In September, an enthusiastic group of teachers and Johnson & Johnson volunteers participated in the first stage of a collaboration that is bringing hands-on STEM2D learning to 240 students throughout Panama. Teachers and volunteers gathered at the Johnson & Johnson offices in Panama City for two days of professional development (PD) that focused on integrating this learning using the STC Rocks and Minerals unit.
From June 18th through the 23rd, 18 teachers from across the country gathered in Washington, DC, to learn about biodiversity at this year’s Biodiversity Smithsonian Science Education Academy for Teachers, or SSEAT. The participants went behind the scenes at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, spent time in the museum’s Q?rius Lab, and traveled to Edgewater, Maryland, to visit the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. Throughout the week, teachers were able to explore fields such an entomology, paleobiology, ecology, scientific illustration, and ornithology with Smithsonian scientists and researchers as well as experts from the U.S. Department of Energy, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
An important theme throughout the Biodiversity SSEAT was how numerous fields of study are interrelated with the sciences. In particular, there was a focus on the integration of the arts with STEM (the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), which creates the concept of STEAM. Although the concept of STEAM was present throughout the week, it was most prevalent during Sally Bensusen’s session called “Integrating STEM and the Arts.” Working as a scientific illustrator for over 30 years, Ms. Bensusen had a variety of techniques and activities to share with the teachers.
Sally Bensusen instructs a participant on how to use a microscope for scientific illustration.
Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” During the week of July 24-28th at the 2017 K–12 Science Education Institute for Leadership Development and Strategic Planning, seven teams consisting of district and school administrators, teachers, and community members became the pilots of change. Committed to implementing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) into their school communities, each team had the task of devising a 5-year strategic plan using the Smithsonian Science Education Center’s Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform (LASER) model. With sessions led by both Smithsonian Science Education Center staff and experienced faculty from around the country and beyond, these schools and districts became equipped to change the lives of their students.
What an experience! I recently participated in the Smithsonian Science Education Academy for Teachers on Biodiversity, a week-long professional development program, and all I can say is “WOW!” Once I arrived in Washington, D.C. I realized that I was in for an unbelievable educational and personal experience.
Digital technology is quickly becoming a central part of our lives. But in our digital world, we cannot lose sight of the importance of tactile experiences in a science classroom. Dr. Carol O’Donnell argues that it’s not about resisting the shift to digital, instead, it is about finding ways for object-driven learning and digital learning to complement one another.
Summer vacation is often filled with fun activities but did you know that, on average, students lose two months worth of academic progress over the break? This is referred to as the “Summer Slide,” or the tendency for students to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year. In order to combat this, we have provided a list of free educational games to keep your student engaged and excited about learning all summer long!
Have you had a chance to check out Showbiz Safari in the SSEC Game Center? In this life science game, students take on the role of assistant casting director for Walrus! He has three kinds of movies to cast – but different roles require different kinds of organisms! Using their knowledge of diverse plant and animal life, students must make sure that Walrus casts the prefect character for each of his movies. Keep reading to learn more about some of the super cool organisms from the game!
The following blog was written by Dr. Reagan Flowers. Dr. Flowers is CEO of C-STEM and a member of the "Steering Committee" of experts on minority participation in teaching careers. She both presented at and helped to recruit teams of educators for the 2017 Teacher Leadership Summit sponsored by Shell Oil Company and hosted at Howard University in February.
The following blog was written by DCPS teacher Jonte Lee. Mr. Lee teaches at Woodrow Wilson Senior High School in the District of Columbia and brought a team of fellow educators to the 2017 Teacher Leadership Summit sponsored by Shell Oil Company and hosted at Howard University in February. The summit guided teams in creating logic models for attracting, retaining, and developing a diverse STEM teaching workforce.
More than 300 educators from across Central New York converged on Nov. 8 for a "Lesson Study Elementary Science Conference"--perhaps the first of its kind in the US--that offered four “live” research lessons based on SSEC units in which students and teachers engaged in practices aligned with New York's State new science standards while participants observed and took notes.
The Director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center, Dr. Carol O’Donnell, and the Director of Professional Services, Amy D'Amico, PhD held a seminar in Mexico City November 16 and 17, 2016. This seminar, hosted by INNOVEC, was a transcendent event in many ways.
The Smithsonian Science Education Center is excited to host guest bloggers Sharon Dotger, Associate Professor of Science Education in the School of Education at Syracuse University, and Jessica Whisher-Hehl, Science Coordinator for OCM BOCES’ Center for Innovative Science Education!
Fall 2016 National Advisoary Board Meeting
The Smithsonian Science Education Center held its fall national advisory board events which included a materials center tour, board dinner and board meeting in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina, one of the states where SSEC tested the efficacy of its Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform (LASER) model. The tour was held on Monday, October 17th at the Johnston county industries materials center (JCI) in Selma, NC.
The Neville-Pribram Mid-Career Educators Awards allow mid-career educators to be in residence and utilize the Smithsonian Libraries distinctive collections, focusing on science, history, culture and arts. The awards are open to middle & high school teachers, college teachers, and museum educators working on curriculum development or publications in print or electronic form. The Library offers excellent resources for developing curricula relating to Common Core, Core Arts Standards, and Advanced Placement curricula.
The Smithsonian Libraries is pleased to offer a call for applicants for the 2017 Neville-Pribram Mid-Career Educators Award. The National Museum of Natural History Library is the host library for the selected 2017 Educator. The National Museum of Natural History Libraries consists of the main location (on the 1st floor and basement of the NMNH's East Court) and 11 specialized collections throughout the NMNH building totaling more than 500,000 volumes. These collections are located within the NMNH Entomology, Invertebrate Zoology, Botany, Vertebrate Zoology, Mineral Sciences and Paleobiology departments.
We’re sure that you’ve played (and can’t stop playing) our physical science game BumperDucks. In case you haven’t, here’s the gist: in BumperDucks your job is to help a wayward band of ducks reach their final destinations – tasty treats! With the help of collisions and rebounding you can slingshot these ducks to victory. BumperDucks is all about the laws of motion and how we can utilize their effects once we figure out how they work!
The Smithsonian Science Education Center teamed up with the South Carolina Coalition for Mathematics and Science and the South Carolina Afterschool Alliance to host the 2016 Next Steps Institute in Charleston, SC on September 26-28th. Close to 300 individuals and teams from across the country came together to gain advanced leadership training in one of seven different Pathway topics. Dr.
Dr. Carol O’Donnell welcoming NC educators to the Smithsonian Image: Sarah Wells/Smithsonian Science Education Center
Editor’s Note: The following is a transcript of an interview conducted with Kim Van Eaton. Some answers have been lightly edited for clarity.
Here at the Smithsonian Science Education Center, we’re passionate about science communication and creating an infectious love of science. As part of this mission, our director, Dr. Carol O’Donnell, met with science teachers in Washington State this June to talk about the importance of science education. While there she meet 6th grade teacher Kim Van Eaton from Marie Curie STEM Elementary School. Kim had nothing but kind words to say about STCTM and how the kit had changed her teaching of science! It’s always heartwarming to hear that your work has impacted someone’s life in a positive way. We wanted to know a little more about how Kim has been affected by STC and SSEC, so we got in touch to hear more of her thoughts.
International Conference on Improving the Learning of Biology
During April 13th through 16th Dr. Carol O’Donnell and the Director of Professional Services Dr. Amy D’Amico attended an International Conference on Improving the Learning of Biology and Other Related Science in the K-12 School Year in Santiago, Chile. The conference focused on inquiry based science education, and Dr. O’Donnell presented the results of the Smithsonian Science Education Center’S 5-year research trial of the LASER model.
Lindsey Nickerson, science teacher at Eaton Middle School and one of SSEC’s Colorado LASER site coordinators, was selected as the Denver Broncos Tackle STEM Coach of the month for January. This award provided an opportunity of a lifetime: a STEM-based tour of the Broncos’ stadium for her and her students. After nominating Lindsey for this award, I was thrilled to be included as a chaperone on the trip to the stadium.
Do you want to teach engineering in your classroom? Go for it; it’s not as hard as you might think. This is just the subject that Pamela Lottero-Purdue and I presented at the 2015 Smithsonian Science Education Forum. Throughout the day, attendees from all education backgrounds were able to see and participate in activities that bring engineering to life in any educational setting.
Metacognition is one of those terms thrown around education circles like tryptophan during Thanksgiving. It sounds good, and makes us seem smart, but we aren’t really sure what’s happening below the surface.
I’ve always believed that one of the best ways to understand something is to compare it with something it’s not. Turkey is NOT chicken. Hitting the snooze button is NOT getting out of bed. Metacognition is NOT cognition.
Cognition is the way we organize and store new information. It’s how we think and process information.
Lab Out Loud started as an experiment. Could we bring a conversation about science education to a wider audience by delivering it through a new medium? After eight years, our audio podcast has developed into a passion that we've been fortunate to share with our listeners; every episode continues to teach us new things.
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