In November 2015, I had the opportunity to visit Woodstock School in India. I spent 10 of the 14 years of my school teaching career at Woodstock School (1983 – 1993). This trip was an invitation by the school to consult with them about how to integrate STEM into their curriculum. During my visit there, I had several meetings with department chairs and other administrators, and got to teach 3 classes as well as do a demonstration lesson for teachers (teachers were the participating students in this lesson). The demonstration lesson was aimed at showing possible ways of integrating science and mathematics using a real life issue (human population growth, in this case) and modeling the 5E version of the Learning Cycle approach as an inquiry-oriented pedagogy.
During my interactions with people at Woodstock School, I realized how similar the issues, concerns, questions, and conceptions are regarding what is STEM and STEM Education among teachers and administrators from around the world. People seem to be using the term as if everybody knows what it means and as if it has one universally accepted meaning. The fact of the matter, however, is that many people who use the term actually do not know what they mean when they use the word STEM or what they do mean may be very different from what the next person conceives STEM to be.
So what does STEM mean to you? Have you even stopped to think about it seriously enough? Have you heard in your schools, districts, etc., that we should focus on STEM (or, in some cases STEAM)? And, what is the point behind focusing on STEM anyway? This last question really begs the first question: What is STEM? As we prepare to begin a new semester and the new calendar year, may I encourage you to reflect carefully on what do we mean by STEM and what implications does that have for our work as teachers, researchers, professional development providers, or whatever else you do in the education arena. May it not become just another ‘fad’ in education reform or another band wagon that you or your institution jump on just because
Professional Development Associates
We are pleased to announce that we filled the positions for the two Professional Development Associates in STEM education: Emily Evans and Sean Ryan. Their primary duties are to assist in the design and delivery of professional development projects in STEM education and to collaborate in grant writing efforts. We will introduce them to you in our Team Member Spotlight in the next newsletter.
Spring Noyce Scholarship Awarded
The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship has been awarded to five students for Spring 2016. 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 school districts.
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, 55 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. The Spring 2016 Undergraduate Noyce Fellows are Brad Berger, Amy Frauen, and Julie Leovic. The Spring 2016 Graduate Noyce Fellows are Lindsey Barron and Lauren Newland. (Pictured left to right: Lindsey Barron, Julie Leovic, Amy Frauen, Brad Berger, and Lauren Newland.)
Our Recent Scholarly Activities
Max Dass, Ph.D, Professor and Director
“STEM learning in middle grades by technology-mediated integration of science and mathematics: Results of Project SMILE,” published in Improving K-12 STEM Education Outcomes through Technological Integration, 2016
Brooke Whitworth, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Science Education
“STEM Learning in Your Own Backyard: Designing a place-based middle school summer program,” published in Green Teacher, Winter 2016
Jane Kirkley, Professional Development Coordinator
“Connecting Matter & Energy,” published in SCIENCE Corner for Making Sense of SCIENCE, December 1, 2015
Max Dass, Ph.D, Professor and Director
“Integrating science, mathematics and technology in middle grades,” published in School Science Review, December 2015
CSTL Seminar Series
Thank you to everyone who was able to attend our inaugural seminar on October 16, 2015, with Dr. Todd Campbell. Our next seminar in spring will be presented by Dr. Christine M. Cunningham, Engineering is Elementary (EiE) Founder and Director from the Museum of Science, Boston. The announcement for the event will be posted on our website’s News and Events page.
Dr. Campbell’s presentation, The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as Classroom Versions of Scientific Activity, explored the extent to which the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are actualized in classroom versions of scientific activity. Activity theory was used to frame the activity of classrooms before consideration is given to how NGSS can be interpreted in the context of human behavior (i.e., teachers and students in classrooms). Subsequently, research examining Modeling-Based Learning (MBL) was used to explore and reify the notion of classroom versions of scientific activity for supporting a localized community of practice’s ways of knowing, especially as this relates to visions of science teaching and learning in the Next Generation Science Standards.
For those of you who were not able to attend, the recorded lecture is available on YouTube.
Todd Campbell is an Associate Professor of Science Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Connecticut. His research focuses on teaching and learning in science education. More specifically, cultivating classroom versions of scientific activity through a) modeling as an anchoring epistemic practice, b) technology tools in scientific activity, and c) science teacher professional development (pre-service & in-service).
Power of Data Project expanding
We’re taking our successful local science teaching project to national scale. A $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation establishes an academy that will train facilitators and educators in science learning that utilizes geographic information system technology and problem solving.
Read the NAU News Story here.
Engineering is Elementary Teacher Educator Institute
March 2-4, 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 02/19/16.
Online registration for the Teacher Educator Institute is available.
NASA Awards $3.4 million for our PLANETS project
The program infuses planetary science, technology and engineering concepts into elementary and middle school curricula, boosting tools for K-12 educators.
Read the NAU News story here.
Artist David Hardy’s image of planets forming around a young star. Credit: nasa.gov
Decommissioned books and library items
This fall, there were over 200 items decommissioned from the CSTL library, where we maintain a variety of print resources for students, faculty, and staff. Most of the items were books, but there were videos, multimedia items, etc. Several teachers from various local K-12 schools came to the Center and picked up items to use in their schools and/or classrooms.
There are still more than 100 items available. These items are located on a table outside of our main office in the new Science and Health Building, room 534. Please feel free to come by during normal business hours and take any of the items you can use. They will be available until March 11.
Flagstaff Community STEM Celebration
3rd Annual Flagstaff Community STEM Celebration
Northern Arizona University’s J. Walkup Skydome
Monday, March 7th from 5:00 to 7:30 pm
This event is a Celebration of all things STEM in Flagstaff. All 28 Flagstaff K-12 Schools are invited, including robotics teams and STEM Clubs. There will be activities and demonstrations from Coconino Community College, the many science, technology, engineering and math clubs and departments from Northern Arizona University, and over 50 STEM-related businesses, non-profits, and government agencies.
For more information, visit Flagstaff STEM City.
We are pleased to introduce you to our newest team member.
Sarah Brzeczek, Student Worker, joined us in October 2015.
I am a junior at Northern Arizona University. My major is Secondary Education Biology because my goal is to teach high school Biology. I truly enjoy the science of Biology and look forward to spreading that passion with my own students. I am originally from Illinois, but I have lived in Gilbert for about 10 years. I have been working in the CSTL main office for about three months and I love the community and atmosphere of the job!
I am on the NAU Women’s Club Soccer team, which has been a very rewarding experience. We have gotten to travel to many games and tournaments, and compete in Nationals. Along with playing soccer I enjoy running. I ran the PF Chang’s Half Marathon in Phoenix, the Lost Dutchman Half Marathon in Apache Junction, and just completed the PF Chang’s Marathon with my mom. Some of my other hobbies include baking and cooking, “Pinteresting,” and going to the movies. I say I like to travel, although I haven’t been to many exciting places. I plan to study abroad in Italy for summer 2016, which excites me to expand my passport horizons.
I am so happy to be a student at Northern Arizona University. I transferred from Texas Christian University (TCU) after my first semester in college and I couldn’t be happier with that decision. While TCU was an important experience in my life, NAU is my home away from home; I have made so many wonderful memories and friendships that I will cherish for a lifetime.
It’s a Girl!
Please join us in congratulating Scott Fray, Assistant Clinical Professor, NAUTeach, and his wife, Maureen, on the birth of their daughter.
Charlotte Anne Fray
Scott tells us, “She doesn’t like to eat and sleep much yet, and has her days and nights mixed up. She loves having a hair dryer blown on her and finds it to be simultaneously exhilarating and relaxing.”