January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

Synergy of Formal, Informal and Out of School Learning

Posted: Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

by Laura Henriques

January CSTA’s CCS  was a special issue dedicated to informal science education. Since then there have been a few reports released that highlight model programs that partner across these entities, and a couple of conferences and gatherings addressing the topic. A National Research Council Convocation, STEM is Everywhere, was held in Irvine in mid-February which brought leaders together from across the three worlds of science teaching and learning: formal, informal and out-of-school. Sponsored by Burroughs Welcome Foundation, S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Noyce Foundation, Samueli Foundation and the Charles & Lynn Schusterman Foundation, this two day event provided opportunities for productive conversations about how STEM learning and eventual implementation of NGSS occur across settings and how to complement as opposed to compete with each other. We all have similar goals of providing students with opportunities to learn and engage in high quality programming, so learning from each other and talking together can only be a good thing.

Prior to attending the STEM Everywhere Convocation, participants read a few documents. Included were a recently released National Academies Press report on STEM Integration in K-12 Education, a report on how cross-section collaborations are advancing STEM learning, an executive summary of what constitutes high-quality STEM programs, and a report on Defining Youth Outcomes for STEM Learning in Afterschool. Reading these documents and spending two days in conversations with each other left attendees energized about the potential to work together. Each of the partners has something unique to contribute to STEM education for our youth. The trick is for us to figure out how to leverage what each offers for the students’ benefit. What can we do to engage students? Spark interest? Build skills and knowledge? And how do we do this for all students, not just a few?

The Ecosystems Report highlights some STEM learning ecosystems that are successfully linking the formal, informal and out-of-school learning environments. Two of the fifteen emerging STEM ecosystems spotlighted are in California. They are the California Academy of Sciences Middle School Science Action Clubs and the Orange County STEM Initiative. What we can learn from these two programs as well as others described in the report is the need for shared goals and vision, mutual respect among the partners and a focus on accomplishing important tasks. The best collaborative efforts are ones anchored by strong leaders who enable the team to be opportunistic and nimble, and teams that value each other’s contributions and appreciate what each brings to the overall learning of the child.

The STEM Everywhere Convocation is but one of several that is examining the intersection of in-school and out-of-school learning. Considering that formal learning inside of classrooms represents a tiny percentage of our learning opportunities, it behooves us to talk with our educational partners in all sectors to see how we can together support our students. The NRC is currently preparing a report on the STEM Everywhere Convocation. It will be available in a few months and can be downloaded without cost from their website. If you are interested in receiving notifications from NRC when the report becomes available or if you’d like to receive notifications about the release of other Academies reports in your area(s) of interest you may subscribe at the same address.

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.

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STEM Conference Hosted by CMSESMC

Posted: Saturday, January 14th, 2017

The Council of Math/Science Educators of San Mateo County will be hosting the 41st annual STEM Conference this February 4, 2017 at the San Mateo County Office of Education. This STEM Conference is the place to get lots of new lessons and ideas to use in your classroom. There will be over twenty-five workshops and a variety of exhibitors that provide participants with a wide range of practical and realistic ideas and resources to use in their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs from Pre-K to grade 12. With California’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, we are dedicated to ensuring that we prepare our teachers to take on these educational policies.

Teachers, administrators, and parents are invited to explore the many exciting aspects of STEM education and learn about and discuss the latest news, information, and issues. This is also an opportunity to network with colleagues who can assist you in building your programs and meet new friends that share your interests and love of teaching. Register online today!

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.

Submit Your NGSS Lessons and Units Today!

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

Achieve has launched and is facilitating an EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science–a group of expert reviewers who will evaluate the quality and alignment of lessons and units to the standards–in an effort to identify and shine a spotlight on emerging high-quality lesson and unit plans designed for the NGSS.

If you or your state, district, school, or organization has designed NGSS-aligned instructional materials, please consider submitting these in order to help provide educators across the country with various models and templates of high-quality lesson and unit plans. 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.

Opportunity for High School Students – Los Angeles County

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

An upcoming Perry Outreach Program on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles, CA. The Perry Outreach Program is a free, one-day, hands-on experience for high school and college-aged women who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine and engineering. Students will hear from women leaders in these fields and try it for themselves by performing mock orthopaedic surgeries and biomechanics experiments. 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.

Science Education Policy Update

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

January 2017 has proven to be a very busy month for science education policy and CA NGSS implementation activities. CSTA has been and will be there every step of the way, seeking and enacting all options to support high-quality science education and the successful implementation of CA NGSS.

California Department of Education/U.S. Department of Education Science Double-Testing Waiver Hearing

The year started with California Department of Education’s (CDE) hearing with the U.S. Department of Education conducted via WebEx on January 6, 2017. This hearing was the final step in California’s efforts to secure a waiver from the federal government in order to discontinue administration of the old CST and suspension of the reporting of student test scores on a science assessment for two years. As reported by EdSource, the U.S. Department of Education representative, Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary John King Jr., committed to making her final ruling “very shortly.” Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley presented on behalf of CDE during the hearing and did an excellent job describing the broad-based support for this waiver in California, the rationale for the waiver, and California’s commitment to the successful implementation of a new high-quality science assessment. As previously reported, California is moving forward with its plans to administer a census pilot assessments this spring. The testing window is set to open on March 20, 2017. For more information visit New CA Science Test: What You Should Know.

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

NSTA Los Angeles Conference Features Many CA Science Leaders

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

The early-bird registration rates for the 65th NSTA National Conference on Science Education in Los Angeles is just days away (ends Feb. 3). And as the early-registration deadline approaches excitement is building for what is anticipated to be the largest gathering of science educators (both California and nationwide) – with attendance expected to reach 10,000 or more. If you have never had the pleasure of attending the NSTA National Conference, I recommend you visit their website with tips for newcomers that describe the various components of the event. A conference preview is also available for download. Learn More…

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.