May is the month of final exams, AP exams, graduations, and other activities and events associated with the end of the academic year. It is also a month when many of us in the education profession reflect back at the year that was, look forward to the break that is coming, and perhaps even ponder over the next academic year when we will return to do it all over again: for the sake of our students who we all deeply care about. Sometimes during this pondering, you may wonder, “Am I the only one who cares about the quality of education, specially the quality of STEM education, I am providing to my students or does any body else care too?” As you reflect over the past year and gear up during the summer for the next year, let me encourage you by saying that a group of over 280 organizations are with you and supporting you in caring about the quality of STEM education our students receive nationwide.
These organizations care enough to have made very specific commitments toward producing and retaining high quality STEM teachers in schools throughout our nation. They have joined forces together in what is known as the 100Kin10 network. The network was started in 2011 with the specific goal of producing, retaining and developing 100 thousand excellent STEM teachers over a period of 10 years. Organizations who join this network make specific commitments to advance and contribute to this goal and also collaborate to identify and address the “grand challenges” that may hinder the accomplishment of this goal.
During Spring 2015, the CSTL at NAU became a member of the 100Kin10 network to demonstrate our commitment to contribute to the national goal of production, development and retention of excellent STEM teachers. Why? Because we, as a Center, care deeply about the quality and quantity of STEM teachers we are producing through our undergraduate and graduate pre-service teacher education programs, and the quality of professional enhancement we provide to in-service teachers through the variety of professional development programs we offer, including the MAST graduate degree program. We are here to help you continue to provide the highest quality of STEM education to your students. So, I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to check out and take advantage of our various offerings for your continued professional growth and advancement this summer and into the next academic year.
If you are or have been associated with any of our programs as students, participants, donors or in any other capacity, I want to thank you for your participation with us and encourage you by saying that along with us, you are also part of this national network called 100Kin10. Let’s keep working together to provide the best possible STEM education to our students!
2016 President’s Achievement Award
Congratulations to Joëlle Clark, our Associate Director of Professional Development Programs, for being selected for the 2016 President’s Achievement Award, considered the highest staff recognition at Northern Arizona University.
The President’s Achievement Award was established more than 20 years ago to recognize NAU employees whose outstanding performance places them in the top one percent of the employee population. Ten classified staff and service professionals were selected this year for the honor, two from the College of Engineering, Forestry, and Natural Science (CEFNS).
“Joëlle has been an integral part of the Center for Science Teaching and Learning for almost 18 years. Her leadership as a professional development coordinator and now as associate director has garnered incredible respect for our organization throughout the state and the nation as a strong supporter of and advocate for quality science and STEM education. Joëlle is a compassionate colleague and leads by example. I, for one, know I am a better person and professional because of her guidance, leadership and friendship.” – Jane Kirkley
Notes from the Field: Jane Kirkley
As I get ready to retire I have been doing a bit of reflection. So when asked to contribute to this month’s Center for Science Teaching and Learning (CSTL) newsletter I accepted the opportunity to share some thoughts with the CSTL family. Thank you for indulging me.
I have enjoyed a 42 year career as a professional educator; a life with purpose. My chosen career has taken me to places I didn’t expect to experience, allowed me to work with all kinds of people, and enabled me to learn much about myself and others. Sometimes frustrating and challenging, but never boring, teaching has allowed me to use my knowledge, skills and abilities in creative ways to help others grow. Names may be lost now, but not the memory of the many students and the great learning experiences we had together.
I applied my first NAU degree, a B.S.in Art Education, for a short time teaching evening adult art classes. My M.A. in Special Education/ Elementary Education was more useful in gaining full time employment. My teaching career really began as a naïve special education teacher at Keams Canyon, living among the gracious Hopi people. What a learning experience.
A few years later I joined the Williams Unified School District (WUSD) as a special education teacher. I never expected to find myself in a small rural community but it had its advantages. Living and working in Williams has provided a great place to raise a family in a beautiful place. We built a home, a family, a life.
Teaching in a small school allowed for opportunity to change content and/or grade level to fill instructional needs of the district. As a result, my teaching assignments changed over time. What got me through the challenges of the classroom were great mentors, teamwork with my fellow teachers and effective professional learning opportunities. My evolution from art, to special education, to elementary, to middle school science, to master teacher to professional development coordinator involved a variety of learning experiences.
District professional development did not always fit the needs of my evolving teaching expectations. When I needed it most I had very effective professional learning experiences. As a 6th grade teacher I attended Project SMART, Science and Math for Arizona Rural teachers. This Eisenhower funded program, lasting three years, supported me through a dramatic improvement in my science and mathematics instruction. The project transformed me from a teacher, to a science and math teacher, to a science and math teacher-leader.
Project SMART connected me to the Science and Mathematics Learning Center, an early version of the CSTL. These opportunities led to a metamorphosis of the K-8 science program at WUSD.
After retiring from WUSD, I transitioned into a new role as science and math specialist with Coconino County Education Service Agency working on grant funded professional development programs. It was my work at the County on a Mathematics and Science Partnership Grant which led me to my present position at NAU, and the CSTL.
For over 8 years, my position as Professional Development Coordinator at CSTL has been the perfect way to ‘pay it forward’ for all of wonderful and patient mentors I encountered during my long career. It enabled me to apply my varied experiences as a teacher to support novice and veteran teachers as they improve their science and STEM practice. The CSTL has provided me a wonderfully supportive learning environment.
I have enjoyed collaborating with my esteemed colleagues at the CSTL, and with the various content faculty through the College of Engineering, Forestry and Natural Sciences with whom I was privileged to work. To all of my colleagues: carry on with the very important work you do to ensure all students have a well prepared, effective and caring teacher guiding them. To our CSTL students: appreciate and apply the effective preparation your NAUTeach program is providing you, but know you will never stop learning. To all of my district partners and the dedicated teachers with whom I have the pleasure of working, the days are long but the years are short.
Thank you all, I wish you all the best as you continue your very important and purposeful careers.
Professional Development Coordinator
Celebrating the Class of 2016
The graduating class of 2016 from our academic programs at Northern Arizona University will earn their degrees and join the alumni ranks. All the hard work, dedication and drive will be realized. This is an exciting, transformational time in their lives and we’re confident they will face the future prepared to be excellent math and science teachers.
Our undergraduate program, NAUTeach, earns students a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education in science or mathematics. We are one of the nationwide universities implementing the highly successful UTeach program. The UTeach Class of 2016 is comprised of 44 universities preparing over 6000 STEM teachers.
One of our NAUTeach undergraduate program students, Cathleen Goodell, reflected on her education as she is about to graduate:
“NAUTeach has helped me prepare to be a math teacher by providing hands-on, teaching experience from the first TSM [Teaching Science & Math] class. We are prepared for major issues such as classroom management and equity as well as thorough paperwork required for certification. I really appreciate the rigorous coursework combined with guided support that challenged and developed us to be proficient teachers.
I don’t expect to change the world overnight or alone, but I hope to bring excitement and fun into the math classroom. My goal is to change the perspective of math from “hard and boring” to “challenging, but fun!” My students will see the relevancy of mathematics in their everyday interactions and understand that problem solving applies to every aspect of life.”
Our Master of Arts in Science Teaching (MAST), a continuing education graduate program designed to meet the needs of professional science educators, is also celebrating graduates this term.
One of our graduating MAST students, Heather Orozco, who teaches 8th grade science in Buckeye, AZ, shares this about her experience:
“The MAST program allows teachers to develop specific skills for teaching science. Everything I learned I was able to immediately use in my classroom. In the past, science has not been a priority in my district; reading, writing, and math were the focus. My thesis project was to create a professional development for teachers to incorporate trade books into their classes, so they could focus on the reading strategies, but also science content.”
This is an exciting time of year, and I hope you will join me in commending our students for their achievements, along with congratulating our own Sharon Cardenas, Associate Director of Academic Degree Programs, who is graduating with a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree.
CSTL Seminar Series in STEM Education
Our second seminar in the series took place on May 6. We were pleased to host Dr. Christine Cunningham, Founder and Director of the Engineering is Elementary program at the Museum of Science in Boston.
Dr. Cunningham educated us on why all kids should study engineering, even before they can spell. State and national science standards increasingly emphasize engineering concepts and skills as part of K-12 STEM instruction. The presentation used a striking collection of candid short videos shot in classrooms around the country to show what engineering looks like at the elementary level, and how classroom engineering develops positive “habits of mind” that can support young students’ academic success in other subjects. Pedagogical strategies that teachers can use to support the development of robust engineering experiences for children were also presented, along with research results showing that classroom engineering activities successfully engage diverse students in science and engineering learning.
If you missed the seminar, the recording is available on YouTube.
Teachers and Principals Together
A Team Approach to Implementing Arizona’s College and Career-Ready Standards (AZCCRS) in Mathematics and the Vision of Effective Science Education as Outlined in A Framework for K-12 Science Education
“Teachers and Principals Together” is a leadership development project, funded by an Improving Teacher Quality (ITQ) grant administered by the Arizona Board of Regents. The Center for Science Teaching and Learning (CSTL) collaborated with the department of Educational Leadership in the NAU College of Education and Flagstaff Unified School District (FUSD) in Spring 2015 to develop this grant proposal. The project was funded and has involved teacher and principal teams from 11 schools over the past academic year. The grant funded component of the project will culminate with a summer institute for the teacher-principal teams on June 2 – 3, 2016.
The primary goal of the project was to increase the instructional leadership capacity of principals/assistant principals and teacher leaders to successfully implement Arizona’s College and Career-Ready Standards (AZCCRS) in mathematics and the vision of effective science education as outlined in A Framework for K-12 Science Education (the Framework).
The CSTL Professional Development team has been responsible for providing the expertise and facilitating learning and leadership development around an understanding of the vision of the Framework. In other words, the CSTL has been involved in the science education component of this project. This work has focused on the elementary grade levels.The learning sessions during the past year were designed to help participating teacher-principal teams develop their own understanding to the level that they can then coach other teachers in their schools to understand and implement the vision of effective science education as outlined in the Framework, provide enhanced formative feedback and constructive evaluation of science instruction based on the vision of the Framework, and model effective instructional leadership for other aspiring and practicing school leaders. To this end, the participating teams will develop and refine specific action plans by the end of the summer institute in June, to begin implementing during the upcoming academic year (2016–17).
Outstanding Achievement and Contribution Award
Congratulations to Nena Bloom, Evaluation Coordinator for our Program Evaluation and Assessment team. As a member of the NSF Advance Institutional Transformation proposal team, she was honored at the 10th Annual Diversity and Equity Awards on behalf of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) of Northern Arizona University. The team was selected for a CSW Outstanding Achievement and Contribution Award. This award honors Northern Arizona University faculty, staff or students and organizations or community members who have made outstanding contributions to women’s leadership development and towards advancing the status of women at Northern Arizona University.
The award was given at the President’s Annual Diversity and Equity Awards Dinner on April 27 at the High Country Conference Center.
STEM Teaching Practices Shape Classrooms in India
Max Dass, our director, is helping strengthen STEM education programs at his teaching alma mater and the oldest international school in Asia.
NAU News published a story in March about his work with the Woodstock School.
Max also reflected on his first visit there in November 2015 in Dass’s Doodles from our Winter 2016 newsletter.
NSTA/ASTA Student Chapter
This spring, the NAU student chapter for the National Science Teachers Association and the Arizona Science Teachers Association was formed.
Their vision is to foster a community of empowered future science educators. The mission of the student group is to provide a space for future science teachers to gain experience and professional development while building a positive community within CSTL.
Host discussions with guest speakers
Facilitate conversations about science and science education
Analyze and interpret article readings
Participate in state and national education conferences
Benefits for members:
Meet and befriend like-minded individuals
Build your resume
Free NSTA education journal subscription for 1 year
We are pleased to welcome this new student group and thank Brooke Whitworth, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Science Education, for being the Faculty Advisor. For more information, contact Brooke.
PLANETS Program Update
April 12th-14th, 2016 – The Center for Science Teaching and Learning (CSTL) partnered with AZ Center for After School Excellence to work with Arizona’s Out-of-School Time (OST) educators. We facilitated three workshops that focused on bringing STEM into OST programs with the Engineering Adventures: Sky’s the Limit Unit. Educators engineered towers and built flying technologies while exploring the resources and benefits of providing strong STEM activities and the Engineering is Elementary® (EiE) OST curriculum to their kids. These elementary and middle school OST materials are free for download at www.EiE.org.
This opportunity was one component of our recently funded NASA project called PLANETS (Planetary Learning that Advances the Nexus of Engineering, Technology, and Science). The CSTL and the NAU NASA Space grant are partnering with the Museum of Science Boston, the USGS Astrogeology Center, Flagstaff STEM City, and Out-of-School Time partners like AZ CASE to help youth explore planetary science. The project includes the design of new EiE elementary and middle school OST curriculum for planetary science and engineering along with a suite of professional development resources for OST educators. Please contact us if you are interested in the development and pilot-testing of these new materials.
Follow this project on Twitter: @PLANETSTEM.
Careers in Education Symposium
On April 1, we co-hosted the Careers in Education Symposium with NAU’s Career Development team at University College. The event followed the There’s a Reason Why I’m a Teacher Conference. This successful symposium had an estimated 100 students participating in resume and interview workshops and a panel discussion with educators from across the state.
POD Program Update
Educational researchers, geospatial technology experts, and geologists developed the successful POD teacher professional development model in 2009. We have examined the model to identify key elements that led to success. Armed with this knowledge, a Facilitation Academy, resources, and living facilitation guide for teacher educators were developed. These resources will enable teacher educators in any discipline to replicate POD Workshops in their local areas, resulting in more technology enhanced geospatial inquiry opportunities in secondary classrooms. The team will examine each level of implementation from teacher educators, to classroom teachers, to students. Student STEM career awareness and interest data from approximately 27,000 students will be analyzed.
We are excited to announce we have invited teacher educators to join us for the first POD Facilitation Academy at the state-of-the-art NAU Cline Library Learning Studio July 11-15, 2016.
An outstanding pool of candidates applied for the available positions. This did not make our decision easy! We look forward to learning as much from the Teacher Educators as we hope they will learn from us.
Our first POD Teacher Educators are:
Ina Ahern, Plymouth Regional High School, NH
Janey Camp, Vanderbilt University, TN
Shireen DeSouza, Ball State University, IN
Bruce Fink, Kaskaskia College, IL
Carla Hester-Croff, Western Wyoming Community College, WY
Melissa McGehee, Arizona State University, AZ
Robert McGehee, Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives at Arizona State University, AZ
Audrey Mohan, Biological Science Curriculum Study (BSCS), CO
Katrina Patton, Western Wyoming Community College, WY
Eric Proctor, Arizona Game and Fish Department, AZ
Kevin Stilwell, Southwest Virginia Community College, VA
Lisa Wininger, Plainwell Middle School, MI
Robert Woolner, Hopkinton Middle High School/SAU66, NH
Recent Grant Awards
We are happy to announce that we have been awarded two new grants from the Arizona Department of Education Mathematics and Science Partnership Competitive Grant Program for the following successful proposals:
Kesler, K. (PI). Physics of Force and Motion: Integrating STEM into the K-8 Classroom. Arizona Department of Education Mathematics and Science Partnership Competitive Grant Program, NAU Award #16-0268, February 2016-June 2017.
The Physics of Force and Motion; Integrating STEM into the K-8 Classroom course will be delivered through a partnership between Coconino County Education Services Agency (CCESA); Northern Arizona University (NAU) Department of Physics and Astronomy; The Center for Science Teaching and Learning; Southwest Evaluation Research; and multiple schools from the three counties (Coconino, Yavapai, Yuma) including 20 public elementary schools, eight public middle schools, 3 K-8 charter schools, and 1 public K-8 school. At this time we have recruited 95 teachers from 32 schools and 14 districts to participate in the proposed project. We estimate that 2,340 students will be served.
The overarching purpose of the Physics of Force and Motion; Integrating STEM into the K-8 Classroom project is to increase K-8 teachers’ level of preparedness in teaching STEM, enhance student academic achievement in STEM, and build capacity in Northern Arizona to support continued efforts in STEM education.
Kirkley, J. K. (PI), Whitworth, B. A. (Co-PI), & Dolle, E.M. (Co-PI). Alliance for Investigating Motion, Force, and Energy (AIMFE). Arizona Department of Education Mathematics and Science Partnership Competitive Grant Program, February 2016–June 2017.
Peoria Unified School District as LEA, in partnership with Northern Arizona University (NAU), Dysart Unified School District, and Glendale Union High School District, was awarded a 15 months Mathematics and Science Partnership Grant from Arizona Department of Education for the 2016/2017 school years. The project is designed to improve physical science content and pedagogical content knowledge for 6-12 teachers. The Alliance for Investigating Motion, Force and Energy (AIMFE) project will include the Making Sense of Science Force and Motion and Energy courses developed by WestEd. Additional content will support teacher understanding of 3-Dimensional instruction aligned with the vision of A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Professional development will be designed around the driving question, “What is the relationship between forces, motion and energy within systems?” Seventy teachers have been recruited to participant in the two week June 2016 summer institute and three follow-up sessions through the academic year.
Engineering is Elementary Teacher Educator Institute
August 23-25, 2016 | Gilbert, AZ
This three-day professional learning session prepares you to facilitate Engineering is Elementary (EiE) professional development workshops for teachers in your school, district, or state.
The Teacher Educator Institute (TEI) is hands-on and learner-driven. You’ll develop a deep understanding of the pedagogy and structure of the EiE curriculum. And you’ll take away a large collection of valuable resources to help you facilitate your own EiE workshops.
During this workshop, you will:
Experience two different EiE units as a learner and as a teacher—The Best of Bugs: Designing Hand Pollinators and The Attraction is Obvious: Designing Maglev Systems.
Become familiar with the EiE curriculum, including the structure of the units and the pedagogical approach.
Gain foundational knowledge of technology, engineering, and the engineering design process.
Reflect on the strategies used by your workshop facilitators and the philosophical underpinnings of the EiE curriculum.
EiE’s Teacher Educator Institute prepares educators to:
Facilitate immersive, active EiE workshops for teachers.
Convey the core values and core understandings of the EiE curriculum.
Educate others about the structure, components, and pedagogy of the EiE curriculum.
Registration deadline is 08/09/16.
Online registration for the Teacher Educator Institute is available.
Flagstaff Community STEM Celebration
We were honored to be a part of the Third Annual event at NAU’s Skydome on March 7 and to be nominated as a STEM Community Partner of the Year for 2015-2016. For more information about the event, visit STEM City’s webpage, and for a full list of STEM nominees.
Hope we inspired some scientists and STEM teachers!
Emily Evans and Sean Ryan
We are pleased to introduce you to our two newest team members.
Emily Evans, Professional Development Associate, and Sean Ryan, Professional Development Associate, both joined our Professional Development Team in January.
Emily Evans, Professional Development Associate
I have focused on work that endeavors to increase learner’s confidence and competence in engaging in scientific practice, understanding the science concepts underlying that practice, and making informed science-based decisions. My research has predominantly focused on environmental science education and the interplay between structured formal learning contexts and more self-directed and informal learning experiences.
Currently, my work at the CSTL focuses on the development and implementation of science and STEM professional learning opportunities for teachers and teacher educators. In partnership with the Coconino County Education Service Agency and funded through a Math Science Partnership Grant, we are working to provide a professional learning program for K-8 teachers across northern and southern Arizona that supports effective implementation of science and STEM in the classroom. I have also joined the team of educators and scientists working on the Power of Data (POD) project, an NSF-funded project. The goal of the POD program is to increase teacher and student use of geospatial technologies and spatial thinking skills.
For more information about my work, visit my bio page on the CSTL website.
When not at work, I enjoy spending time outside on trails and at lakes, rivers, and the ocean. I moved to Flagstaff in 2012 and look forward to many more years enjoying all that this community and region have to offer.
Sean Ryan, Professional Development Associate
I came to the CSTL after teaching 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade at DeMiguel Elementary School in the Flagstaff Unified School District. DeMiguel is where I went to school for 6th grade, played basketball every day after school with friends, and found my opportunity to bring science education into the elementary school classroom. I led the design and development of the science fair and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) programs and clubs while teaching all subjects in those grade levels. I plan to continue to volunteer at DeMiguel, my local neighborhood school, to support the great programs and projects they are providing for students. At times it has been tough to have left that environment, and I miss the opportunity to make moments that shine in my students’ lives, but I know that there are wonderful teachers who will help them as they grow. I now get to focus my efforts on supporting those teachers to bring the best content and pedagogy for science education K-12 and beyond. I am excited to know that for each teacher that I inspire to become an excellent science educator through my work at CSTL, hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of students will benefit and be inspired to create, innovate, explore, and grow through science. The more that I learned about the Center the more I knew that this was a natural fit that gave me the opportunity to continue to expand and pursue my vision of bringing quality science education to the children of our community.
I have been humbled and honored through several awards and nominations for my teaching in science and STEM education. My peers, administrators, and community members have nominated me for the Flag City STEM Teacher of the Year, Viola Awards Science Educator of the Year, and I was selected as a Coconino County Teacher of the Year: Ambassador of Excellence in 2015, the Flagstaff Veterans of Foreign Wars Teacher of the Year in 2014, and the Air Force Academy, Prescott Chapter, Teacher of the Year in 2016. I greatly appreciate all of the support, mentorship, and wonderful relationships that I have received and been a part of as a teacher in Flagstaff, Arizona!
In addition to teaching and designing professional development programs, I am a proud father and husband. My daughters are 2 years old and 3 months old, respectively, and they show me first-hand what it is like to learn about the world around us. I am also an endurance athlete, triathlon race director for Mountain Man Events, LLC, and enjoy volunteering for local racing and science community programs. I especially love spending time with my family and friends, hiking, and playing sports.
It is with a heavy heart that we bid farewell to our student worker, Danielle Ridgell-Perry. We send her off on a new adventure: to the classroom to teach Earth Science at Coconino High School! Her journey through student teaching will be an exciting one and we cannot wait to hear about the many young lives she will touch through her teaching.
Danielle was an invaluable part of our main office team over the past year and a half, as well as a student in our NAUTeach program and a recipient of the Noyce Scholarship. She always had a smile on her face and a willing attitude. While we could not hope to replace her, she helped train her successor, Sarah Brzeczek.
Danielle, we know you will make as big of an impact in the classroom as you have here in the Center. We look forward to seeing you at our future Professional Development learning opportunities!