Stand for Students, Stand for Science

Since the founding of our country, indeed since the beginning of western democracy, being well-informed includes being well-informed about science. “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government,” said Thomas Jefferson, 228 years ago, not long before he established the first science agency in the U.S. government, the Survey of the Coast, and commissioned the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Today there is a growing rift between science as a way to understand the natural world and the formulation of public policy. We “debate” the causes of climate change; we think that evolution is “only” a theory; and many believe that vaccination causes autism. “Alternative facts” can be proclaimed with a straight face.

Years ago, Isaac Asimov noted, “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

Now, more than ever, the need for science education is staggering and public support for science is undermined by deliberate misinformation and simple ignorance.

The March for Science is an effort to remind the public of the benefits of science and science education. These benefits range from meaningful careers for our children to improving our health to living sustainably on our planet to being well-informed in the voting booth. As educators—and as scientists—we have stayed in the shadows too long and I believe we must move into the spotlight of public attention. A bright light will sometimes expose weaknesses but we know that the only way to repair a weakness is to first see it.

In agreeing to partner with the March for Science, NSTA subscribed to a set of core principles and goals that I want to share with you:

Core Principles – we support:

  • Science that serves the common good
  • Evidence-based policy and regulations in the public interest
  • Cutting-edge science education
  • Diversity and Inclusion in STEM
  • Open, honest science and inclusive public outreach
  • Funding for scientific research and its applications

Goals for the March:

  • Humanize science
  • Partner with the public
  • Advocate for open, inclusive, and accessible science
  • Support scientists
  • Affirm science as a democratic value

I expect that each of these will receive some exposure at the March. None of these is political in a partisan way. And all of them are what we hope for in a science literate society. 

Please join me on April 22 as we Stand up for Students and Stand up for Science. 

 

Dr. David L. Evans is the Executive Director of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). Reach him via e-mail at devans@nsta.org or via Twitter @devans_NSTA.

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


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Experiencing nature–educators make it happen for children and other teachers

Nature play and exploration varies in early childhood (broadly: infant to grade 3) programs and are subject to the local and state licensing regulations, a program’s choice of curriculum, the local environment and weather, and the support of the administration. A conference is an effective way to get a lot of science content knowledge about that local environment and the living organisms that reside there, and to learn developmentally appropriate ways to share that information with young children as you give them experiences that will invite them to continue to explore nature over their lifetimes.

NoVA Outside logoThe “Getting Kids Outdoors in Nature” conference, organized by the early childhood committee of NoVA Outside, brought together educators in varied roles from the usual mix of early childhood programs, all interested in learning more about nature education. 

Amy Beam presenting a keynote at the NoVA Outside conference In her keynote address, Outdoor Education and Nature Connection Specialist  Amy Beam encouraged us to let children take risks that help develop their gross motor skills and their confidence in their own problem-solving abilities.  She spoke about those “tender conversations” when children are confronted with a robin eating a ‘friend’ worm and begin to understand the needs of living organisms. The examples she brought of the many different materials she and the children take with them on their long walks through natural areas helped us plan for our own programs. Beam works as an outdoor educator with Montessori schools in the Washington, D.C. area, and she appeared in the film Mother Nature’s Child

Amy Beam led groups in outdoor games to enhance connections with nature.In her breakout sessions Beam taught fun activities, games, songs and techniques that awaken and deepen children’s innate love of nature and learning. 
 
Experienced preschool directors and naturalists talked about their love of nature, and shared tips and expertise for facilitating children’s learning in nature.
 
Directors Debbie Brown, Susan Parker, and Margaret Moran lead half-day parent co-op programs with classes that spend days each week entirely outdoors on “field trips” in partnering local parks. They talked about the on-going process to educate parents and other family members on the benefits of outdoor experiences that take place off the playground. Their trials and triumphs of adding experiences in nature to their programs resonated with the conference participants who had many questions!
 
Romanoff helped educators make connections: Where does experiential learning in nature meet early learning standards? Lesley Romanoffalso the director of a half-day parent co-op program, has found that play gets a child closer to “ready to learn” than anything else, but adults/parents need to see that teachers are checking off the boxes of curriculum and standards. She advised directing attention to the value of play and playful learning by documenting and explaining to parents how nature play does more than check all the boxes, meeting education standards and especially incorporating the arc of human growth and development so children are taught in a developmentally appropriate way. For educators who plan to incorporate more time in natural areas, Romanoff recommends to “start small,” recounting how her first walking excursions were too far, leaving some children too tired and cranky to enjoy the natural space when they arrived. Now she pulls a wagon. When most children wanted to ride in the wagon, Romanoff talked with them, saying, “You want to go in the wagon but you don’t need to go in the wagon.” These conversations built empathy which was displayed at the park as children figured out how to partner with each other to accomplish tasks that were easier for one child and hard for another
 
Arlington County Virginia naturalist Alonso Abugattus spoke on interpreting natureAlonso Abugattas, Arlington Parks Naturalist and Capital Naturalist blogger, advises us to be flexible and use the “interpretive moment” to teach about whatever in nature has children’s attention. His enthusiasm for small wildlife was infectious: “Those millipedes are so cool!” making me excited about searching for them. If you have difficulty locating small animals like millipedes and isopods, use his technique of putting a board or old door down on the ground. After a few days, open this “Door to the Underground” to reveal millipedes, isopods, slugs, worms, and more. He cautioned us to always check for yellow jacket wasps before we turn over a log as they may be nesting under it. And to wash hands after outdoor explorations. 
 
Naturalist Sarah Glassco, says a school garden is great for getting kids outdoors and attracting wildlife. Many programs do not have access to a more-or-less natural area so a garden is a good place to experience nature. She brought a mini-library of her favorite resources so participants could become familiar with them and research their nature observations when she took the group outdoors.

 
In every session, participants shared their successes in teaching children in outdoor settings and problem-solved how to work through the hurdles that keep us from teaching outdoors. After the sessions we gathered for lunch and casual discussions. Lunch and networking, two very important experiences for early childhood educators that we often don’t get time for!
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Ed News: How Many U.S. Students Are Taught By Qualified Teachers?

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This week in education news, education programs could still be vulnerable in President Trump’s budget; most U.S. public school students are taught by qualified teachers; and utility-value intervention with parents increases students’ STEM preparation and career pursuit.

One Reason Young People Don’t Go Into Science? We Don’t Fail Well

Learning resilience is fundamental to a successful career as a scientist. The experiments we try will fail many times before they work, whether as an undergraduate, a PhD student, or a postdoc gunning for a faculty position. I’m dealing with this right now in my third laboratory rotation: In trying to study a protein in zebrafish, I made a mistake and all my embryos died. So, I’m troubleshooting and doing the experiment again. Click here to read the article featured in STAT magazine.

What Education Programs Could Still Be Vulnerable in Trump’s Budget?

President Trump’s budget plan for education has singled out several programs to be slimmed down or eliminated. But all we know right know is based on a mere “skinny” federal budget the administration released last week. It doesn’t detail all of the cuts and additions Trump’s team wants to make. In the interim, we talked with Tom Corwin and Michele McLaughlin and they discussed which programs might be particularly vulnerable to proposed cuts, elimination, or some kind of lack of love from Trump. Click here to read the article featured in Education Week.

Continue reading …

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Contacting parents

I have several students in my biology classes who are very disruptive. I know I should contact their parents, but as a new teacher I’ve never done this. How I should handle this? —C., California

I found at the secondary level, it was more effective to work with the students first, then contact parents (or guardians) about misbehavior after exhausting in-house strategies. Even if you typically e-mail or text, having a real-time voice conversation with parents or guardians may be the most effective way to express your concern.

Determine an appropriate time to speak (it may not be possible for all parents to talk while at work) through a text or e-mail. Or ask them to call you and suggesting times, such as early morning or late afternoon. (It’s a good idea in your welcome letter at the beginning of the year to ask parents the best way and time to communicate.)

Prepare notes to help stay focused on the problem and what you want to discuss.

Start with some positive comments about the student and emphasize you want what’s best for their child to be a successful learner. Provide examples of the behavior in question and how you tried to correct the situation. Ask for other ideas on how you can work together to resolve the issues. If the disruptive behavior occurs during a lab activity, remind the parents of the safety acknowledgement form they signed.

Give the parents time to respond and listen to them without interruption, using wait-time before you respond).

You can ask your mentor or administrator to be present (be sure to mention that he/she is there).

At the end, summarize what you and the parents will do and expectations for the student. Thank them for their time and input. Follow up on the conversation with any results.

Annotate your notes and keep a log of your communications.

 

Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/eclectic-echoes/6681499071/

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Enhanced E-books Student Editions, Part I: Providing Teachers With Tools for Managing Student Learning

NSTA recently launched e-Books+ Student Editions. In addition to the impressive array of topics, the student editions come with the tools that allow teachers to manage their students’ learning in useful ways.

Created for students in grades 6-12, these interactive e-books include animations, videos, simulations, embedded assessment, slide shows, and high-resolution images. These interactive e-books are between 100 pages and 200 pages long and are intended to supplement your classroom curriculum. Note that English language arts e-books focused on STEM concepts for students in grades K-5 are in development and will be available in the not too distant future.

The topics currently available are for middle and high school students. The student editions are housed on a Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) compliant site. Students go to the NSTA Reader or use the NSTA Reader app. They log in using the username and password that was assigned to them by their teachers.

This new video highlights many of the features of the student editions.

Features of the Student Editions

In the NSTA Reader, using the student editions, teachers can:

  • Assign students to classes and project groups
  • Assign projects and homework to students by class, group, or student
  • Make use of the assessment bank from e-books
  • Create and grade digital or print assessments
  • Upload students in bulk; add review questions
  • Grade student assignments
  • Send notifications and other messages to students
  • View license information
  • View class and student progress in the e-books
  • View class and students results for review questions and assessments
  • Export data in Excel spreadsheets.

NSTA has created step-by-step instructions for teachers to use the NSTA Reader.

These tools are not available with the professional learning editions. The student editions currently are licensed for a period of one year with multiyear options coming soon.

In the student editions, students can take advantage of these features:

  • Highlight, draw, and take notes directly in the e-book
  • Answer review questions
  • Upload completed assignments (formats: pdf, Word, Excel, video, audio, image, URLS)
  • Access notes/highlights/assignments from different devices
  • Complete teacher or e-book assessments from within an e-book
  • Post to class blogs

Additionally, administrators can:

  • Assign teachers to classes
  • Assign classes
  • Keep track of teachers teaching what class with what material
  • Bulk upload classes and teachers
  • Add review questions
  • View content assigned to a class
  • View content assigned to a student

NSTA provides step-by-step instructions for administrators to use the NSTA Reader.

Student Edition Topics

The student editions support the disciplinary core ideas of the Next Generation Science Standards. The table below features all 23 topics currently available. Visit the Enhanced E-books Student Edition page and scroll through to learn more about each topic.

     
 

Heading to the NSTA National Conference in LA?

Visit the Science Store or Booth 534, and try out the Enhanced e-Books for yourself.


Contact and Ordering Information

All purchases of eBooks+ Student Editions must be completed through NSTA’s Customer Service Department. Order by phone (1-800-277-5300) between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET) or fax (1-888-433-0526). Or email us at orders@nsta.org. Download an e-Books+ Student Edition order form.

Pricing information is available per ebook/student/year. For any other questions regarding NSTA’s eBooks+ Student Editions, including pricing for multi-year purchases, please contact ebooks@nsta.org.


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Career of the Month: Fire Protection Engineer

Fire protection engineers help protect people from fire and explosion hazards by ensuring that buildings have adequate exits, that flammable substances are controlled, and that everyone operating near such hazards takes necessary precautions. Nancy Pearce is a fire protection engineer for the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA).

Work overview.

Many fire engineers work behind the scenes to help design equipment or buildings to prevent or withstand fires. Others figure out what building materials are required and how to configure exits or hallways to allow quick escape in case of a fire. Some fire protection engineers conduct investigations after fires or do research on materials that may provide better fire resistance.

My focus is on codes that protect industrial workers from fire and

Fire Protection Engineer Nancy Pearce

explosion hazards. I help experts in the field write and revise fire-protection codes and standards adopted by many government agencies. Revisions occur as new information becomes available. After explosions in Texas killed firefighters a few years ago, for example, I worked with experts to rewrite the ammonium nitrate code that spells out how to properly use that chemical and respond to such fires.

People who have questions about the codes call me to interpret them. For example, someone applying for a July 4 fireworks display permit may want to know at what angle to set up the fireworks and how far away spectators must be from particular types.

Nancy Pearce visits a barge on the Charles River to review how mortars are set up before an Independence Day fireworks show in Boston.
©2016 National Fire Protection Association and Nancy Pearce

My job involves much reading and research as well as traveling to conduct training sessions on how to apply the codes and to visit facilities that may be performing a new process. My math training helps me do the necessary calculations for the codes, and my science background helps me understand the reasons behind the code requirements, such as why a chemical has a particular fire property and which materials should not be stored together for safety reasons.

My career has been rewarding and exciting. Yet it’s frustrating when fatalities occur because people didn’t follow the fire codes. The NFPA often gets involved when there is a major fire. Recently, the association deployed three people to support investigators of a deadly fire in Oakland, California, involving a warehouse being used as a dwelling. Sadly, fatalities are often a matter of noncompliance with fire codes.

Career highlights.

It’s very dangerous for workers to enter tanks, manholes, and so on. I had the opportunity to create a committee of top experts and work with them to develop a standard for confined-space entry that should improve safety.

Career path.

After graduating from college, I worked in a lab but decided I’m better suited to a people-oriented job. So I eventually took a job as an industrial hygienist for the State of Massachusetts. In that role, I worked on a number of programs, starting with one focusing on getting asbestos out of schools. I also visited different workplaces to help protect workers from dangers, ranging from blood-borne pathogens to high-noise levels to amputations. The job involved a lot of science and math to carry out tasks such as collecting air samples and calculating exposure levels. I did that for almost 28 years.

Five years ago, I began working as a fire protection engineer for the NFPA.

Knowledge, skills and training needed.

You need a math, science, and engineering background, but you can enter this type of career from multiple disciplines—for example, from chemical, mechanical, or civil engineering—and then get plenty of on-the-job training. Several universities offer specific degrees in fire protection engineering and industrial hygiene.

Advice for students.

Look at online videos and talk to people who are working in these fields. An association or college can help you find someone to talk to in your area. Becoming a volunteer or professional firefighter is another way to find out about the field.

Bonus Points
Pearce’s education:
BS in chemistry (with community health concentration) and MS in civil engineering and environmental policy from Tufts University

On the web:
www.nfpa.org

Related occupations:
Industrial hygienist, chemical engineer, mechanical engineer

Editor’s Note

This article was originally published in the March 2017 issue of The Science Teacher journal from the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).

Get Involved With NSTA!

Join NSTA today and receive The Science Teacher,
the peer-reviewed journal just for high school teachers; to write for the journal, see our Author GuidelinesCall for Papers, and annotated sample manuscript; connect on the high school level science teaching list (members can sign up on the list server); or consider joining your peers at future NSTA conferences.

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Next Gen Navigator Makes Its Debut

NSTA is all about supporting teachers in understanding and implementing three-dimensional instruction in their classrooms. The first edition of the Next Gen Navigator, a new monthly e-newsletter from the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) out this week will help us do just that. It is an ideal name as we think about how we will navigate the many paths we might take while striving to implement new teaching approaches established in the Framework for K-12 Science Education (Framework) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in PreK-16 classrooms. When you navigate you are determining the route, but we all know the first route chosen is not always the smoothest or least bumpy. This is also true when thinking about implementing new standards. We may not all travel the same road, but we are all trying to reach the same destination. This wonderful name was chosen for us by one of our members, Jean Flanagan, and this was purposeful because this resource is meant to be a support for the field. 

This e-newsletter will give you insights on the many ways your colleagues are thinking, learning, exploring, and experimenting with three-dimensional learning and the many facets of the NGSS. It will connect you to our expanding number of resources—such as the NGSS@NSTA Hub, journals, web seminars, virtual conferences, and other professional learning opportunities—as well as those outside NSTA. It is also a place for teachers to share successes and challenges, build a greater understanding, and read the latest news around standards.

This first issue focuses on teachers and their journey to understand and implement the NGSS. One thing we all need to do as we move forward in our learning around new teaching approaches is to give ourselves permission to make mistakes on our journey and use what we learned from those mistakes to move forward. We will consider how having a growth mindset provides us with the space to make those mistakes.

We are very excited to share this inaugural issue with you and invite you to be a part of it. We want to hear what you are doing in the classroom with your students, as well as lessons that worked, or didn’t work, on your journey. Reach us at nextgennavigator@nsta.org.

Above all, we want this newsletter to guide you whatever route you have chosen to navigate NGSS.

If the first edition of Next Gen Navigator found its way to your inbox, great! If not and you want to receive this monthly e-newsletter, sign up here.

_______________________________________

Kathy Renfrew

Kathy Renfrew is the field editor for Next Gen Navigator. She is K-5 Science coordinator on the Proficiency Based Learning Team at the Vermont Agency of Education, as well as an NGSS@NSTA curator and online advisor in the NSTA Learning Center. She is also worked with a committee of educators and Achieve to develop model content frameworks for elementary science, particularly for grades 4 and 5. Kathy previously taught grades 4 through 6 in a self-contained classroom for more than 30 years. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and a 2000 recipient of the elementary Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching. 
 
 
Visit NSTA’s NGSS@NSTA Hub for hundreds of vetted classroom resources, professional 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.

Future NSTA Conferences

2017 National Conference

STEM Forum & Expo

Follow NSTA

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On the journey to NGSS, follow the path that works for you

Every teacher of science in a school in which NGSS is being implemented is engaged in a transition to standards that are very different from what they are familiar with. This can spark many emotions, including excitement, fear, inspiration, fear, and more excitement. It is a journey in which things are going well, and then you might stumble and fall. Then we must pick ourselves up and start moving again. I know because I am still a NGSS learner myself, and I talk to teachers about this regularly.

When the standards were first released, for example, I worked with a colleague and constructed an integrated instructional sequence for transfer of energy. I was pretty proud of myself. And this lasted until I piloted it with real learners. It had many flaws, but it wasn’t bad for a first try. Now I would do it very differently. After continued learning, I am now in the process of recreating the same transfer of energy instructional sequence. I am bundling the standards differently, using different pieces of texts.

Whether it’s figuring out what lessons to adapt or discard, how to work with colleagues, or how to engage students in phenomena, your colleagues are on the same journey. Read these insights from three educators about their journey to understand and implement the NGSS. They previously appeared in the NSTA member journals.

Adapt or Discard? A Teacher Shares His Experience Implementing the Next Generation Science Standards, From Struggle to Success

by Mike Mangiaracina, a K–5 science specialist in Washington, D.C. (published in Science & Children)

 


My Journey to Understand and Implement the NGSS: One Educator Shares the Story of How She Engaged and Ultimately Embraced the Next Generation Science Standards

by Karen Mesmer, a recently retired middle school science teacher and science coach in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

 

 

 

Climbing the NGSS Mountain: Persistence and a Sense of Purpose Can Propel You to the Top

by Tricia Shelton, a high school science teacher in Florence, Kentucky.

 

 

 

_______________________________________

Kathy Renfrew

Kathy Renfrew is the field editor for Next Gen Navigator. She is K-5 Science coordinator on the Proficiency Based Learning Team at the Vermont Agency of Education, as well as an NGSS@NSTA curator and online advisor in the NSTA Learning Center. She is also worked with a committee of educators and Achieve to develop model content frameworks for elementary science, particularly for grades 4 and 5. Kathy previously taught grades 4 through 6 in a self-contained classroom for more than 30 years. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and a 2000 recipient of the elementary Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching. 
 
Visit NSTA’s NGSS@NSTA Hub for hundreds of vetted classroom resources, professional 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.

Future NSTA Conferences

2017 National Conference

STEM Forum & Expo

Follow NSTA

Facebook icon Twitter icon LinkedIn icon Pinterest icon G+ icon YouTube icon Instagram icon
 
 
 
 
 
Posted in Next Generation Science Standards | Leave a comment

Permission to stumble on the road to successful implementation of NGSS

So what’s the connection between growth mindset and NGSS? It begins with our own mindsets. We need to know that the implementation of NGSS will be hard work. We will struggle, have a small success, then find ourselves back in the struggle again. For example, you taught a lesson on transfer of energy, and you are feeling pretty good until you realize that you didn’t even begin to address the crosscutting concepts. As teachers, we need to be okay with that. We have to give ourselves and the colleagues with whom we’re collaborating the permission to make mistakes and try again.

Mistakes equal learning for us as educators. Every time we grapple with a new situation, make a mistake, and learn from it, we grow brain neurons. So not only are we growing our mindset, but we are also growing our brains. Pretty impressive for an experienced educator to consider: I am really still learning!

The same is true for our students. We have to be ready to encourage risk taking among our students and to help foster the growth mindset and culture of learning and respect in the classroom. We will have to help students unlearn some of their expectations that you, the teacher, are going to give them the answer. Students will need to see that grappling with concepts is where the real learning happens. Students will need to be praised for work they do, when they persevere and develop a deep understanding, and solve meaningful, relevant problems.

I wanted to know what others thought about this topic, so I sought other educators’ opinions, and this is some of what I heard:

I agree wholeheartedly. It is a work in progress, as all new initiatives are: Grab your bearings and hold on. It’s not going to be easy. But in theory, it’s just applying the best teaching techniques from your personal teacher toolbox. (Third-grade teacher Tricia Dennis)

I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been playing with NGSS for [more than two] years, and now officially have one semester of our actual NGSS physics class under my belt. I have learned and reflected on so much and have found huge growth as a professional during this process. I am actually grateful for the change. It is really forcing me to rethink my practice and step outside my comfort zone. (High school science teacher, Teacher on Special Assignment, Becky McKinney)

I agree. Students are asked to continually and iteratively improve explanations for phenomena and designs that solve problems. I don’t think you can even start day [one] of any unit without understanding how critical it is to support and foster all students in seeking improvement. (Regional Science Coordinator Brian MacNevin)

Agree. For both students and teachers. It’s a requirement for the ideas of revision and essential to inquiry. Students need it as they try things that haven’t been done before, and teachers need to foster it in their students and themselves as they seek to differentiate and match education to students’ prior knowledge and experience. (High school science teacher and NGSS Instructional Coach Janet Lee)

Last but not least are the words from my NGSS eduhero:

It is absolutely critical. As you’ve heard me say, there must be a sliding scale of quality as we implement new standards. I know them as well as anyone, yet I still learn something new all the time. You just have to know to look for and expect growth. (Stephen Pruitt, Commissioner of Education at the Kentucky Department of Education)

We need to remember this transitioning to NGSS is a journey or a sliding scale of improvement, as Stephen says. We need to give ourselves and our students permission to be learners and builders of understanding on this journey.

Interesting Resources to Check Out

_______________________________________

Kathy Renfrew

Kathy Renfrew is the field editor for Next Gen Navigator. She is K-5 Science coordinator on the Proficiency Based Learning Team at the Vermont Agency of Education, as well as an NGSS@NSTA curator and online advisor in the NSTA Learning Center. She is also worked with a committee of educators and Achieve to develop model content frameworks for elementary science, particularly for grades 4 and 5. Kathy previously taught grades 4 through 6 in a self-contained classroom for more than 30 years. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and a 2000 recipient of the elementary Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching. 
 
Visit NSTA’s NGSS@NSTA Hub for hundreds of vetted classroom resources, professional 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.

Future NSTA Conferences

2017 National Conference

STEM Forum & Expo

Follow NSTA

Facebook icon Twitter icon LinkedIn icon Pinterest icon G+ icon YouTube icon Instagram icon
 

 

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The Green Room: How Climate Change Affects Our Diet

Last year was the warmest year on record. Consequences of a warmer world include melting glaciers, rising sea levels, droughts, flooding, heat waves, and extreme weather. But how does climate change affect our food?

Time magazine describes a “climate-change diet” that may force us to give up some popular foods made scarce by warmer temperatures and extreme weather (Worland 2016). Conversely, some food sources actually benefit from increased temperatures or more atmospheric CO2. For example, potato crops in Northern Europe have a longer growing season these days.

Still, other food species may suffer. Coffee, for example, is sensitive to increased drought conditions and pest populations. Many commercially valuable fish species in the United States have moved north to cooler waters. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that American lobster, red hake, and black sea bass have moved up the east coast by more than 161 km since the late 1960s. Atlantic cod populations have declined for several decades due to warmer ocean temperatures (Meng, Oremus, and Gaines 2016). The EPA offers an excellent summary of climate impacts on our food supply.

Climate change and crops
To look specifically at the effects of climate change on crops, use the climate hot map produced by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Or check out National Geographic’s graphical depiction and explanation of climate change effects on crop production around the world. Finally, the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future has developed an extensive agriculture curriculum with a climate change lesson plan that covers the basics of climate change and its effects on food production.

Climate change and fish
Have your students listen to an 11-minute podcast featuring Roger Griffis, climate change coordinator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries. He presents a firsthand account of how fisheries respond to changes in fish populations.

For a chemistry perspective, students can watch a video about the effect of ocean acidification on shellfish harvests. Allow your students to explore the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences OceanAdapt website. Changes in distribution are clearly visible for more than 100 marine species, and students can plot data by species, region, date, latitude, and depth.

Conclusion
Although it is unclear exactly what a “climate-change diet” may be, evidence shows that warmer temperatures affect our food supply. What we eat and where those species live are among the many changes at hand in this warming world.

Amanda Beckrich (aabeckrich@gmail.com) is the Upper School assistant director, International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program coordinator, and an environmental science teacher at Christ Church Episcopal School in Greenville, South Carolina.

References
Meng, K.C., K.L. Oremus, and S.D. Gaines. 2016. New England cod collapse and the climate. PLoS ONE 11 (7): e0158487.
Worland, J. Time. 2016. The Climate-Change Diet. December 26.

Editor’s Note

This article was originally published in the March 2017 issue of The Science Teacher journal from the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).

Get Involved With NSTA!

Join NSTA today and receive The Science Teacher,
the peer-reviewed journal just for high school teachers; to write for the journal, see our Author GuidelinesCall for Papers, and annotated sample manuscript; connect on the high school level science teaching list (members can sign up on the list server); or consider joining your peers at future NSTA conferences.

Posted in The Science Teacher | Leave a comment