Social media and online sources are playing a large role in the development of our culture. It is a free communication channel that we can use to reach out to students and their families without requesting any extra effort from parents who already have their hands full. In addition, it is a tool that many students and parents use on a daily basis. Allowing you to tap into a communicative device that in many cases is literally in your student’s hand all summer. Following are some ideas to integrate into a social media platform that may get students thinking:

  • DIY Experiments – Check out some cool science experiments that could be done from the comfort of their own home. Additionally maybe find a video camera allowing the students to follow along, as they might in class. If you’re feeling really ambitious, add some light comedy. There’s nothing more fun then laughing at your science teacher’s jokes, pop-culture references, or failed video takes! (Kinesthetic, Spatial learners)
  • Science in the News – Find interesting scientific discoveries or advancements. The best ones would most likely include compelling images or videos, which provide a visual. (Spatial Learners)
  • Discuss Local Scientific Occurrences – One example might be when (or if) a rainstorm happens to pass overhead. Posting a discussion question about something the students might have experienced first-hand is a good way to create discussion not only with yourself, but with their neighborhood friends, or other family members as well. (interpersonal/linguistic learners)
  • Weekly Science Question – Such questions could be constructed around topics discussed throughout the year, or could lead the students to discover the answer. For example: What happens when you put a glass out in the yard on a sunny day? This is a question that gets the students thinking. Even if they don’t test it out, they will likely take a guess only to wait for the answer to be revealed. (intrapersonal/mathematical)

Hermann3Now that ideas have begun to materialize, the next step is to formulate the plan. Without a clear strategy you will likely find yourself lost amidst an overwhelming variety of activities. Develop a list of topics related to the curriculum you taught throughout the year. Students will already have a basic understanding of the activity’s topic, making their interest more likely. Once a list is created, turn to whatever resources are necessary (i.e. news resource for “science in the news” or activities for “DIY experiments”).

Here is an example schedule with topics from the NGSS learning goals for 5th grade:

June Subject – Matter & Energy

  • Photosynthesis – Leaf Stamps
  • Atomic matter – Density Matters
  • Energy transfer – Bouncing Ball

July Subject – Interstellar activity

  • Gravitational pull – Pendulum Painting
  • Orbiting Objects – NASA Satellite Viewer
  • Planetary motion – Elliptical Orbit

August Subject – Earth systems & cycles

  • Water cycle – Indoor rain
  • Food web – Food Web Game
  • Weather/climate – NOAA Climate at a Glance

Ultimately the amount of interest and participation of our students will always be dependent upon the degree of parental involvement. As a teacher the only contact you will likely have with your students after the summer bell rings is an “accidental” encounter. While these do happen from time to time, we as teachers can increase the likelihood of them happening more frequently by being an active part of community events and encouraging families to do the same.

Create a summer calendar of various cultural, scientific, or community events that you will be attending. Some parents may receive this handout and toss it, but many others may post it up on their fridge. Events might include:

  • Free day at the museum or zoo
  • Farmers market
  • Cultural celebrations

Get the students library cards by inviting in your local librarian. This may sound old-fashioned but students are much more likely read if they have the resources to do so.

These suggestions are both long shots, but if nothing else it gets the parents thinking about ways to encourage their student’s academic interests. In the end this parental support is the key to advanced education.

Through the ideas presented, we at Mission Springs Outdoor Education hope that you are able to encourage and support your students’ academic adventure far beyond your physical reach. They are our future, and what we do, as educators will dictate the academic wealth of our future generation.

If you have any questions or comments, we would be happy to speak with you! We can be reached via email at or call (831) 335-3205.

Thank you for all that you do. We hope that this coming summer brings you great joy and rest for the following year!

Adam Hermann is a marketing specialist at Mission Springs Outdoor Education.

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy:

Leave a Reply


CSTA Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

Updated 7:25 pm, Nov. 17, 2017

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. 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.

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.