Recently I had the opportunity to attend the 2017 Leadership Summit of the National Science Education Leadership Association (NSELA) held in conjunction with the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) annual national conference in Los Angeles, CA. Dr. Drew Westen of Emory University, one of the keynote speakers at the NSELA summit, talked about (and challenged us to think about) how the impact of a message depends on the design and delivery of the message. Every message activates certain neural networks in our brains and the impact of the message depends on which specific neural networks got activated. That, in turn, depends on how the message was designed and delivered.
So, why is this important to us, science teachers and science educators? Because we are continually in the business of delivering messages: In the form of lessons we teach in our classes; communication with our administrators; communication with the parents of our students; communication with members of the local communities in which we live; and communication with our elected officials. No matter what the message and which audience we are communicating with, here are three key principles, according to Dr. Westen, that can help us get the desired impact of our message on our audiences.
Tell a coherent story
The structure of an effective message includes connecting with the audience; raising concerns that the audience will see as important; and then ending with one or more hopeful solutions that appear plausible to the audience to address those concerns. An important feature of a coherent story messaging is “inclusiveness” in language, etc., so that the message can connect with all types/groups of people in a given audience.
If you can’t Feel it, don’t Use it
Try for your message to get to the ‘gut’ first; the brain will follow. In other words, get your audience to feel first before trying to get them to understand. Human behavior is generally more motivated by emotion than by intellect. If you can invoke the right emotions, your message is much more likely to be accepted and acted upon.
Know what neural networks your message is activating
In other words, try to anticipate what prior experiences, background, knowledge, sentiments, etc., your audience might have that would relate to the topic of your message. Then design your message to connect with those experiences, sentiments, etc. The more positive neural networks your message activates, the more close to the ‘gut’ your message will hit and, consequently, the more desirable impact it might result in.
Let’s all work on honing the art of effective messaging so that we keep on increasing the impact of our work as science teachers, educators and leaders.
April 14: CSTL Seminar Series in STEM Education
10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Science and Health Building, Room 512
NAU main campus
For our next seminar in the series we are pleased to present Dr. Bill Penuel, who will be presenting Building capacity through developing and supporting new curriculum materials in a research-practice partnership.
This presentation examines research jointly conducted between researchers and practitioners that leads to tools and findings that speak directly to the concerns of educators. His approach gives equal voice to the insights, experiences, and complex working conditions of practitioners on the frontlines of advancing equity and excellence in STEM education.
If you have any questions about this presentation or the series, please contact Pradeep.Dass@nau.edu or 928-523-7120.
Bill Penuel is a Professor of Learning Sciences and Human Development in the School of Education at the University of Colorado Boulder. His research focuses on how educational research and practice can better inform each other, especially through long-term research-practice partnerships. He also studies how teachers learn through designing and implementing new science curricula.
Shaping STEM Teaching Practices in India
Three teachers from Asia’s oldest international boarding school located in the foothills of the Himalayas visited us to improve STEM education opportunities for their students.
Pradeep “Max” Dass, our director, has travelled twice to the Woodstock School in Mussoorie, India, to help guide the school to take steps to strengthen its science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education programs.
The next step for this partnership in infusing STEM-oriented education into the school’s curriculum was for Nishtha Daniel (High School Chemistry), Todd Schumacher (Middle School Science and Social Studies), and Tarun Seth (High School Mathematics) to make a month-long trek to Flagstaff. While here, these educators took part in NAU science and mathematics teacher education classes and immersed themselves in Flagstaff public school classrooms to learn how STEM education is being implemented. Upon returning to India, they will share their new knowledge with colleagues and incorporate these experiences into their own classrooms.
APS Grant Continues Program to Improve STEM Education
APS STEM Focus Schools for the Future is a K-8 professional development program designed for schools who are beginning to or are currently focused on STEM learning. The program’s purpose is to assist Arizona schools to develop a more STEM literate workforce by building school capacity to design and implement effective STEM education for today’s learners.
We recently received a grant from APS to expand the program to five new schools. These schools will join the twelve schools that have already developed a vision and dynamic action plan for being STEM focused and for enacting STEM learning.
The program’s project team is proud to announce the additional schools that have been selected from within the APS service area from around the state are:
Cottonwood Middle School in Cottonwood
Thompson Ranch Elementary School in El Mirage
Sierra Verde STEM Academy in Glendale
Gowan Science Academy in Yuma
The STAR School in Flagstaff
Each school will be sending an administrator, and two teachers for 2.5 years of professional development to assist the schools on their journey to become a STEM school.
Our Professional Development team members Kenric Kesler, Emily Evans and Joëlle Clark are the facilitators of this group of APS STEM Schools for the Future.
For additional information, read the NAU News story.
iCREATE Student Presentations
Our model bioscience course to help develop a local STEM workforce, iCREATE, celebrated the students’ work by hosting an event on March 9. Teams presented their solutions for tracking influenza-like illnesses posters to a panel of local scientists and educators, along with supporters and students’ families.
Thanks to our partners: National Science Foundation; Flagstaff STEM City; Translational Genomics Research Institute—TGen North; Coconino Association for Vocations, Industry, and Technology (CAVIAT); North Country Health Care; and Coconino County Public Health Services District.
Arizona Science Coordinator Collaborative (ASCC)
Our Brooke Whitworth is NAU’s representative in the development of the Arizona Science Coordinator Collaborative (ASCC), a joint project of ADE, AZSELA, NAU’s CSTL and U of A’s Cooperative Extension Office. The purpose of the collaborative is to build a strong network of school and district science leaders in Arizona and facilitate regional collaborations among participants.
Participants receive training and support in developing a strategic plan for improving science in your district, creating a shared vision of state-wide quality science teaching and learning, envision how best to implement new standards in your district, and others. The format for the Collaborative is seven professional development days comprised of four statewide meetings (held in Phoenix) and three regional meetings (South, Central, North). The first meeting took place February 8.
Power of Data (POD) Project Update
Power of Data (POD) Project increases secondary students’ awareness of and interest in careers that utilize geospatial data, awareness of educational pathways to enter these careers, and opportunities to build 21st century and soft workforce skill capabilities. The project creates new models for enabling teachers to integrate 21st century, data-processing, and analysis skills into instruction.
Directions Magazine recently published an article about the project, POD Program Fuels Student Enthusiasm for STEM and GIS, written by Lori Rubino-Hare, the project’s PI and CSTL Professional Development Coordinator, and NAU graduate student, Megan Walker.
New Grants: BASIC, DEWC and FAMUS
Our three new grant-funded programs, BASIC, DEWC and FAMUS are funded through a Math Science Partnership (MSP) grant from Arizona Department of Education.
The CSTL and the Coconino County Education Service Agency (CCESA) are working with schools and districts in both Coconino County and Yavapai County to provide 110 hours of STEM professional learning for teachers through the Building a STEM Integrated Classroom (BASIC)program.
The BASIC program is designed for participating teachers to:
Learn science concepts related to physical science, earth and space science and environmental science, through hands-on investigations and engineering design challenges.
Experience using Mathematical Practice and Mathematics Teaching Practices as part of STEM integrated lessons.
Gain competence and confidence in using an integrated STEM approach to teacher and learning designed for students to develop pathways of conceptual understanding across content areas.
Learn ways to support STEM learning through literacy integration aligned to the Arizona College and Career Readiness Standards.
Gain skills in formative assessment and strategies for analyzing student work in STEM.
Become part of a network of school STEM leaders and work with teaching peers to enhance STEM education.
Teachers in the Force And Matter Unify Science (FAMUS) grant met for the first time on February 25. Grade 3-8 teachers spent the day thinking about what it means to develop a deep conceptual understanding about a topic and began thinking about what characterizes the nature of science.
Grade 3-8 teachers in the Dynamic Earth, Weather, and Climate (DEWC) grant met March 17 for the first time and began to think about what teaching practices characterize effective science instruction.
Both groups will participate in two weeks of deep content instruction, FAMUS in physical science and DEWC in earth science, and consider how to design and implement effective science instruction this coming summer. We are looking forward to seeing them again!
NAUTeach Students Receive Gold Axe Award
Congratulations to our undergraduate students, Brandon Van Bibber and Brittany Carr.
Each semester, Northern Arizona University recognizes seniors who have made outstanding contributions to the university in the areas of academic performance, service, leadership and participation in activities. The seniors who are selected for their contributions will receive the prestigious Gold Axe Award. These awards will be presented at the Gold Axe Award Reception, April 18.
Spring 2017 Noyce Scholarship Fellows
The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship has been awarded to two students for Spring 2017.
The program offers $15,000 to encourage talented undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) majors and post-baccalaureate students holding STEM degrees to earn a teaching credential and commit to teach in high-need districts.
The Spring 2017 Graduate Noyce Fellow is Nathanael Barker. The Spring 2017 Undergraduate Noyce Fellow is Jaylyn Diaz.
Supported by the National Science Foundation, the program is in its fifth year. The scholarship is available to NAUTeach undergraduate students and Master of Arts Teaching Science with Certification (MAT-S) graduate students during their final year of coursework. Since its inception, 60 students have received the award and have been deemed “Noyce Fellows.” After graduation, Fellows participate in an induction program for support during their first years of teaching to promote retention.
Flagstaff Community STEM Celebration
We were honored to be a part of the Fourth Annual event at NAU’s Walkup Skydome on March 6. For more information about the event, visit STEM City’s webpage.
Hope we inspired some scientists and STEM teachers!
We want to share with you the story of Kristi Fredrickson, a Professional Development Coordinator on our Professional Development Team.
Kristi was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) in late July of 2015. She was immediately sent to the hospital for her first of four one-month stays. After receiving several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, she received her bone marrow transplant on January 5, 2016. She returned to work at the CSTL in mid-November at 10 hours per week and is now up to 20 hours per week.
We are thrilled to welcome her back.
Kristi is currently working on:
FAMUS—Gila County MSP grant. Using Making Sense of Science Energy and Force & Motion courses with 3-8 grade teachers; two weeks this summer with follow-up meetings in the fall.
Inductions—Transitioning the Induction course from Sean Ryan, Professional Development Associate, to Kristi. She will be teaching it in the fall with one summer all day meeting.
Power of Data (POD) Project—Assisting with revisions for the facilitator and teacher books.
Aspen Garcia and Christy Hilliard
We are pleased to introduce you to our two newest team members.
Aspen Garcia, Administrative Assistant, and Christy Hilliard, Materials Manager, have both joined our Administrative Team.
Aspen Garcia, Administrative Assistant
I am proud to work with amazing people at the Center for Science Teaching and Learning and NAUTeach! Prior to joining the team, I worked as an administrative assistant/legal assistant for over five years in both the defense and law-enforcement sectors, and was awarded the Arizona employee of the year in 2013. I am also a professional graphic designer, photographer and web designer with over ten years’ experience.
My passions are primarily in helping others, continuously learning, and in improving communities. I enjoy volunteering with Search and Rescue with the Coconino County Sherriff’s Office, as well as with the National Park Service at the Grand Canyon, and strive for 50 to 100 hours of volunteering each year. Similar to CSTL’s mission statement, my mission is to have a deep and lasting impact on the community/world through innovative partnerships, programs and services, which is why I was drawn to this department.
Outside of work I enjoy hiking, kayaking, exploring new National Parks and sites, and taking photos. I am proud to be the wife of an amazing man, who helps encourage me and similarly loves to explore the outdoors. We have two “kids” at home, an old and very happy dog and a friendly, large cat; both are completely adorable and keep us in line and smiling.
Christy Hilliard, Materials Manager
I have over 15 years of experience working in higher education at three large universities. My career began at the University of Connecticut’s School of Business where I helped run program activities, student recruitment, and database and application management for several years in the Executive MBA Program. In 2005, I was pleased to join the Institute for Teaching and Learning at UConn as it launched one of the first on-campus Quantitative Learning Centers in the country. The Center’s director and I worked together to hire peer tutors, supervisory graduate students, secure tutoring space and university funding, and improve pedagogy across math and science departments. In two and a half years, student visits grew to 7000 in fall 2007. After my family’s move to Athens, Georgia in late 2007, I worked at the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy’s continuing education department to help plan, prepare, market and deliver continuing education to pharmacists throughout the state. I also maintained the department’s budget records, providing monthly reports to the Assistant Dean.
Throughout all of my roles, I have improved efficiency and provided exceptional customer service to students, faculty and university friends. I believe effective teamwork and communication are essential to successfully achieving an organization’s mission and vision.
Notes from the Field: Holly Havlicek
After five hours in Flagstaff, while visiting on a whim, I knew I would move here someday. Three years later, in August 2016, I joined the CSTL as an affiliate employee through AmeriCorps VISTA. I am one of 15 VISTAs—Volunteers in Service to America—in Flagstaff as a part of the NAU STEM VISTA Project, and my official title is Knowledge Manager.
I am from Chicago and besides my four years in college, I have lived there my whole life. I graduated with a BS in Marketing from Northern Michigan University (we have a wooden dome too!) and it was my goal to do event planning for a non-profit organization. Unfortunately, when I graduated, all of those jobs were unpaid internships and the only available marketing-related employment opportunities were sales positions. After taking a couple of these positions, I started bartending in order to pay off student loans. I was surprised at how much fun this was. I met new people, made great friends, and helped a lot of people who were looking for things to do in downtown Chicago. I wanted to somehow translate all of these service aspects into a career and began looking into becoming a librarian.
I went to graduate school and got my Masters in Library and Information Science from Dominican University in Illinois. Soon after I graduated, I looked for AmeriCorps positions (going back to the non-profit idea), and found this position in Flagstaff as the Knowledge Manager.
My main project for the CSTL has been working on organizing our library. We have an amazing array of science, math, and education resources but there was not an easy way to find the resources. Our online catalog also was in need of much TLC. First, I created a new classification system that works really well for the resources we own and I have been re-cataloging, re-classifying, and re-shelving every resource. This process takes considerable time and I have completed around 2,300 items in just under four months! The total number will be somewhere around 4,000 when I am finished. With this new system, patrons will be able to navigate the online catalog more easily, find books they are looking for much more quickly, and truly utilize the resources that we have to offer.
I have five more months left as a VISTA for CSTL, so I’m starting to look at what is next. My goal is to work in a public library to share my love of reading and lifelong learning. I am truly grateful for the opportunities I’ve had here. Everyone at the CSTL is so welcoming and helpful, I couldn’t have asked for a better group to join!