The Beauty and Wonder of Science
Posted: Thursday, January 14th, 2016
by Lisa Hegdahl
“The overarching goal of our framework for K-12 science education is to ensure that by the end of 12th grade, all students have some appreciation of the beauty and wonder of science …”
A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas*
In 1985, I graduated from the University of California at Davis, with a Bachelor of Science in Zoology. In 1991, I began teaching 8th grade science in Galt, where our school’s science department determined the topics I taught which, for 7 years, were genetics, sound, astronomy, and body systems. In 1998, the CA Science Content Standards arrived and the 8th grade science curriculum became exclusively physical science – physics, astronomy, and chemistry – a far cry from my Zoological roots. As are many of you, I am now in the process of transitioning to the CA Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS) 6-8 Integrated Model which means, once again, changing the core ideas I teach my 8th graders. Instead of strictly physical science, I will now teach Integrated Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Physical Science (along with the Science and Engineering Practices, SEPs, and the Crosscutting Concepts, CCCs). In the last year and a half, as a teacher in one of the CA NGSS Early Implementation districts, I have jumped into teaching multiple core ideas that I have never taught before. This has made it necessary for me to not just learn these subjects, but by the very nature of NGSS, to immerse myself in them at a deep, comprehensive, and exhaustive level. A great deal of work to be sure. However, during this process, something remarkable has happened – I have re-discovered the beauty and wonder of science.
Over the holidays, I traveled with my husband, Tom, from Lodi to southern California to enjoy Christmas with my family. While driving along the coast, a drive we have made countless times, I found myself studying the rock layers in the road cuts – the folds, fractures, and angles within. I contemplated the millions of years it took for these formations to arrive where they rest now. I saw the coastline with the great Pacific Ocean stretching for miles beyond my view and I considered the end of the continental shelf and how Alfred Wegener proposed that the continents were once all connected. As I sat down to finally finish a book that I have been ‘reading’ for the past 4 months, I put on my reading glasses and reflected on how, due to age, the lenses in my eyes no longer adjust to allow for the correct focal length needed for me to see the pages clearly. As I watched the sun ‘go down’ over the bay at Morro Rock, I speculated about where it was now shining. All of these musings simply because I have been diving deeply, as never before, into scientific topics.
As a result (cause and effect perhaps) another realization has manifested itself – while I was initially concerned that I don’t have the necessary knowledge base to teach some of the new 8th grade NGSS core ideas, the preparation that it requires to develop background knowledge, re-ignited my passion for science. Because NGSS asks teachers and students to approach science as scientists, we are experiencing the stories of those who asked the questions, tried and failed before achieving success, and often faced the ridicule of respected colleagues. I’d like to think I have always looked at the world as a scientist and marveled at its complexity (and simplicity), but the more deeply I engage in the NGSS 3 dimensional process, the more I realize how much there is to learn and how amazing is the world in which we live.
As we enter 2016, I challenge all of us to re-discover the beauty and wonder of science. Let’s not look at the conceptual shifts required by the NGSS with concern, but as opportunities to explore the fascinating world around us and see it through fresh eyes, as did the scientists who came before us. Passion for science is contagious; so take opportunities in the New Year to collaborate with colleagues at your school site, at the CA NGSS Rollout Phase 3 Symposia, and at the 2016 California Science Education Conference. Passing on this appreciation for science to our students will better equip them for their futures and, just perhaps, make a holiday drive down the coast, a fascinating one.
*National Research Council. (2011). A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Committee on a Conceptual Framework for New K-12 Science Education Standards. Board on Science Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press
Posted: Monday, March 27th, 2017
The California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) stands with our science and science education colleagues in endorsing the March For Science and its associated activities.
The decision by the CSTA Board of Directors to support the March for Science was based on the understanding that this is an opportunity to advocate for our mission of high quality science education for all and to advance the idea that science has application to everyday life, is a vehicle for lifelong learning, and the scientific enterprise expands our knowledge of the world around us. The principles and goals of the March for Science parallel those of CSTA to assume a leadership role in solidarity with our colleagues in science and science education and create an understanding of the value of science in the greater community. CSTA believes that the integrity of the nature of science and that the work of scientists and science educators should be valued and supported. We encourage your participation to stand with us.
There are over 30 satellite marches planned for the April 22, 2017 March for Science in California (to find a march near you, click on “marches” in the upper right of the main page, select “satellite marches” and use the search feature). We encourage members who participate in the March for Science to share their involvement and promotion of science and science education. Feel free to promote CSTA on your signs and banners. For those on social media, you may share your involvement via Twitter, @cascience and our Facebook groups.
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…