May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

UC Museum of Paleontology Wins the Prestigious SPORE Award

Posted: Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

by Judy ScotchmoorUnderstanding Science

[Editor’s note: In our January issue of CCS, CSTA announced that the UC Museum of Paleontology’s Understanding Science and Understanding Evolution websites had been awarded the prestigious Science Prize for Online Resources in Education—the SPORE award.  The following article by the project coordinator (and past CSTA board member), Judy Scotchmoor, describes the background and significance of the two websites.]

The journey for Understanding Evolution (UE) began in 2000 when UCMP hosted the National Conference on the Teaching of Evolution (NCTE) www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/ncte.  Now known as “the conference with legs” due to the ongoing collaborations initiated at that meeting, NCTE brought together more than 45 scientific, educational, and media organizations to discuss how to better support evolution education.  Lack of good teaching resources was one of the identified needs and led to a successful proposal to the National Understanding EvolutionScience Foundation (ESI-0096613) to build a resource for K-12 teachers to increase their content knowledge, confidence, and access to resources that would, in turn, increase their teaching of evolution.  With additional funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the initial site immediately expanded to include materials for K-12 students and the general public and Understanding Evolution launched in 2004.Tibetan sample

Since that time, the site has continued to expand and attract a large, international audience, averaging more than 1.2 million pages accesses each month during the academic year.  Partnerships with other universities have resulted in translations in Spanish, Turkish, and Tibetan (see figures), and others are underway.  We continue to add new features based Turkish sampleupon audience input, offering a monthly feature called Evo in the News, research profiles, case studies, and interactive investigations, all of which help to reinforce the relevance of evolution and the science of evolution.  With an additional NSF grant (DUE-0918741), we are currently undergoing another expansion to provide resources to support undergraduate teaching.   This grant will also allow an Spanish sampleupgrade to our navigation system and access to new resources such as an image library, access to labs using real datasets, and the inclusion of an interactive syllabus that connects instructors to slide sets that encourage the integration of evolution throughout the biology curriculum.

With a focus on evolution education, the journey has not been free of challenges, and during the process, it became increasingly clear to us that some of the confusions about evolution were similar to confusions about climate change, conservation issues, etc.  The problem was really with a poor public understanding of science and how it works – thus the development of Understanding Science (NSF- EAR-0624436), which launched in 2009.  Barely two years old, this site provides resources that shift the paradigm from teaching science as a set of facts or a rigid, linear method to one that better reflects how science is really done.  By focusing on science as a dynamic and iterative process, we hope to better engage students and the general public with science, its relevance to their lives, its importance to society, and ultimately, the realization that evolution is good science.

Much of the success of these sites lies in (1) the active role of teachers (our primary target audience) in their development, (2) a full-team approach, and (3) extraordinary collaborations.  In both cases, we brought together the necessary scientists, science educators, teachers, writers, and Web designers to inform content and design from start to finish.  Through the various phases of development for Understanding Evolution, we have had invaluable input from 40 advisors from 30 institutions representing 14 states.  For Understanding Science, there are 35 advisors from 30 institutions and 14 states.  Project partners have included the National Center for Science Education, the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent), and the American Institute of Biological Sciences.  As a result, this award belongs to a huge number of people, who respond to review requests, check facts, add new ideas, suggest resources, and generally encourage.

UCMP is dedicated to maintaining these important educational resources, which ultimately will contribute to a more scientifically literate society.  We are extremely grateful to those who have offered financial support toward their sustainability.

Check out the Understanding Evolution and Understanding Science websites.  The  Their article on the projects was published in the December 24, 2010 issue of Science and is available online at: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6012/1764.full.

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.

Leave a Reply

LATEST POST

Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HappyAtoms

Please contact Rosanne Luu at rluu@wested.org or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

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.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). 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.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. 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.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the NGSS 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.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.