Summer of Science Through Social Media
Posted: Thursday, June 4th, 2015
by Adam Hermann
Student 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.
BRIDGING THE GAP
Social 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)
BUILDING THE BRIDGE INTO SUMMER
Now 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
HOW TO ACHIEVE MAXIMUM INTEREST
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 email@example.com 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.
Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.
For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.
The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Marian Murphy-Shaw
If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see www.explorit.org. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Joseph Calmer
Probably like you, NGSS has been at the forefront of many department meetings, lunch conversations, and solitary lesson planning sessions. Despite reading the original NRC Framework, the Ca Draft Frameworks, and many CSTA writings, I am still left with the question: “what does it actually mean for my classroom?”
I had an eye-opening experience that helped me with that question. It came out of a conversation that I had with a student teacher. It turns out that I’ve found the secret to learning how to teach with NGSS: I need to engage in dialogue about teaching with novice teachers. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching science in some capacity for 12 years. During that time pedagogy and student learning become sort of a “hidden curriculum.” It is difficult to plan a lesson for the hidden curriculum; the best way is to just have two or more professionals talk and see what emerges. I was surprised it took me so long to realize this epiphany. Learn More…