January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

The “S” in STEM: The Search for Science in STEM TK-2

Posted: Friday, December 11th, 2015

by Valerie Joyner

Young children are naturally curious about their world. Their curiosity engages them in science activities every day as they watch salt dissolve, rain fall, or bubbles float and pop. They build ramps and bridges from blocks and cardboard, and contraptions to solve everyday problems that show their innate ability to engage in engineering. This inquisitive nature is the basis for STEM education in our youngest students and builds the foundation for increasingly more complex problem solving as students move through the grades.

Each time you evaluate a possible STEM activity for your class, ask yourself where the science is. We all know NGSS requires us to teach science across the three dimensions, including DCIs (Disciplinary Core Ideas), SEPs (Science and Engineering Practices), and CCCs (Crosscutting Concepts). I recently attended a kindergarten STEM workshop during which the activity demonstrated was presented as a STEM activity related to the science of weather (K-ESS2-1 and K-ESS3-2). I could see this was an interesting and fun activity for kindergarteners, but the level of science the activity was asking the students to reach was beyond that of the kindergarten standards. The activity also lacked integration of SEPs and CCC connections.

It’s easy for primary students to explore, investigate, and engineer on their own. When young students enter school they continue to do so, but now they must begin to learn about the science behind the work they’re doing. In kindergarten, they may play with yo-yos and discover they go up and down. However, the yo-yo can also teach them about the effects of pushes and pulls on an object (K-PS2-1). In 1st grade, they may design a solution to a human problem by mimicking plant and animal external parts, and they must first learn more about the external parts of living things. In 2nd grade, they may explore different materials that shed water as they design a new umbrella or raincoat, and develop their understanding of properties and their intended purposes. It is critical for us as teachers to make sure that the science becomes explicit as children solve engineering problems.

It is never enough to do a STEM activity simply because it’s fun! If a student in 4th or 5th grade makes a rocket and watches it blast off, they have learned to engineer a rocket, but what science did they learn? Is the activity aligned with the NGSS for their grade level? What SEPs and CCCs did they learn?

The same holds true for kindergarten students. The “S” in STEM is there for a reason, to ensure that the science is present as students investigate. A look at the associated SEPs with weather at this level shows they include Analyzing and Interpreting Data and Patterns. What data will students collect, record and share? Will they see patterns over time? How are the K science standards and their associated 3-Dimensions being addressed?

I encourage all primary teachers to look at the STEM activities you are presenting to your students and make sure the science is present and correct in every project and activity. To present a STEM activity that is not aligned with NGSS does our students a disservice. Look at the Performance Expectations and the Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts for your grade level and be sure that each STEM activity/lesson aligns itself with science.

If you have questions or need assistance feel free to contact me.

Resources:
Appendix I: Engineering Design in the NGSS

National Research Council (NRC) 2012. 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.

National Science Foundation. (2010). Preparing the next generation of STEM innovators: Identifying and developing our nation’s human capital. Washington, DC: Author.

Valerie Joyner is a retired elementary science teacher and is CSTA’s Primary (grades K-2) Director.

Written by Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner is a retired elementary science educator and is a member of CSTA.

2 Responses

  1. As a child that great up with a dad that had his Masters in Biology and taught it in high school, I completely agree that students should know the “why.” However, as a first grade teacher, I am struggling with finding workshops, conferences, or other events that target first grade. I usually go to an event very excited and hopeful. However….once I leave I realize most of the topics and demonstrations are not for the younger kiddos. Concrete and kid friendly of what you are talking about would be greatly appreciated. Can you please suggest a few resources that I can access? I am hopeful that my district might be able to support me on this journey, but I am not sure about the financial pocket!

  2. Dear Carole,

    Thank you for leaving your comment. I have a couple of suggestions for you.
    1) Join our Facebook group for elementary science teachers – you will find this group both friendly and resourceful. I believe the group members would be able to help you: https://www.facebook.com/groups/515472468554988/
    2) CSTA offers a primary pathway program at our annual conference. This 6-hour course is designed for TK-2 teachers. Information will be available in June. This year’s event will be held in Sacramento, October 13-15.
    3) Check out these articles from the CA K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative: http://www.classroomscience.org/practical-tools-to-begin-implementing-the-ngss-in-a-first-grade-classroom (email addresses for the teachers who wrote the article are at the bottom of the article, I am sure they would welcome a message from you).
    http://www.classroomscience.org/kindergarten-teachers-take-on-the-next-generation-science-standards-ngss
    http://www.classroomscience.org/second-grade-seed-dispersal-engineers
    http://www.classroomscience.org/sensemaking-notebooks-making-thinking-visible-for-both-students-and-teachers
    4) The CA Science Framework – the second draft is available online, the pre-publication version should be available in the next week or two. http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/sc/cf/
    5) Achieve has released sample bundles for 1st grade: http://www.nextgenscience.org/resources/bundling-ngss. “Bundles” are groups of standards arranged together to create the endpoints for units of instruction. Bundling is just one step in a curriculum development process. Bundling is helpful step in implementing standards because it helps students see connections between concepts and can allow more efficient use of instructional time.

    I will also contact our primary director to see if she has additional suggestions.

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LATEST POST

California Science Test Academy for Educators

Posted: Thursday, February 15th, 2018

California Science Test Academy for Educators

To support implementation of the California Science Test (CAST), the California Department of Education is partnering with Educational Testing Service and WestEd to offer a one-day CAST Academy for local educational agency (LEA) science educators, to be presented at three locations in California from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. As an alternative to traveling, LEA teams can participate virtually via WebEx on one of the dates listed below.

The dates and locations for the CAST Academy are as follows:

  • Monday, April 23, 2018—Sacramento
  • Wednesday, April 25, 2018—Fresno
  • Thursday, April 26, 2018—Irvine

The CAST Academy will help participants develop a deeper understanding of the assessment design and expectations of the CAST. The academy also will provide information and activities designed to assist educators in their implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards and three-dimensional learning to help them gain an understanding of how these new science assessment item types can inform teaching and learning. The CAST Academy dates above are intended for school and district science instructional leaders, including teacher leaders, teacher trainers, and instructional coaches. Additional trainings will be offered at a later date specifically for county staff. In addition, curriculum, professional development, and assessment leaders would benefit from this training.

A $100 registration fee will be charged for each person attending the in-person training. Each virtual team participating via WebEx will be charged $100 for up to 10 participants through one access point. Each workshop will have the capacity to accommodate a maximum of 50 virtual teams. Each virtual team will need to designate a lead, who is responsible for organizing the group locally. Registration and payment must be completed online at http://www.cvent.com/d/6tqg8k.

For more information regarding the CAST Academy, please contact Elizabeth Dilke, Program Coordinator, Educational Testing Service, by phone at 916-403-2407 or by e‑mail at caasppworkshops@ets.org.

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.

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.