January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

The California 4-H Science, Engineering, and Technology (SET) Initiative: Using and Informing Best Practices for Science Education in Non-formal Settings

Posted: Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

by Steven Worker, Martin Smith, Andrea Ambrose, and Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty

4-H is the nation’s largest non-formal youth education program. As part of the land-grant university system, 4-H reaches over six million youth annually through science, healthy living, and civic engagement programs. In 2008, 4-H introduced the 4-H Science Mission Mandate to strengthen non-formal science education targeting improved scientific literacy among U.S. youth. This national effort provides strategic direction to state 4-H programs for science programming grounded in a positive youth development framework and utilizing experiential education and inquiry-based learning.

In California, 4-H established the 4-H Science, Engineering, and Technology (SET) Initiative to strengthen efforts around curriculum development, professional development, and research and evaluation.These anchor points are framed around the four essential components of scientific literacy: relevant science content, scientific reasoning abilities, interest and attitudes toward science, and authentic contributions through applied participation.

The principal goal of the California 4-H SET Initiative is to improve youth scientific literacy through effective programming while advancing the research base of non-formal youth science education. To accomplish this, 4-H academic and program staff have identified the need for systematic approaches to the development of programs, professional preparation, curriculum and applied research. Specifically, the California 4-H SET Initiative is focused on the use of strategies to develop, implement, and evaluate curriculum materials and professional development models for adult and teen volunteer educators.

Curriculum Development

The California 4-H approach to curriculum development emphasizes the design and evaluation of needs-based curricula. Curriculum content focuses on environmental, social, and economic issues germane to citizens of California and put forth as strategic initiatives for research and extension by the University of California’s Division of Natural Resources (UC ANR Strategic Vision 2025). Curriculum goals include understanding relevant science content, development of scientific reasoning skills, interest in science, and applied participation in communities.

4-H curricula are designed around the five-step experiential education model (Enfield, Schmitt-McQuitty, & Smith, 2007). Experiential education promotes deep understanding of concepts and application of new knowledge and skills to authentic settings. 4-H curriculum materials accomplish this by engaging youth in community-based service learning projects. Additionally, 4-H curricula promote positive youth development (PYD), an approach to youth programming that encourages long-term life outcomes in young people by fostering caring relationships with peers and adults, healthy behaviors, and leadership development (Campbell et al., 2013; Lerner et al., 2011).

One example of a 4-H curriculum development project that embodies this strategy is Bio-Security in 4-H Animal Science (Smith et al., 2011). Cooperative Extension staff, in collaboration with veterinarians and classroom teachers, developed and tested the curriculum. Subject matter content includes modes of disease transmission, risk assessment, and risk mitigation; activities also provide opportunities for youth to apply new knowledge and skills directly to raising their 4-H project animals. The curriculum evaluation focused on perceived changes in youths’ content knowledge. Outcomes revealed significant (p < .05) improvements in youths’ understanding of science concepts related to bio-security.

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Professional Development

While the development and dissemination of high quality educational materials and curricula are of critical importance, a curriculum is only as good as the educators implementing it. Ensuring educators are prepared in effective science education pedagogy requires educator professional development opportunities that emphasize both science content understanding and pedagogical knowledge and skills. The 4-H Youth Development Program relies heavily on volunteers – adults and teens – who facilitate science activities with youth. While one-time, in-person workshops of short duration educational opportunities represent the most common approach used, these are generally considered to be ineffective because they do not model effective science pedagogy and do not produce significant change in educators’ practice (Guskey & Yoon, 2009). In contrast, California 4-H strives to implement professional development strategies of extended duration that promote active learning, emphasize pedagogical knowledge, are embedded in authentic contexts, and provide connections to broader organizational efforts (Smith, 2013; Smith & Schmitt-McQuitty, 2013).

The “Step-Up” Incremental Training Model (Smith & Enfield, 2002) is one example of a professional development model that utilizes many of the elements described above. Specifically, this model targets 4-H teen volunteers who implement science curriculum materials with younger youth. This strategy employs a sequence of three workshops that engage teen volunteers in modeling hands-on, inquiry-based science activities and practicing effective teaching techniques. The workshops alternate with the implementation of the science curriculum in non-formal education settings; allowing time for activity implementation between workshops provides opportunities for individual and group reflections on practice over a period of several weeks. Research objectives for the “Step-Up” model focused on changes in the teen volunteers’ understanding and use of effective questioning strategies and inquiry teaching methods. Analysis of pre-/post-survey and observational data provided statistically significant (p < .01) evidence that this model was effective in improving teens’ understanding and abilities to use effective questioning strategies and inquiry methods (Smith, Enfield, Meehan, & Klingborg, 2004). Furthermore, the teens were successful in the role of cross-age science teachers. Data on critical thinking skills revealed statistically significant (p < .05) improvements.

Conclusion

The California 4-H SET Initiative is focused on helping improve youth scientific literacy in non-formal settings while contributing to the field of research on non-formal science education. Through integrated efforts that involve research-based practices, California 4-H has built capacity within its organizational structure – county-based 4-H programs throughout the state – to offer effective science programming. These efforts support and complement school-based science education to help youth advance their understanding of and interest in science.

For more information about 4-H and to access 4-H SET curriculum materials, please visit http://4h.ucanr.edu/

 References

Campbell, D., Trzesniewski, K., Nathaniel, K., Enfield, R., & Erbstein, N. (2013). Positive youth development merits state investment. California Agriculture, 67(1), 38-46.

Enfield, R. P., Schmitt-McQuitty, L., & Smith, M. H. (2007). The development and evaluation of experiential learning workshops for 4-H volunteers. Journal of Extension [On-line], 45(1) Article 1FEA2.

Guskey, T. R., & Yoon, K. S. (2009). What works in professional development? Phi Delta Kappan, 90(7), 495-500.

Lerner, R.M., Lerner, J.V., Lewin-Bizan, S., Bowers, E.P., Boyd, M.J., Mueller, M.K., Schmid, K.L., & Napolitano, C.M. (2011). Positive youth development: Processes, programs, and problematics. Journal of Youth Development, 6(3), 40-64

Smith, M. H., & Enfield, R. P. (2002). Training 4-H teen facilitators in inquiry-based science methods: The evaluation of a “step-up” incremental training model. Journal of Extension [On-line], 40(6).

Smith et al., (2011). Bio-Security in 4-H Animal Science. University of California, Davis, CA: ANR Communication Services.

Smith, M. (2013). Findings show lesson study can be an effective model for professional development of 4-H volunteers. California Agriculture, 67(1), 54-61.

Smith, M.H. & Schmitt-McQuitty, L. (2013). More effective professional development can help 4-H volunteers address need for youth scientific literacy. California Agriculture, 67(1), 54-61.

Smith, M. H., & Enfield, R. P. (2002). Training 4-H teen facilitators in inquiry-based science methods: The evaluation of a “step-up” incremental training model. Journal of Extension [On-line], 40(6).

Smith, M. H., Enfield, R. P., Meehan, C. L., & Klingborg, D. J. (2004). Animal ambassadors…4-H teens learn to lead science program for kids. California Agriculture, 58(4): 209-212.

Steven Worker, Martin Smith, Andrea Ambrose, Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty are with the California State 4-H Office at the University of California’s Division of Agricultural and Natural Resources. Steven, Martin, and Lynn are members of CSTA

 

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.

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Accelerating into NGSS – A Statewide Rollout Series Now Accepting Registrations

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Are you feeling behind on the implementation of NGSS? Then Accelerating into NGSS – the Statewide Rollout event – is right for you!

WHO SHOULD ATTEND
If you have not experienced Phases 1-4 of the Statewide Rollout, or are feeling behind with the implementation of NGSS, the Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout will provide you with the greatest hits from Phases 1-4!

OVERVIEW
Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout is a two-day training geared toward grade K-12 academic coaches, administrators, curriculum leads, and teacher leaders. Check-in for the two-day rollout begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast. Sessions run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Day One and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Day Two.

Cost of training is $250 per attendee. Fee includes all materials, continental breakfast, and lunch on both days. It is recommended that districts send teams of four to six, which include at least one administrator. Payment can be made by check or credit card. If paying by check, registration is NOT complete until payment has been received. All payments must be received prior to the Rollout location date you are attending. Paying by credit card secures your seat at time of registration. No purchase orders accepted. No participant cancellation refunds.

For questions or more information, please contact Amy Kennedy at akennedy@sjcoe.net or (209) 468-9027.

REGISTER

http://bit.ly/ACCELERATINGINTONGSS

DATES & LOCATIONS
MARCH 28-29, 2018
Host: San Mateo County Office of Education
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

APRIL 10-11, 2018
Host: Orange County Office of Education
Location: Brandman University, Irvine

MAY 1-2, 2018
Host: Tulare County Office of Education
Location: Tulare County Office of Education, Visalia

MAY 3-4, 2018
Host: San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools
Location: West End Educational Service Center, Rancho Cucamonga

MAY 7-8, 2018
Host: Sacramento County Office of Education
Location: Sacramento County Office of Education Conference Center and David P. Meaney Education Center, Mather

JUNE 14-15, 2018
Host: Imperial County Office of Education
Location: Imperial Valley College, Imperial

Presented by the California Department of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association/County Offices of Education, K-12 Alliance @WestEd, California Science Project, and the California Science Teachers Association.

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.

The Teaching and Learning Collaborative, Reflections from an Administrator

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

by Kelly Patchen

My name is Mrs. Kelly Patchen, and I am proud to be an elementary assistant principal working in the Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) at Louis Bohn and McKinley Elementary Schools. Each of the schools I support are Title I K-5 schools with about 450 students, a diverse student population, a high percentage of English Language Learners, and students living in poverty. We’re also lucky to be part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative with the K-12 Alliance. 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.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

Posted: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

CSTA is pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals for 90-minute workshops and three- and six-hour short courses for the 2018 California Science Education Conference. Workshops and short courses make up the bulk of the content and professional learning opportunities available at the conference. In recognition of their contribution, members who present a workshop or short course receive 50% off of their registration fees. Click for more information regarding proposals, or submit one today by following the links below.

Short Course Proposal

Workshop Proposal 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.

CSTA’s New Administrator Facebook Group Page

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Holly Steele

The California Science Teachers Association’s mission is to promote high-quality science education, and one of the best practice’s we use to fulfill that mission is through the use of our Facebook group pages. CSTA hosts several closed and moderated Facebook group pages for specific grade levels, (Elementary, Middle, and High School), pages for district coaches and science education faculty, and the official CSTA Facebook page. These pages serve as an online resource for teachers and coaches to exchange teaching methods, materials, staying update on science events in California and asking questions. CSTA is happy to announce the creation of a 6th group page called, California Administrators Supporting Science. 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.

Find Your Reason to Engage

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Jill Grace

I was recently reflecting on events in the news and remembered that several years ago, National Public Radio had a story about a man named Stéphane Hessel, a World War II French resistance fighter, Nazi concentration camp survivor, and contributor to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The story focused on a book he had published, Time for Outrage (2010).

In it, Hessel makes the argument that the worst attitude is indifference:

“Who is in charge; who are the decision makers? It’s not always easy to discern. We’re not dealing with a small elite anymore, whose actions we can clearly identify. We are dealing with a vast, interdependent world that is interconnected in unprecedented ways. But there are unbearable things all around us. You have to look for them; search carefully. Open your eyes and you will see. This is what I tell young people: If you spend a little time searching, you will find your reasons to engage. The worst attitude is indifference. ‘There’s nothing I can do; I get by’ – adopting this mindset will deprive you of one of the fundamental qualities of being human: outrage.  Our capacity for protest is indispensable, as is our freedom to engage.”

His words make me take pause when I think of the status of science in the United States. A general “mistrust” of science is increasingly pervasive, as outlined in a New Yorker article from the summer of 2016. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.