January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

Teaching STEM with Little to No Budget

Posted: Monday, November 4th, 2013

by Jeanine Wulfenstein

Have you found yourself being asked to implement STEM practices into your curriculum with little to no funding?  Are you confused about what STEM is, or what teaching STEM really means?  You are not alone!  Many teachers across California and the nation are being asked to teach STEM without much background, support, training, or funding.  

I would argue that the most important part of STEM is the “S” for “science.”  After all, the science is the conduit for which the technology, engineering, and math are incorporated.  As science teachers we should embrace STEM education and promote best teaching practices that go along with it.  Many scientific principles are best taught through authentic experiences.  STEM is a great way to accomplish this!

Students building a table out of chipboard and newspaper.

Students building a table out of chipboard and newspaper.

Many teachers unfortunately find themselves being asked to teach STEM with little to no funding. Most of us know that there are an abundance of grants out there focused on STEM education. However, grant writing is an art in and of itself, and can be a time consuming process. So, what is a teacher to do in the meantime?  A teacher must get creative!

I have found myself in this exact situation: without funding to afford expensive kits, robotics components, and consumable supplies, I have been forced to try a different approach to teaching STEM.   From my experience, I recommend using recycled materials to turn our discards into a learning experience for all.  Many principles used in science and building can be recreated using recycled materials.  Students in my classroom have launched rockets, designed and built catapults, cars, and created helmets to more effectively protect the head.  All of these were created out of recycled items like newspaper, chipboard from cereal boxes, egg crates, etc.  We have also used recycled materials to build tables, taking into account the forces of compression, tension, gravity, torque, etc.   The possibilities for teaching science are endless when we think differently about what is required to bring these concepts to life for students.

There are many free resources available to help us use recycled materials to teach STEM.  The PBS series, “Design Squad,“ has a website devoted to supporting teachers in using recycled materials to teach principles of science, engineering and design.   All of the resources on their site are free to use and are easy to implement.  To access these materials go to http://pbskids.org/designsquad/.

Additional free resources range from flight design with NASA at http://futureflight.arc.nasa.gov/  to the National Institutes of Health http://science.education.nih.gov/customers.nsf/WebPages/CSHome.  If you are looking to infuse your current curriculum with additional STEM activities, I encourage you to review these, collect recycled supplies, and jump in to incorporate STEM experiences appropriate to your content area.  You will be amazed by the robust conversations your students will have, what your students will produce, and the learning your students will demonstrate!

Written by Jeanine Wulfenstein

Jeanine Wulfenstein

Jeanine Wulfenstein teaches science at Gardner Middle School and is the CSTA Treasurer. You can reach her by emailing jwulfenstein@tvusd.k12.ca.us.

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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.