Teachers learn new style of sharing science with students

Greg Brown had been teaching science in the Bay Area for years when the idea came to him for a new style of teaching the subject.

Why not take classic science activities and add a twist — starting with exploration?

“Rather than telling it, let kids find out for themselves,” said Brown, whose colleagues describe as a local legend in STEM education. “A great thing about this new teaching style, you treat everything like a beta test.”

Well, the Next Generation Science Standards beat him to it, but his friend Kevin Brumbaugh from the Krause Center for Innovation at Foothill College was wondering how teachers were going to learn to implement the NGSS — the new method for teaching science hands-on.

From that interaction, MADE:Science was born.

With the help of Google classroom tech expert Rachel Freed, Brown — who has a background in engineering — and Brumbaugh designed the program.

Freed explained the program applies tech and mobile apps to enhance the hands-on learning, using slow motion technology and measuring devices to interpret trajectory and visualize testing.

Click here to read the full story in the Mercury News (August 1, 2017)

The Next Generation Science Standards’ next big challenge: Finding curricula

As states wrestle with putting the Next Generation Science Standards into action, one question I’m hearing more and more: What to do about curriculum?

It’s also a question that’s been on the mind of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, which provided major support to the groups that developed the framework and standards that evolved into the NGSS. Earlier this year, it convened a group of curriculum experts, many of whom worked on curricula development for groups like the National Science Foundation. This week they’re putting out a summary report on what they found (posted here for free download).

In the meantime, I spoke with Jim Short, a program director at Carnegie, about what he (and the conveners) concluded some of the major challenges are in developing strong curricula aligned to the standards. They fall into several different buckets.

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia, along with dozens of individual school districts, have adopted the standards, which put a heavy emphasis on engineering and having students apply their scientific knowledge, among other things. (If you’re just new to the NGSS, get up to speed with my colleague Liana Loewus’ great explainer on the topic.)

Click here to read the full blog by Stephen Sawchuk in Ed Week (July 24, 2017) registration required

Michigan teachers helping transform middle school science ed

Five area science teachers are among a select group of educators crafting the future of middle school science education through the Michigan Science Teaching and Assessment Reform project.

More than two dozen teachers from around the state are attending curriculum development workshops this summer in Midland, Clinton Township, Grand Rapids, Mount Pleasant and Houghton. With scientists, engineers and curriculum developers, they are creating a radically new science curriculum for grades 6-8 that meets the new Michigan Science Standards, which call for students to learn by thinking and acting like scientists and engineers.

Click here to read the full story in the Midland Daily News (July 24, 2017)

New science standards stoke exploration, discovery

As the Del Mar Union School District board learned about the new Next Generation Science Standards on June 28, district science specialists challenged them with a science experiment. Board members and district staff, including Superintendent Holly McClurg, donned safety goggles and got to work in pairs.

Through the lesson, they learned what the Next Generation Science Standards promotes — instead of teachers telling students what to do, the students lead their own exploration, look closely and make discoveries and conclusions on their own.

As explained by district science specialists Stacie Waters and Nancy Swanberg, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were developed by the states to improve science instruction and were adopted in September 2013. Since the adoption, district science specialists have been working toward the full implementation in 2018.

Click here to read the full story in the Del Mar Times (July 5, 2017)

Science is for kids

Proponents says Next Generation Science Standards will better prepare today’s workforce

Children at River Oaks Elementary School in Galt are more than just students. They’re scientists in the classroom and they do what scientists do — observe, ask questions, identify problems, gather data, analyze it and apply this knowledge in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to the real world.

Galt Joint Union Elementary School District is one of eight traditional districts and two charter management organizations selected to participate in California’s early implementation Initiative for K-8 of the Next Generation Science Standards. The four-year initiative launched in 2014 to cultivate teacher development, best practices and solutions in preparation for full implementation in all California districts by 2019, explains Kathy DiRanna, statewide director of WestEd’s K-12 Alliance, headquartered in San Francisco.

The new standards are designed to provide all students with a robust STEM education that includes an understanding of content and develops core competencies — communication, collaboration, inquiry, problem solving and flexibility — that will serve them throughout their educational and professional lives, and pave the way for increased innovation and economic growth.

Click here to read the full story in Comstocks Magazine (June 21, 2017)


Santa Clarita Valley teachers study California’s newest science standards

Teachers from the Santa Clarita Valley’s four elementary school districts are spending their summer vacations studying the state’s Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) during a three-day outreach training session at College of the Canyons.

“My biggest hope is from coming to these trainings is that we can remove some of the fear of doing science with the kids,” said Teresa Ciardi, chair of COC’s Earth Space and Environmental Sciences department who led the training session.

The NGSS standards were adopted by the State Board of Education in September 2013.  Since their adoption, school districts throughout the state have slowly begun implementing the standards before they fully take effect in the 2018-19 schoolyear.

With the NGSS, students are taught science and engineering concepts through three dimensions of science learning and grade-level aligned standards.  Overall, the dimensions work together to create an in-depth understanding of concepts while encouraging communication, collaboration and problem solving.

Click here to read the full story in the Santa Clarita Valley Signal (June 20, 2017)

Columbia teachers among thousands to receive anti-climate change materials

Columbia Public Schools science teachers are among hundreds of thousands across the country who have received a book from the Heartland Institute that denies that Earth is warming and that human activity is causing it.

Although 97 percent of scientists agree that global warming is caused largely by human activities, The Heartland Institute and its publications argue differently. Those arguments are central to the book the organization sent out starting last spring.

How climate change is taught

Up until about a year ago, the Columbia Public Schools curriculum on climate change used to be only about weather.

“It’s completely the opposite now,” said Mike Szydlowski, science coordinator for the Columbia Public Schools district.

Three years ago, the schools adopted the Next Generation Science Standards, which state that human activities are largely responsible for global warming and that global warming and climate change is real and requires solutions to reduce human impact on the earth. The state of Missouri adopted the standards as recently as a year ago.

“We didn’t want to wait for Missouri,” Szydlowski said. “We took a leap of faith.”

Columbia Public Schools revises its curriculum every seven years while the state undertakes revisions about every 15 years. Szydlowski said he thinks the schools will retain Next Generation Science for another six to seven years because of how good it is.

Climate change and global warming are introduced to fifth-graders and taught more comprehensively to seventh-graders, he said.

Click here to read the full story in the Missourian (June 16, 2017) Missourian




Iowa Teaching Standards Don’t Say Humans Cause Climate Change, But…

At first, people who reject predominant scientific findings that humans are the main cause of climate change may be glad that new public-school science standards don’t require teachers to teach that. But if inquiry-based teaching guides under development in the Iowa K-12 Climate Science Education Initiative are used, students may reach that determination on their own, educators say.

Click here to read the full article in the Des Moines Register (June 9, 2017)

Climate change in schools where it’s ‘fake news’

Eric Madrid teaches advanced sciences, including topics on climate change and evolution, to high school students in the deep-red Texas Hill Country.

As one might expect in this conservative bastion of the nation, some of the students say it’s all lies or fake news.

“But that’s usually in the beginning of the semester,” said Madrid, who left a Ph.D.-level research gig to go into public education. “As I show them data and evidence, that tends to go away.”

In fact, Madrid isn’t so worried about his students. It’s the other teachers who concern him: “I get much more pushback from other teachers than students. Adults have already pretty much made up their minds, and we also don’t have the time to sit down and discuss the issues.”

Nationally, there continue to be tensions surrounding climate change, with the Trump administration expressing doubts about its validity and seeking cuts in climate research programs. This conflict has trickled down to the state level too — even in the schools.

A bill in the Texas House of Representatives would allow science teachers to teach “the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories,” namely theories around subjects such as climate change, evolution, the origins of life and cloning.

The Texas measure mirrors efforts in Idaho and West Virginia, where objections to the inclusion of climate change in state education standards have met with varying degrees of success. There is also a bill in Florida that would make it easier for residents to challenge school textbooks, including those that discuss topics such as climate change and evolution.

This year, 11 bills designed to alter science education standards have been unsuccessfully introduced across the United States, by sponsors who perhaps have been encouraged by the Trump administration’s stance on climate change.

Meanwhile, 18 states and the District of Columbia have approved the Next Generation Science Standards, which were developed with the help of several national science organizations and unveiled in 2013.

“When we do climate science sessions at our conferences, it’s standing-room only,” Evans said. “Teachers are anxious to learn the science so that they can take it to their kids.”

Click here to read the full article on CNN (June 14, 2017)



Public Input Sought on Nebraska Science Standards

The Nebraska Department of Education says proposed Science Standards are a change in thinking.

The department is in the process of updating the standards right now.

What’s proposed focuses more on asking students to “think like a scientist” rather than memorize content.

State education leaders say the standards were written by 50 science educators from across Nebraska.

Now, they’re asking the public to weigh in on a survey. Questions ask you if you’re a member of the public, an educator, parent, student or college representative.

Sara Cooper, with the Nebraska Department of Education, said a big difference is that science content and analyst and research would no longer be separate standards.

To voice your opinion, click here.

Click here to listen to the news segment on NTV.com (June 2, 2017)