Career of the month

For students of any age who are interested in careers in science and engineering, The Science Teacher features a “Career of the Month” column. This two-page article includes interviews with professionals who use science in their work, a description of the job (work overview, career knowledge, and skills), and advice for students. Here is a sample of careers described in the 2016-17 journals (access other years for more careers):

For more, see the SciLinks topics Biology Careers, Careers in Chemistry, Careers in Earth Science, Careers in Life Science, Careers in Environmental Science, Careers in Physics, Geologists, Paleontologists, Pharmacologist, Physiologist, Public Health Careers, Wildlife Biologists



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The ABCs of Science Communication

Science teachers are science communicators. We all know that. We strive to make difficult concepts easy to understand everyday. If one method of getting the message across doesn’t work, we find a different way to reach our students, our audience. We have the freedom, and indeed, the imperative, to do this and the challenge of making difficult concepts understandable; seeing the “I get it!” look on students’ faces is very rewarding.

I have been a university biology educator for 26 years. Sensing that my science enthusiasm could not be constrained merely to the courses I taught on campus, I jumped into the world of science blogging, onto YouTube, and ultimately onto all manner of social media. While some may call me a science writer or communicator, I prefer to retain the title of science educator because I see my time in the online world as an extension of my role as an educator, helping others learn about science while simultaneously stirring an interest in it. As a teacher, you, too may find yourself interested in the field of science communication as well.


Science communication is a broad and many-faceted field. This #scicommABC list highlights some of the terminology used in science communication, the methods by which we reach our audiences, the people who explain science, and places you can engage even more.

ABSTRACT (n)—It’s the summary and first portion of a scientific paper. If you want to communicate science, you must be familiar with how science works, including how scientists share their findings. Need a refresher course? Check out this article, How to (seriously) Read a Scientific Paper.

BLOG, SCIENCE—There are several types of science blogs, according to this article in WIRED. Analyzers share new information that they have been working on. Explainers help clarify concepts and interpret the science. Linkers share information from one or more other sites. Reviewers analyze books, videos or research papers, and the short blogger shares quick bits of science via social media. Check out the book Science Blogging: The Essential Guide for more information if you want to take the leap to becoming a science blogger.

CLICHES—These spell trouble for every writer, but science communication has their own set of overused clichés. For instance, “the war on cancer”, “shedding light”, “the silver bullet”, “the missing link” (hello, biologists!), “we will have to rewrite the textbook” are just a few that we should banish to a black hole.

DENIERS—These are the folks actively working against science and are the most challenging subset that communicators and teachers try to reach. They are not convinced by current scientific thinking on vaccines, global change, GMOS, evolution and even the shape of planet Earth. How should one best communicate to deniers? Science says the best way is NOT to merely share facts. Intrigued? Learn more here.

EMPATHY – Alan Alda, actor and founder of the Alda Kavli Center for Science Communication, has a new book out called, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? An overarching theme in the book is to increase your empathy in order to help make us all (but especially scientists) better communicators. If we understand where the other person is coming from, we improve our ability to communicate with them.

FEEDBACK—As with learning any new skill, feedback from those in the know will be valuable. Seek out others with experience who can help you and don’t only read messages from the trolls. Science Communication Needs and Best Practices

GLOBAL REACH—With the Internet, your science communication message can reach all parts of the globe. Succeeding there is definitely about knowing your audience. Learn more at Four Steps to Going Global on Social Media.

HUMOR—Some of the best science communicators can make us laugh. When it comes to wit, I think of neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky. His communication style is delightful. If you haven’t read his books or watched his videos, give them a try. Another very funny guy is The Science Comedian. There are also sites that make scientific research seem more lighthearted, such as LOL My Thesis and Overly Honest Methods.

INFRINGEMENT, copyright—Many photos and articles on the Internet have been shared without proper attribution. Don’t perpetuate the cycle. Always provide proper attribution on photos, and give credit where credit is due. One of the best explanations of this is from insect photographer Alex Wild. Read it here.

JARGON—Every profession has it’s own language, and this is very true for science. Sometimes scientists in differing fields cannot understand the jargon of other fields, though they share a common knowledge of the traits of good science observation and experimentation. A communicator can cut through the jargon and explain complex terms more simply.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE—Who do you want to reach with your science information? Knowing this will help structure appropriate language to target your audience. How you explain science to a teenager will be different than with a motivated, educated adult and you need to know which one you most want to reach. Learn more at Audience and Purpose at Scitable.

LIVESTREAMING—Google Hangouts on Air, Facebook Live, and Periscope are the newest ways to share demonstrations, interviews, or whatever science related activity you are currently doing. Additionally, sites like NASA are always sharing information on their livestream page. Have you had the chance to use these tools to share science? Learn more about creating a great livestream.

MOVIES—Have you seen Arrival, which highlights the science of linguistics? Did you watch Hidden Figures about the women computers at NASA? What about Apollo 13 with Tom Hanks? How about Thor, where Natalie Portman plays a fictional astrophysicist? Movies with science elements are great ways to begin a conversation about science—whether they get the science wrong or right.

NUMBERS (measure)—As with education, how do we know we are having an impact unless we have numbers? Once you start sharing science, keep track of your metrics. It will help you know whom you are reaching and understand how your audience interacts with your material.

OPEN SCIENCE—The open science movement is motivated by the belief that science resources, including research sharing and educational resources should be made freely available. Most scientific journals require a subscription to access scientific information but many scientists believe science should be free, hence the increase in open source science journals.

PODCASTS—These are like radio programs that can be downloaded to a device to listen when you have time. There are many great science-themed ones out there including Fast Forward, RadioLab, and Science for the People and MANY more. What are some of your favorites?

QUESTIONS—Stephen Strogatz, one of the great mathematics communicators made me think about questions in his essay Writing about Math for the Perplexed and Traumatized “Explaining math well requires empathy. The explainer needs to recognize that there’s another person on the receiving end of the explanation. But in our culture of mathematics, an all-too-common approach is to state the assumptions, state the theorems, prove the theorems, and stop. Any questions? What makes this approach so ineffective is that it answers questions the student hasn’t thought to ask.”

So, we need to know where our audience is in their understanding, and start where we believe they are and answer THOSE questions. Good teachers and communicators do this very well.

RESEARCHERS—Let’s not assume ALL scientists are terrible communicators. Many are jaw-droppingly eloquent when relaying their work to the general public. One researcher’s work I recommend highly is Hope Jahren’s book Lab Girl. Others I recommend are those of doctor and researcher Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, Emperor of All Maladies or The Gene.

SOCIAL MEDIA—By now, none of this is new to anyone. Social media is an excellent way to share science in small or big bites. Images on Instagram and Pinterest, microblogging on twitter, longer story sharing on facebook, tumblr and Google Plus have extended the reach for those who aren’t formally trained science writers and journalists. You can learn more at Three Secrets to Social Media for Science Communication

TELEVISION—TV is still a popular venue for communicating science. From Mr. Wizard, Jacques Cousteau, National Geographic Specials on PBS to Bill Nye, Beakman’s Lab, Discovery Channel, MythBusters, and the old and new Cosmos Series, there is much to be learned from well produced science TV shows. Do you have a favorite?

UNDERREPRESENTATION—as with the field of science, the field of science communication suffers from underrepresentation of women and people of color, but not if you know where to look. Actively seek out those who break the old conventions and follow people like Ainissa Ramirez or Danielle Lee. Or, join their ranks and be the inspiration for future generations. Seeing someone like yourself doing science is a powerful motivator for young people.

VISUALS—The Internet is the perfect place to use visual elements to share science. Images tell a story, and some amazing infographics can be found everywhere. Check out Information is Beautiful for some striking examples of infographics.

WRITING—Producing or consuming great science writing is a way to stay engaged with science, either within or outside of your field of expertise. Books are one of my favorite ways to learn something new or merely to see how someone describes my field in a different way. Of course, one can also read newspapers (though few have science writing staff anymore), magazines and online articles as well.

XTRA SPECIAL CELEBRITY COMMUNICATORS include David Attenborough, Bill Nye, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson. We love our “go to” communicators because they are inspiring and able to turn a good science phrase. However, did you know there are many scientists and other communicators out there whose voices should be heard? An initiative tagged #scicommswarm is a Google Doc that is collecting those voices to share with communicators and journalists.

YOUTUBE—Gone are the days where good visual science explanations were only done by BBC and PBS. Now we have SciShow, VSauce, Brainscoop, Periodic Videos, Bozeman Science, Physics Girl, Global Weirding, and so much more. Which ones do you use in the classroom?

ZIMMER—Z is a tough spot to fill, but luckily we have one of the most talented biology writers and communicators who rightly deserves a spot here. I do hope you are reading Carl Zimmer’s work (NYT, STATnews) any chance you get.

Joanne Manaster

It would have been impossible to cover every aspect of scicomm here. Do you have different ideas about what should have been shared about science communication in this cursory list? For instance, replacing SOCIAL MEDIA with STORYTELLING would be as appropriate. Speak up on twitter with #scicommABC. I’d love to hear your ideas!

Joanne Manaster is a science educator, the host of Read Science!, biology lecturer, and a STEM advocate. Find her on Twitter @sciencegoddess.

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Why Anchoring Phenomena Are Important in the NGSS Classroom

Who is Ivor Robson, and why is he associated with anchoring phenomena? If you are a longtime golf aficionado, you know that Ivor Robson had a special role at the British Open. Robson spent 41 years introducing each player on the first tee, and he never missed a tee time…ever. In addition, he served as the anchor for every player, who couldn’t begin playing until Robson called out his or her name and native country.

I think Ivor Robson’s role in golf relates to anchoring phenomena in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) because before our students can start their science journey, their teachers need to anchor it to something strong, such as an anchoring question or phenomenon, to serve as a foundation. Anchoring phenomena give students and teachers the stability to start a science lesson and the flexibility to formulate questions through the science processes.

How do anchoring phenomena enhance the shift from content-driven to process-driven classrooms?

Image 1I first began to understand the purpose of anchoring phenomena a few years ago when I attended a professional development session with fellow NSTA curator Brian Aycock. I don’t recall the question he posed, but I do remember it had something to do with water, and he showed us an image of a home that was buried in snow. By using that image as the anchoring event, Aycock demonstrated how it could generate many more questions from us. He explained that future questions can come from student discussions, facilitated by the teacher. 

Image 2Anchoring phenomena can be a game changer for science teachers. Our goal always has been to help students understand the process of science. In the past, we’ve tried to accomplish that by using vocabulary lists, encyclopedic texts, and culminating lab activities. Did we succeed? I think the best answer is partially. We helped students comprehend terms and cool science stuff, but we didn’t give them an experience that was rich enough for them to actually process science.

Image 3Anchoring phenomena based in the three dimensions of the NGSS has taken science education from traditional content-based instruction to process-based discovery. Students are no longer expected to simply memorize vocabulary lists and take a multiple-choice test to show science understanding. Today, students are using anchoring phenomena to “figure out” science. Starting with the initial phenomenon question, students are advancing on their own path to science understanding.

Image 4What do anchoring phenomena look like in the classroom?

I work at Francis Granger Middle School in Indian Prairie District 204 in northeast Illinois. This past year, we adopted the IQWST resource developed by Activate Learning. I have four science units in my current rotation, and each is based on an anchoring phenomenon.

One of my units, How will it move?, is based on the anchoring event of a magnetic cannon. In this cannon, a ball bearing is rolled slowly into two magnets. The energy from the first ball bearing is amplified by the magnets, which then propel the last ball bearing away from the apparatus at a higher rate of speed. The students worked and discovered together, then built magnetic cannons and simply explored the phenomenon. My only guiding question was, “How do you think this is occurring?”

This question guided them in their discovery. We asked more questions; small groups collaborated; and we became co-owners of the process of exploring that phenomenon. 

For the next eight weeks, we used our questions, and the sub-questions from our resource, to gradually discover how things move. The anchoring phenomenon kept us rooted in our Performance Expectation (PE) and Disciplinary Core Idea (DCI). The anchoring phenomena also gave us the flexibility to naturally connect Crosscutting Concepts (CCC) and examine with Science and Engineering Practices (SEP). The anchoring phenomena allowed the three dimensions of the Framework to come alive in our classroom.

Anchoring phenomena were visible in my classroom in obvious ways. The discussions were deep and rich. The collaboration was group-based and meaningful for all learners. The science process modeling developed over time and became more and more detailed. Most importantly, students had fun as they used anchoring phenomena to explore and discover science. Learning is meant to be fun.

Why are anchoring phenomena important to the NGSS classroom?

 Anchoring phenomena hold students and teachers to a PE, yet offer the flexibility to develop knowledge through questioning. They also foster an intentional use of the three dimensions of NGSS and spark activity and learning in the classroom. Anchoring phenomena provide relevance that makes students eager to learn what is next in the science process. How have you seen anchoring phenomena change your classroom? How have anchoring phenomena changed how you teach science?

Brian Klaft

Brian Klaft has taught middle school science for 26 years. He teaches at Francis Granger Middle School in Indian Prairie School District (IPSD) 204 in Aurora, IL. Previously he taught in Chicago Public Schools and South Berwyn District 100. Over the past four years Brian has served on IPSD’s science curriculum team, working with other district science staff to align the NGSS standards to district curriculum. He also serves as an NGSS@NSTA Curator and oversees the middle level waves and electromagnetic radiation topic area. Read Brian’s blog and follow him on twitter at @BKd204Sci.

Visit NSTA’s NGSS@NSTA Hub for hundreds of vetted classroom resourcesprofessional learning opportunities, publicationsebooks and more; connect with your teacher colleagues on the NGSS listservs (members can sign up here); and join us for discussions around NGSS at an upcoming conference.

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How to Choose Good Phenomena

When I began aligning my instruction to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), I got lost in the details. But when I realized that phenomena could be used to anchor linked disciplinary core ideas, I started to visualize the course as a whole and was able to build storylines around the phenomena. I now begin each unit by asking students to observe or experience a phenomenon, generate questions, then design investigations to answer their questions.

How do you choose good phenomena?

First, you need to understand what is meant by phenomena. Phenomena

  • are observable events,
  • can occur anywhere in the universe,
  • can be explained using our knowledge of science, and
  • can be predicted using our knowledge of science.

Because the anchoring phenomena will be both the foundation of and common thread throughout the unit, they must be something students can’t find an answer to quickly and easily with little experimentation or exploration. The phenomena must also relate to all the disciplinary core ideas (DCIs), crosscutting concepts (CCCs), and science and engineering practices (SEPs) students will encounter during the unit. They can be directly observable, like dry ice subliming or a pencil looking bent when it is resting halfway in a glass of water, or they can be portrayed in video clips, such as a slow-motion video of single replacement reaction viewed under magnification or a person doing parkour.

When planning a unit, I begin by reviewing the relevant DCIs and ask myself questions about the concepts involved. I teach physics and chemistry in high school, so this example shows my selection process for Newton’s second law, covered in HS-PS-2-1.

  • What topics or investigations cause the most confusion for students?
  • What are the really important aspects of Newton’s second law that will provide what students need to gain an enduring understanding?
  • What is abstract or invisible and would make this concept difficult for students to visualize?
  • Why does this matter to my students?
  • Can I link this topic to a challenge for students?

These questions led me to one concept in physics, objects falling to Earth. This concept can be experienced in different ways, but one video clip from YouTube exemplified the phenomena for me. It shows an ostrich feather and a bowling ball being dropped together in the world’s largest vacuum chamber. Student questions about this video included these:

Why did both objects hit the ground at the same time?

Why do objects fall?

Was the acceleration of the objects constant as they fell?

How fast were the objects going when they hit the ground?

I prefer to post student questions in the classroom throughout the unit so we can refer to them and ensure the investigations the students are designing and conducting are moving us toward a better understanding of our anchoring phenomena.

Plenty of tools are available for students as they investigate these questions, including video analysis software, motion detectors, cell phone cameras with slow-motion filming, and even traditional ticker- tape times. Once the students have been introduced to the tools, they can decide how to use them to investigate the class questions.

The following links can help you learn more about using phenomena, including examples of phenomena that can be used throughout our courses. Good luck! If you need help finding good phenomena, don’t forget to visit the NSTA Learning Center or ask a question on one of NSTA’s member-only e-mail lists.

Alison Hapka

Alison Hapka teaches high school physics and chemistry and works hard each day to inspire young learners to love science and the pursuit of knowledge. She received a Bachelor’s degree in physics from Loyola University and a Master’s degree in geophysics from Boston College. She also took certification classes from West Chester University. Before entering teaching, Hapka worked in research and development for a hazardous waste remediation company. She has taught physics, chemistry, Earth science, and computer science at the high school level.

Visit NSTA’s NGSS@NSTA Hub for hundreds of vetted classroom resourcesprofessional learning opportunities, publicationsebooks and more; connect with your teacher colleagues on the NGSS listservs (members can sign up here); and join us for discussions around NGSS at an upcoming conference.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

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My ‘Phenomenal’ Journey in Elementary

I am the type of educator who gets very excited about new strategies, new and innovative technology, and new activities for students. However, I was more nervous about than excited about to choosing phenomena for my science units. I felt tremendous pressure to pick the “right” ones, ones that were engaging and exciting, while matching the standards precisely. Like all teachers would do, I started asking my peers how they were managing this work and began experimenting with phenomena myself. I’ll share a bit about my journey in embedding phenomena in the elementary grades.

Call to Adventure

The first time I heard about phenomena was at an NSTA conference a few years ago when a presenter displayed an energy stick, which I now know is a toy used to explore the science of electricity and circuits. The presenter only briefly explained what the object was, and I was puzzled about what she meant.

In small groups, we experimented with different ways to activate the toy’s lights and buzzers, asking many questions and constructing explanations. I quickly learned that phenomena were events that caused students to ask questions and explore underlying explanations and concepts of the unit. It was an engaging and memorable experience to do a lesson that was “flipped” in this way, and I wanted more. The following lessons provide opportunities for students to construct scientific understanding and meaning of phenomena.

The Starting Line Continue reading …

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A Children’s Book that Explains Eclipses the Way You Would

Everyone across the country is getting ready to view the sky event of the decade – the All American total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. 

Older kids may have studied eclipses in an earth science or general science class. But there is a way to get younger kids ready to view the solar eclipse. NSTA Kids Press recently published an eclipse book that we think you will want to share with your students. Please check out When the Sun Goes Dark.

In this richly illustrated, 36-page book, 12-year-old Diana and her younger brother, Sammy, want to know why their grandparents travel thousands of miles to see total eclipses of the Sun. Readers follow the kids’ questions and interactions and learn the science behind solar and lunar eclipses, what makes these sky events so special, and how to observe a solar eclipse safely. When the Sun Goes Dark provides a great introduction for families and serves as an excellent resource for teachers and librarians as they prepare for the August 21, 2017, solar eclipse that will be visible throughout North America.

Please check out the many 5-star reviews are on both the NSTA and Amazon websites

We hope your students enjoy the book and you have clear skies on August 21st.


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Kindergarten 5E Physical Science Investigation: Scientific conversations from what’s in your cupboard

Welcome to guest blogger Emily Townsend! Emily has been teaching for a decade to students of all ages, kindergarten to adult. She has a love of language that was born through her first year teaching abroad in Shijiazhuang, China. She has recently discovered that science and language learning are obvious allies, and is delighted in the gains in academic vocabulary scientific inquiry lessons can provide. She currently co-teachs in six push-in English Language Development classrooms and tries to instill a love of both subjects (science and LA) in her students. She is a hiker, camper, and want-to-be bird watcher, and lives with her husband and their dog on the Oregon coast. 

“In early childhood education, our textbooks are the materials we offer children…” (Cuffaro 2005). 

In May, after a winter of 167 days of rain, with summer in view, in a push-in class of emerging bilinguals, I shared this quote with my co-teachers and took Cuffaro’s advice to heart. A kindergarten physical science unit was born from materials found in drawers, cupboards, and recycling bins. Before any introduction or explanation to the class about force, energy, or machines, we passed out our “text”: cardboard box lids and marbles. Our inspiration was a lesson from Head Start on Science, Section 3: Physical Science (Ritz 2007).  This book takes children on investigations with blocks and magnets and, in our case, marbles, to lead them in answering their own questions about the movement and makeup of the world.

To plan our investigation and Engage, the first step in the 5E Model (Barufaldi 2002, Bybee 2014), we asked our young scientists: ‘What can we do with these materials?’  ‘What can we create?’. Motion was on their minds as well, which led to the next round of questioning; ‘How can the marble move?’, ‘In what different ways can the marble get from one side of the box to the other?’. Two lists were generated: speeds and patterns:  fast to “not moving much” and zig-zag to curvy. 

As students set out to make their marble behave in these ways, one particularly data-driven young mind raised the question, “Can we use a whiteboard to write down what happens?”. Oh, but of course, you can record your findings! Our budding scientists set out for the second ‘E’, Explore, and maneuvered their marble with “different strengths and directions of pushes and pulls” (NGSS K-PS2-1, NGSS Lead States) and, gloriously, take data. When students take the initiative, as this student led her classmates in doing, it moves the lesson from teacher-directed to student-driven. Deeper learning occurs when motivation and desire meet investigation.

Children paint with marbles on paper in a box lid.

Children paint with marbles on paper in a box lid.









We offered guiding questions as students explored, then introduced a new element: paint.  By adding a new material we heightened their learning with the opportunity for compare and contrast, and cause and effect.  Students already had one experience, so by adding a new way to explore, they were encouraged to observe changes.  Students also realized the paint created resistance for the marble where it was thick and it was more difficult to move the marble.  The effects of the paint allowed the investigation to blossom into something new. 

When whiteboards were full and box lids were decorated, students returned for the next phase of the 5E Model, Explain. They shared their findings, using their data and box lid as proof.  We asked, “How did you make a curvy and straight line?” “Did the marble stop or bounce when it reached the side?”  “Why?” Students used their own words to define the science they had encountered.  We guided the discussion with sentence frames that came up naturally, “It moved…” and “It rolled” were obvious using regular past tense.  However, students also used “It drawed..” and “It maked..”, which allowed the organic incorporation of the correct irregular past tense in language frames as the discussion continued. 

Another natural connection in language was body parts.  In our English Language Development classroom, this vocabulary is explicitly taught and our investigation presented a perfect opportunity to practice.  When students described how to make the marble move, they were encouraged to name the body parts used to create the movement; such as elbow, shoulder, wrist, and even waist.  Other students could then mimic their movement using the oral descriptions as a guide.

In addition, new science vocabulary was introduced.  It provided students with common language to discuss their findings.  Ramp, inclined plane, and force were pre-planned content vocabulary for the unit. Other concepts, friction and gravity, were brought up by students when describing problems and successes they encountered. When the need for these words arose in class, they were given in learner-friendly definitions.  For example, gravity came up in a discussion of the marble only rolling down the ramps.  When asked why, a student explained that things only fall down. The rest of the class agreed that they had had the same experience, so we introduced the idea of gravity, a force that pulls things to the Earth. For objects to move up a ramp, they would need another force, a student’s push. By giving students vocabulary in context of their experience, we provided meaningful exposure.  Students now had a link in their brains between their lives and Tier 3 content vocabulary (Beck, McKeown, and Kucan 2002). 

Extension, ‘E’ number four, could be done using different sizes and shapes of boxes, by adding obstacles within the box for the marble to maneuver, or by providing students with a goal of creating a picture with the paint.  These could be presented whole group or in centers. 

The 5th ‘E’, evaluation, came in the creation of roller coasters and machines during exploration with blocks and other recyclable materials to manipulate marbles. Although the goal of the unit was not to have students use simple machines, we found that introducing the everyday uses of these machines allowed students to create and explore the effects of pushes and pulls with common vocabulary. Each simple machine (inclined plane, wheel and axle, screw, wedge, and pulley) was introduced through a similar investigation, where students explored the effects of pushes and pulls on an object.  We raided our classrooms for on-hand materials to use in these explorations.  A marshmallow, ruler, and pencil were used for a lever, cardboard cylinders and a heavy box for wheels and axles (Ashbrook 2016), and a pencil, spool, and string for pulleys.  After each exploration, we named the machines they created and identified their use in our everyday lives. In the end, students combined their knowledge for the 5th ‘E’, evaluation, and created roller coasters, using many simple machines, with blocks and other recyclable materials.

In each exploration, students were given a goal and the necessary equipment to reach it.  Each time we were amazed by their scientific and engineering design ingenuity, their curiosity, and ability to apply new knowledge to their current schema.  All around the room, among children of all backgrounds and language proficiency levels, we heard, “I love science time!”.

Works Cited:

Ashbrook, Peggy. 2016. Chapter 17: “Roll with It!” Science Learning in the Early Years: Activities for PreK-2. Arlington, VA: National Science Teachers Association, 2016. 99-104. 

Barufaldi, Jim. 5E Model of Instruction. Austin: CSCOPE, July 2002.

Beck, Isabel L., McKeown, Margaret G., Kucan, Linda. 2002. Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction. New York City: The Guilford Press.

Bybee, Rodger. 2014. Guest Editorial: The BSCS 5E Instructional Model: Personal Reflections and Contemporary Implications. Science and Children. 51(8): 10-13

Cuffaro, Harriet K. “Block Building: Opportunities for Learning.” Community Playthings.  Community Playthings, 1 Feb. 2005. Web. 21 June 2017. 

NGSS Lead States. 2013. Next Generation Science Standards: For states, by states. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.  

Ritz, William C. Ed. 2007. A Head Start on Science: Encouraging a Sense of Wonder: 89 Activities for Children Ages 3-7. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press

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Ed News: How Trump’s Budget Would Gut Innovations In Teacher Training

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This week in education news, controversy over science education nothing new in Oklahoma; President’s budget would zero out the funding for innovations in teacher training; the debate over teaching climate change in U.S. schools heats up; experiential learning helps students own their future; computer science educators should prepare students with how to deal with pressing ethical questions related to the capabilities of technology; mentors for new teachers found to boost student achievement; and NSTA and the STEM Education Coalition warn the U.S. Department of Education that excluding science as a top priority in new state education plans would be a mistake.

Controversy Over Science Education Nothing New In Oklahoma

Science teacher Heather Johnston has fielded an increase in student questions about the concept of rising temperatures across the planet, an example of the intensifying political debate over climate change creeping into her classroom. But even when a student might express disbelief in the scientific theory, Johnston, who teaches at Norman High School, views it as an opportunity to invite students to practice their scientific investigation skills. Click here to read the article featured in Tulsa World.

How Trump’s Budget Would Gut Innovations In Teacher Training

It’s no secret that traditional teacher training and “professional development” can feel far removed from the real world of the classroom. That’s daunting to many who might enter the profession, frustrating to many already there — and ultimately hurtful to students. So when Louisiana announced that every new teacher in the state would receive a full year of “residency-based” training, modeled on how doctors learn their craft, the question the rest of the country should have asked is, “How do we make that happen here?” Unfortunately, the Trump administration is moving in precisely the opposite direction, with a plan to zero out the funding for innovations like Louisiana’s. Click here to read the article featured on The 74.

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Successful interviews

As a recent graduate, I’m preparing for interviews. Do you have any hints for successful interviews? —A., Minnesota

I’ve been on interview committees, and when applicants have comparable credentials, little things can make an impression. In addition to what your college mentors recommended for interviewing, I’d suggest the following.

Do some research before the interview in case you’re asked what you know about the school or community. Look for nearby science-related resources (parks, museums, nature centers, etc.). Learn a little about the history of the community and what it’s famous for. Visit the school’s website to learn about the school culture, facilities, extracurricular activities. Look over the student and faculty handbooks if they are available online.

I’m sure your college mentors suggested answering questions completely and succinctly. Don’t fake a response or answer with unrelated information. If you don’t know an answer, write the question down and add it to your list of things to learn about.

Even though you know to dress professionally for the interview, you could accessorize subtly with the school colors. Turn off your cell phone before the interview and arrive in time to mentally organize yourself. Also organize any materials you bring to the interview.

Shake hands firmly and repeat names as you are introduced. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Dr. Jones.” Even though you’ll be nervous, show your enthusiasm and personality.

Purge your personal social media sites of inappropriate information or photos. Don’t share things that you would not want your future students and their parents (and school administrators) to see.

The committee may ask if you have any questions. Show your interest by asking

  • What is the school’s philosophy toward science instruction?
  • What mentoring and professional development activities are available?
  • What kind of lab resources and technology are available?
  • What is the role of extracurricular activities in the school?
  • How do teachers use community resources that you identified before the interview?

Good luck!

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Science Teachers Needed to Support Libraries’ Solar Eclipse Events

Public libraries across the country are receiving 2 million eclipse viewing glasses and a booklet of information to help prepare the public to view the sky event of the decade – the All American total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017.  (This distribution of glasses is supported by the Moore Foundation and Google.)

Please consider helping your local library in this effort to inform the public. You can find a map showing libraries near you that are involved in distributing glasses at Suggestions for how your students can be Eclipse Outreach Agents to assist libraries, your school and other community groups are in the March issues of Science Scope and The Science Teacher.  If you are planning to go see the total eclipse, you can still be a hero for your librarian in the months before the eclipse

You may also want to let libraries know about the newest NSTA Kids Press book, When the Sun Goes Dark, for 8 to 13 year olds. It’s in the form of a story, but encourages families to do activities with simple home materials to understand what causes eclipses and how to view them safely.

Thanks for considering being a resource to your local library.

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