Science Teachers “Speak Up” About Technology in the Classroom

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Science teachers are savvy users of instructional technology. They use a multitude of digital resources to help students explore and learn, to differentiate instruction, support collaborative classroom projects, and develop formative assessments. Science teachers also use technology (a lot) and rely on the Internet and webinars to help them increase their content knowledge, prepare for a lesson, or share ideas with others.

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Focus on Physics: When Our Round Earth Was First Measured

Building an Understanding of Physical Principles

Our Earth is round, although it was not always thought to be that way. It looks flat. But if the Earth is viewed from a tall building, especially near the ocean when the horizon is clear, its curvature can be seen with the naked eye. This is helped with the aid of a straightedge held

Figure 1. From a high elevation, a straightedge held at arm’s length shows that the horizon is not quite level but curved.

Figure 1. From a high elevation, a straightedge held at arm’s length shows that the horizon is not quite level but curved.

at arm’s length aligned with the horizon (Figure 1), a popular activity of residents of tall high-rises near the seashore. 

Eratosthenes’ observations
The first person credited with measuring the roundness of Earth was the Greek scholar and geographer Eratosthenes of Cyrene in 235 BC. This man of learning was the chief librarian at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt. Just as the Sun and Moon are round, Eratosthenes assumed Earth was also round. He proceeded to measure “how round” and more.

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NSTA’s K-College September 2016 Science Education Journals Online

September 2016 Journals

Want to know how to maximize the products your elementary students make? What about getting fresh ideas for your middle school classroom? Looking for ideas on how to help your high school students understand the natural world through the construction of scientific models? Want to engage college students in meaningful outdoor learning experiences? The September K–College journals from the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) have the answers you need. Written by science teachers for science teachers, these peer-reviewed journals are targeted to your teaching level and are packed with lesson plans, expert advice, and ideas for using whatever time/space you have available. Browse the September issues; they are online (see below), in members’ mailboxes, and ready to inspire teachers.

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Teens Flock to Science Cafés

Science cafés—events held in casual, social venues where attendees can listen to and interact with scientists—have become common worldwide. Many U.S. science cafés are modeled after Café Scientifique, a United Kingdom–based grassroots network of science cafés organized by Duncan Dallas in 1998. When Michelle Hall and Michael Mayhew heard Dallas speak about Café Scientifique at a 2006 American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, they wondered if the same model could provide “a way to have high school students challenge themselves about what they believe [about science] and why, and how science and technology are changing their lives,” says Hall, a geophysicist, science educator, and president and chief executive officer of Science Education Solutions, a research and development company in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

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Dept. of Ed Releases Proposed Rules on Title I Spending

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On August 31 the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released proposed regulations to implement the supplement-not-supplant requirement in Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The rules were quickly denounced by top Republicans and will likely set the stage for a battle over implementing the new federal education law in the waning days of the Obama administration.

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7 Sessions for Connecting Elementary Science + Literacy

7 Sessions for Connecting Elementary Science + Literacy

The upcoming NSTA Minneapolis conference, taking place October 27-29, will have a number of sessions dedicated to celebrating elementary science and literacy connections. Children are born investigators. Science is an engaging way to develop students’ skills in thinking creatively, expressing themselves, and investigating their world. Reading, writing, and speaking are inspired through science experiences. Educators attending these sessions will gain confidence in teaching science, learn strategies for literacy and science integration, and celebrate elementary science. The 7 sessions are just a sample of what #NSTA16 attendees can expect. 

Native Plants and Seeds, Oh My! (Thursday, October 27 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM)

  • Cultivate new learning with a unit developed for upper elementary students that embeds reading and writing with a study of botany featuring native seeds and plants.

Developing and Implementing NGSS-Focused Curriculum in Gillette, WY: Strategies and Tools for Elementary Science and Literacy Integration (Thursday, October 27 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM) Continue reading …

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Explore the ways you can incorporate STEM into your classroom with these 8 #NSTA16 Minneapolis sessions

Explore the ways you can incorporate STEM into your classroom with these 8 #NSTA16 Minneapolis sessions

The upcoming NSTA Minneapolis conference, taking place October 27-29, is the place to be for teachers looking for ways to incorporate STEM in their classroom. STEM can be a powerful unifying theme across the curriculum and in many settings. STEM provides an opportunity for collaboration among teachers, disciplines, and schools, as well as postsecondary, informal education, and community partners. Educators attending sessions in this strand will explore models of integrated STEM education programs, learn strategies to productively STEMify lessons, and investigate how to effectively engage students. Check out the 8 sessions below to see what #NSTA16 has for your STEM implementation needs. 

Building Bridges: Engineering in the Elementary Classroom (Thursday, October 27 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM)

  • Learn about a unique collaboration that engaged students in STEM, literacy, and the arts.  Participate in a portion of our lessons and experience firsthand the power of collaboration and building bridges together.

If They Make It, They Will Learn: The Maker Movement and K–12 STEM (Thursday, October 27 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM) Continue reading …

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8 sessions during #NSTA16 for Teaching in this Technology Driven World

8 sessions during #NSTA16 for Teaching in this Technology Driven World

The upcoming NSTA Minneapolis conference, taking place October 27-29, is the place to be for teachers looking for new ways to teach in this technology driven world. Students and teachers have access to many forms of technology and these technologies can be effective tools to access information, deliver instruction, communicate ideas, connect with people from around the world, and build professional learning networks. Educators attending these sessions will explore instructional materials, technologies and strategies for effective learning for students and adults, and responsible use of digital resources and processes. Below are 8 sessions that every science educator attending the area conference should go to.

Searching for Spielberg (Thursday, October 27 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM)

  • Providing examples from physical and life science, as well as using multiple types of devices and apps, we will share how student-created videos can improve peer review and scientific communication, encourage critical thinking, and enhance data collection.

NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System: Bringing the Planets to Your Classroom’s Computers (Thursday, October 27 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM)

  • Bring the solar system to your classroom using this free online tool from NASA. Explore planets, spacecraft, and more!.

Citizen Science: Projects and Activities to Engage Students in Authentic Science Research (Friday, October 28 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM)

  • Explore citizen science projects that can engage your students in authentic science data collection and investigation as they contribute to big datasets.

Engaging Students in Science through Virtual Field Trips (Friday, October 28 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM)

  • Tap into how to use social media and internet resources to design a “virtual field trip” for your students through the integration of science, ELA, and social studies

Evolution for Educators (Friday, October 28 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM)

  • Explore how the Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science strives to meet the needs of middle school science teachers as they cover the NGSS disciplinary core idea: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity.

Exploring the Trade-Offs and Payoffs of Sustainable Bioenergy Through Simulations and Field Data (Saturday, October 29 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM)

  • Students play an online game and analyze current data from university research to construct arguments about the most sustainable methods for growing bioenergy crops.

Dissecting Animals? Frog-get About It! (Saturday, October 29 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM)

  • Get hands-on experience with dissection software programs, covering educational efficacy, economic benefits, and current laws/policies regarding the use of animals in science.

Using News Media to Learn About Science in the Connected Science Classroom (Saturday, October 29 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM)

  • The new science framework calls for increased use of news media, including online news. We will examine issues with this and provide some solutions.

Register to attend here—and don’t forget, NSTA members get a substantial discount!

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Vernier Go! Link: Hand Dynamometer

 

 

Vernier’s Go! Link is a single-channel USB interface used to connect many Vernier sensors directly to a Windows or Macintosh computer. This device can be connected into a USB port and can be used to connect of a variety of sensors. For this review, we used a Hand Dynamometer, which is designed to measure grip strength.

To begin using Vernier’s Go! Link, the first step is to load a software package known as Logger Lite. Logger Lite is Vernier’s free data-collection software system and includes graphics (see Figure 1).  To load Logger Lite onto your device (e.g., laptop, microcomputer, etc.) go to [http://www.vernier.com/products/software/logger-lite/] for an upload. Another option worth consideration is the possibility of using Logger Pro, which although it is more versatile, it comes at a cost of $249.00. The Logger Pro software can be found at:

Logger Pro: http://www.vernier.com/products/software/lp/

 

Figure 1. Sample Logger Lite Display

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Vernier Go! Link

The Go!Link USB sensor interface is a quick and affordable way to get started with data-collection technology. It’s a single-channel interface that connects most Vernier sensors to your computer or Chromebook USB port.

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Setting up data-collection experiments is as simple as 1-2-3:

  1. Plug the Go!Link to a USB port and a sensor into the Go!Link.
  2. Start the data-logging software.
  3. Click on the “Collect” button to see a real-time graph!

 

Image 1. Vernier’s Hand Dynamometer

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Surveying student perceptions

11093465225_95df3e80fa_mI want to study my middle school students’ perceptions of what and how they are learning in science. Do you have any suggestions other than a traditional survey? —R., Ohio

I found some research on the topic at Drawn to Science: Studying Science Teaching and Learning Through Drawings.  The authors examined “how the science teaching identity of the teacher interns/teachers changed over time” based on their experiences. Rather than a traditional questionnaire, this study used drawings as evidence. Periodically, the teacher-participants responded to two prompts:

  • Draw yourself teaching science
  • Draw your students learning science

The methodology and the scoring rubric are on the website. It’s interesting to examine how drawings represent a teacher’s self-image of the teaching and learning processes and the perceived roles of teachers and students in these processes.

Another part of the website targets educators, offering:

  • Lesson plans with suggestions for asking students to draw their interpretations of science learning. Follow-up discussion questions are included.
  • A description of the action research process and how drawings can be a data tool.

These lessons could be used several times throughout the year, perhaps with student notebooks, to monitor how students’ perceptions change over time and reflect on how student perceptions align with yours. It might be interesting to draw something yourself to compare to the students’ work.

But I wouldn’t discount traditional surveys. Although paper-and-pencil surveys are time-consuming to analyze, online tools (such as Google Docs) can efficiently survey students and aggregate the results into a spreadsheet document. The same survey can be used for different classes and at multiple times during the year to track student responses for your analysis and reflection.

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