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.
Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
by Jessica Sawko
In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.
At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/infomeeting.asp.) Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
by Carol Peterson
1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!
Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award
The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?
The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt
Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…