May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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 a past-president of CSTA.

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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

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: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.