The STATellite (June 2016)

Page 1

Puneet Singh Gill

5 STEM Toolboxes 8 Digital Insect Collections 15


Andrew Brinker

Paul Eyler, M.Ed

I3 - Ignite Innate Inquiry: It all Starts with a QUESTION

S TATe l l i te

2016 Summer Issue

Volume 60 Issue 2

Andrea S. Foster, PhD

Cultivating Creativity in 21st Century Science Classrooms: The Fourth “C” p. 19

Invitation to Exhibit and Participate in Earth Day Texas and Earth Tank 2017 p. 11

The Official Publication of the Science Teachers Association of Texas

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JUNE 2016

Upcoming Events 2016

4 STEM Toolboxes....................................... 5 Digital Insect Collections...................... 8 President’s Column................................


Summer Leadership Institute San Antonio, TX THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 10

CAST 2016: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants San Antonio, TX THURSDAY, March 30

NSTA Annual Convention Los Angeles, CA

Invitation to Exhibit and Participate in Earth Day Texas and Earth Tank 2017..............................................................


I3 - Ignite Innate Inquiry: It all starts with a great QUESTION.........................


Cultivating Creativity in 21st Century Science Classrooms: The Fourth “C”..................................................


STAT Contacts...........................................


For more information and events visit us online at:


The Official Publication of The Science Teachers Association of Texas

President’s Column


elcome to another exciting year as a STAT member! The Summer STATellite offers me the chance to accomplish several things. First on the list is a hearty congratulations to the end of the school year and a well-deserved summer break. I hope you take the next couple of months to relax, refresh, and recharge. Secondly, I would like to introduce myself as the incoming President of STAT, since June 1st. I am a physics teacher at Richardson High School and have been a member of STAT for six years and actively involved in leadership positions for the past five years. I have relished the opportunity to represent the science teachers of Texas in the past and look forward to the challenge of doing so as President for the upcoming year. Lastly and probably the most important item on the list is that this page provides me with a venue to articulate current STAT priorities and identify upcoming initiatives that STAT has planned for the future. At the legislative level, one issue of importance that was introduced in the Spring STATellite was the

Science TEKS Streamlining process undertaken by the Texas Education Agency. At this point, the committees of science teachers from different disciplines and teaching grade levels designed to undertake this process are still under formation. As this process begins in earnest, I will be updating STAT members through the STATellite as well as well as through the STAT website (http://www. At the STAT level, I would like to tell you about three specific member benefits to assist you as a science educator in Texas: (1) Get involved by volunteering for STAT in a variety of capacities such as serving in a leadership role on the Executive Committee or as a member on the various STAT committees; agreeing to review abstracts for future CAST programs (CAST 2017 will be here sooner than you think); or serving as a volunteer at CAST. (2) Get informed by tuning in to the latest happenings relevant to the Texas science teacher from Austin to the classroom through our website and various social media vehi-

George Hademenos STAT President

cles such as Facebook and Twitter. (3) Get excited about the single event of the year where you will learn about the latest, greatest, innovative and creative ways to engage your students, all while enjoying the sites and surroundings of San Antonio. Yes, I am talking about CAST 2016: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants on November 10 – 12, 2016. Make your plans now to attend CAST 2016 in San Antonio. I look forward to the upcoming 2016 ‒ 2017 year as President of STAT and trust that you will take advantage of the legislative, leadership, and professional development offerings available to you as a STAT member. I hope to see everyone in San Antonio at CAST 2016.

Volume 60 Issue 2


STEM Toolboxes By Puneet Singh Gill, Assistant Professor, Texas A&M International University - Laredo, TX


he National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) supports the fact that inquiry should be the basis of curriculum in the elementary grades. Moreover, reports published by NSTA stresses that exposure to science can help students develop “problem solving skills that

boxes. These “toolboxes” contain pictures of basic scientific and math tools, what units are used, and how each tool utilizes math. If students learn about basic scientific tools, teachers can scaffold the tools in higher grades. This can help students to think critically about what famil-

empower them to participate in an increasingly scientific and technological world” (NSTA, 2015, para.1). Nonetheless, interrelating knowledge can be difficult if students do not have a contextual understanding of science and math concepts in early elementary grades. One method to help students with the contextual knowledge needed in math and science is use STEM tool-

iar and unfamiliar tools can be used in investigations or experiments. STEM toolboxes can be implemented with a variety of creative materials such as shoe boxes, a toolbox created from construction paper, old Maxwell house containers, or other containers that can be adapted to insert pictures of various science and math tools. The key is to give students

a variety of pictures of the same tool and to ask students to find tools they use in their everyday lives that relate to science and math measurement. Students can then share and invent games with their peers to reinforce the use of different tools and be exposed to a variety of different tools with similar functions. For example, a basic junior mechanical balance, electronic balances, spring scales, pan balances, and a triple beam balance measure substances with equivalent metric weights but function differently. Students can learn this through recognition of different pictures of the tools. Teachers can also extend the use of the STEM toolbox in order to categorize tools. For example, the toolboxes can be used to create concept maps of how they would categorize the tools based on similarities and differences using Venn diagrams, or hanging mobiles to display and differentiate the tools and their math functions. In upper grades, students can classify tools using dichotomous keys to think about the similarities and differences between their functions. Once students



The Official Publication of The Science Teachers Association of Texas

STEM Toolboxes (continued)

(National Research Council, 2012, R10). Resource: National Research Council. (2012). A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts and core ideas. Committee on a Conceptual Framework for New K-12 Science Education Standards. Board on Science Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

have mastered the use of the tools for both scientific and mathematical thinking, they can then be challenged to create investigations that target how they would use these tools to solve problems in their own lives. If students are exposed to a variety of scientific tools and understand the connections between these tools and more familiar ones in early elementary grades, students can think critically about how problem solve are relate scientific and technical knowledge. Currently, there is a low percentage of students who are motivated by school and out-of-school experiences, and jobs will require these experiences. The

purpose of STEM toolboxes is to motivate students to use scientific tools, to be confidant in their abilities, and more importantly to engage students in the “practices of science over multiple years of school�

National Science Teachers Association. (2015). NSTA Position Statement: Elementary Science. Retrieved from positions/elementary.aspx


The Official Publication of The Science Teachers Association of Texas

Digital Insect Collections By Andrew Brinker, Science Teacher, Paschal High School - Fort Worth Independent School District


nsects are by far the most diverse, and ecologically important group of animals on the planet. Historically, students have studied insects through collections that include capturing, euthanizing and pinning individuals with identification tags. Some of the more common problems with this technique include the chance of being stung/bitten, costs of supplies, and the always controversial use of euthanasia. This article describes how to create a digital insect collection, which avoids the potential issues of injury, cost and euthanasia. Insects can be found on any High School campus in Texas, although the time of year is critical. The most productive season is springtime, when flowers are blooming and temperatures are rising. This lab should therefore be completed towards the end of the school year, and is an excellent final project following STAAR/AP testing. This lab activity can be used grade school teachers all the way through AP Biology, by modifying the directions and requirements. In an elementary

class the students could take photos of flying insects and identify them using common names such as beetle, dragonfly, fly, mosquito etc. The example outlined below is from an AP Biology class at Paschal High School. This lab lasts one week and begins Monday with a discussion of general insect anatomy, physiology and an overview of major insect orders. Some of the common misconceptions and key points about insects can be found in Figure 1. Tuesday through Thursday should be spent out-of-doors in search of insects. Each day students are required to photograph six different insects from at least five orders, which is easily accomplished in a 45 minute class. Using a biology text book, the internet or a dichotomous key, the students return to the classroom to identify the order of each insect. If students don’t have at least five orders they should go back outside to photograph new insects, and can also complete the lab during lunch or at home (student become much more efficient as the week progresses).

Students then utilize an app, snapchat, PowerPoint or a myriad of other editing tools to add the name of each order onto the photographs along with the date of the collection (Figure 2 was created with the LiPix app). This photo is the final product that can be turned in to the teacher through email each day. The project concludes with assessment on Friday. The assessment could be in the form of a lab practical with different insects laid out at stations and questions about unique characteristics or basic taxonomy. The specimens for the lab practical can be collected throughout the week by the teacher or students. A paper test with matching, short answer and multiple choice questions can be used in addition or in substitution of the lab practical. This lab can also be easily modified for plants with students photographing flowers or leaves.


Volume 60 Issue 2


Digital Insect Collections (continued)

Figure 1: Key points and misconceptions.

• pill bugs or roly-polies

are not insects but terrestrial Crustaceans

• bugs are only found in the order Hemiptera

• spiders, ticks and mites are arachnids

• beetles make up nearly a third of all described insect species

• insects have an open

circulatory system, without blood vessels

• insects are segmented with a three part body plan

• microclimates are found underneath rocks, logs, boards

• rocks, logs, boards

should be returned to original position

• Hymenoptera and Isoptera are orders of social insects with specialized caste systems

• each day begin by calling on students and asking questions similar to the assessment

Figure 2: Example of an AP Biology collage, including insect orders and the date of the collection.

Figure 2


Volume 60 Issue 2


Invitation to Exhibit and Participate in Earth Day Texas and Earth Tank 2017


Lovins, co-founder, chairman and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute.

EDTx had something for everyone, including exhibits, speakers, student field trips, live local music, a KERA Family Zone, an eco-film series, a local food market and a sustainable beer garden. EDTx is the signature annual expo and forum for sharing the latest initiatives, discoveries, research, innovations, policies, products and corporate practices reshaping the world.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has approved EDTx as a continuing education (CPE) provider for teacher certification. EDTx strives to bring environmental issues to the forefront and educate as many people as possible about the latest innovations and research in the environmental space. CPE credits are available for educators attending sessions on literary studies, the arts, economics, outdoor education, business, social studies, math and all fields of science.

ore than 130,000 people convened at this year’s Earth Day Texas (EDTx) 2016 at the end of April for the world’s largest annual green exhibition at Dallas’ Fair Park.

Weekend highlights included talks by leaders and luminaries such as Ted Roosevelt IV, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, Karenna Gore and Space Architect Constance Adams each day. Other speakers included Guro Grytli Seim, cofounder and COO of One Earth Designs, Laura Turner Seydel, ecoliving expert and chairperson of Captain Planet Foundation, Leilani Münter, racecar driver and environmental activist, and Amory

EDTx formed a new funding opportunity called Earth Tank Prize, an initiative of EDTx in concert with the Dallas Festival of Ideas (DFOI) that awarded a total of $25,000 in prize money to three environmental non-profit groups with important conservation and sustainability projects in Texas. Inspired by Mark Cuban’s popular show Shark Tank, the Earth Tank Prize allowed non-profits participating in EDTx 2016 to present their innovative ideas for conservation and environmental protection to a selection committee. A panel of judges assembled by EDTx and DFOI then evaluated the projects



The Official Publication of The Science Teachers Association of Texas

Invitation to Exhibit and Participate in Earth Day Texas and Earth Tank 2017 (continued) drone to monitor air quality. Judges were impressed by the direct impact of the solution, and judge Will Rogers of Deep Vellum Publishing called the idea the “best combination of presentation, strategy, and content. Scalability, public engagement with an innovative solution that fills a critical gap—and the $3,000 will make a difference.” based on their positive environmental impact as well as their related impact in one or more of the following focus areas: education, health, literacy, downtown or suburban jobs and entrepreneurship. Here’s a look at this year’s winners:

Downwinders at Risk, a citizen-action group devoted to clean air issues in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, picked up the firstcategory prize for $3,000. The organization’s proposal focused on purchasing and utilizing an airborne

Trinity Environmental Academy, the South Dallas charter school that aims to teach children about nature through its unique, environment-focused curriculum, took the $7,000 second-round prize. The academy’s pitch, which contained detailed sample

Volume 60 Issue 2


Invitation to Exhibit and Participate in Earth Day Texas and Earth Tank 2017 (continued) graphics and tables with timelines and costs, centered on its creation of an “exceptional outdoor space” that features outdoor learning and shipping container classrooms. Judge Ron Stelmarski of Perkins+Will called the school’s efforts the creation of a much-needed “eco-ethos.” National Wildlife Federation claimed the $15,000 prize with its proposal on the declining monarch butterfly population. Specifically, the organization plans to use the Earth Tank prize money to support its Monarch Network efforts in Dallas and help implement Monarch Heroes, a program that engages students to create habitats for butterflies at their schools across Dallas Independent School District.

1. Exhibit at EDTx to highlight student science projects or conservation programs from their campus 2. Teachers can earn CPE credits for attending any of the speaker/panel sessions 3. Schools can bring a group of students on a field trip 4. Participate in the EDTx debate tournament or...

5. Host the Omni Globe on your campus Contact Rebecca Murry in Business Development K-12 Programming for more information on exhibiting and registering for Earth Day Texas and Earth Tank 2017 at 214-6328261 or via email at Be sure to visit the EDTx booth # 348 at CAST 2016: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants in San Antonio.

Environmental non-profit groups that are registered to exhibit at EDTx 2017 and are seeking funding for new or existing initiatives in Texas may submit proposals. There are 5 ways in which schools can participate in EDTx April 19-21, 2017:


TCES Spring Extravaganza 2016 The TCES Spring Extravaganza was an amazing day for Science and STEM education. Over 40 science teachers, administrators, specialists and experts gathered together at the Grapevine-Colleyville ISD Professional Development Center for a full day of learning from the best. Half of which were on Spring Break! We started with Dr. Julie Jackson and her fabulous Interactive Word Walls, next we heard about Science Cut-Ups from Rosemary Martin who sponsored lunch for the group, and then the renowned Dr. Barbara Ten Brink dazzled everyone with her STEM and 3D to 2D presentation, and finally we finished up the day with Kevin Fisher reporting on Streamlining the Science TEKS and a call for applicants to the committee. What a great way to help rebuild a wonderful organization that provides vital information for science teachers. We can’t wait until the next meeting with this dynamic organization.

Volume 60 Issue 2


I3 - Ignite Innate Inquiry It all starts with a great QUESTION

By Paul Eyler, M.Ed, Founder of / and Science Specialist at Region 7


re the sun and moon the same size? The answer may surprise you! We will delve into this example question shortly. With the profound opportunity of training science teachers across Texas, one of the most critical points of focus I initiate with teachers is great questioning strategies. This is where understanding trully starts…with a good question. As teachers, we ask ourselves, “why aren’t these kids getting it?” or “why don’t they seem interested in such and such?” It most likely goes back to the lack of a reason for learning. A lack of interest because there is nothing specifically engaging them intellectually.

dents to embark on an adventurous quest? Instead of trying to push them into learning the content, why not ignite that innate human desire of inquiry to seek out answers to things that puzzle us and challenge us. As a student, if you TOLD me to read chapter so and so and then answer the even questions at the end, what purpose do I truly have in doing this work? I would most likely do it out of compliance and not a desire to learn. This approach intellectually handicaps the natural learning process. Teachers should always begin with a reachable question. One that makes students WANT to think. One that has a potential

for multiple answers. One that is derived from their standards. It is imperative that the question be at a moderate level of challenge. This ensures that “low” students will try to embark on an answer and not just give up right out of the gate. It also ensures that “high” students aren’t bored out of their wits and end up disturbing the class with their antics. As mentioned earlier, a good question provides a reason for learning. This is what should push the student to discover…not just compliance to teacher demand. It is also a great intrinsic motivator (an internal reward mechanism) since most people WANT to find an answer to an enticing question.

However, most teachers feel ill-equipped to engage students with engaging multifaceted questions that cause students to be fully enamored with finding an answer. What many teachers lose sight of is the root word of “question.” It all goes back to “quest.” Do you call upon your stu-



The Official Publication of The Science Teachers Association of Texas

I3 - Ignite Innate Inquiry It all starts with a great QUESTION (continued) So let’s analyze the “simple” space question I proposed earlier: Are the sun and moon the same size?

tive assessment data because you won’t get that. Most students will look to the “smart” kid and follow

Before we actually answer this question, I want to walk you through the process of receiving answers.

them to either side without thinking for themselves. However, it is critical that students are given some independent quite think time first and then inform them that they are required to JUSTIFY their response with other students who have congregated to their same side.

A practical and engaging way to receive student responses to this question is to have them answer not with words but with their location within the classroom. What do I mean location? I do something called The Stand-up Yes/No True/False Survey whereby students must stand on either side of the room in accordance to which answer they give. So if ones thinks the answer to be TRUE or YES, they stand on the left side of the room. Now the point of this activity is not to gather accurate forma-

Now concerning our specific space question, the surprising multifaceted answer is: yes AND no! Yes, the sun and Moon are the same size AND No they are not the same size. The most likely response from students (and teachers) is NO and their justification tends to be observational measurements/data from

NASA spacecraft and other empirical evidences. Of course they are correct. However, I will stand on the YES side as the “antagonizer” (of which I’m usually the only one.) Now I am ALSO correct. “How can that be?” is the usual response I receive when supporting the lonely side of the class-sized answer sheet. That is when I direct them to the image in the slide show. “What do you see?” That is when the light begins to flicker to life in their minds and if you look closely, you can see this occurring through their facial expressions. Finally I get the answer, “A solar eclipse!” I then ask what the earth-bound observer notices about celestial sizes in this event based on the picture. Of course they studiously mention that both objects APPEAR to be the same size from the perspective of the observer. After the “oh’s and ah’s” wear off, I dig into the true goal of the question: differentiate between the two terms absolute and apparent. To make it fully set in to their neurons, I ask them to stretch out

Volume 60 Issue 2


I3 - Ignite Innate Inquiry It all starts with a great QUESTION (continued) their arms and stick their thumbs up…and make it so that their thumbs cover my head (I am standing across the room from them at a distance.) Finally I ask whether their thumbs are as big as my head or is my head as big as their thumbs. At this point we conclude with some math. Did you realize that a solar eclipse perfectly demonstrates a perfect ratio on an astronomical scale: the Sun’s diameter is 400x the size of the Moon while ALSO 400x the distance from the Moon. How awesome is that! And this is barring the fact that the only location in the known universe for this perfect occurrence just so happens to be where the only known intelligent life (observer) exist…good ‘ol planet Earth! The odds are literally beyond astronomical.

So what did my students discover from such a simple reachable question? They learned language (absolute and apparent), math (ratios / size / distance / scale), critical thinking (multifaceted answer choice of both a yes and no response), astronomy, and even social studies (this is when we explore how Mr. Columbus used his knowledge of eclipses to save his crew from the perturbed indigenous tribe of Jamaica.)

thought provoking questions that engage students on a quest to find answers.

So the sun and moon appear nearly the same size as seen from Earth. Yet we know they are absolutely different sizes. It’s all about perspective! By using what I call I3 – Ignite Innate Inquiry, teachers can guide students on the adventure of learning by asking great


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Volume 60 Issue 2


Cultivating Creativity in 21st Century Science Classrooms: The Fourth “C”

By Andrea S. Foster, PhD


uch of the 21st Century teaching and learning rhetoric emphasizes the development of the three C’s: Critical thinking, Communication, and Collaboration in our 21st Century learners. While these skills are indeed paramount to the education of all learners and our state standards do an excellent job of promoting their significance, I believe there is an opportunity to emphasize a highly important, often over-looked, fourth skill – Creativity -- in science classrooms of today. Texas science teachers provide the inspiration for our next generations of learners to develop the necessary scientific habits of mind such as curiosity, informed scepticism, and openness to new ideas and play a most significant role in establishing a science literate citizenry -- Americans who have the capacity to solve critical world problems of today. THE CREATIVITY CRISIS The July 2010 issue of Newsweek claimed that we are currently in a creativity crisis – American creativity

scores are falling. Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary made this discovery after analyzing 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults. According to Kim, the decrease is very significant, with the most serious decline apparent in children from Kindergarten to sixth grade (Bronson and Merryman, 2010). The potential consequences are far-reaching. The necessity of human ingenuity is unquestionable. They report an IBM poll in which 1,500 CEO’s identified creativity as the most essential leadership competency of the future, yet creativity is decreasing among Americans at time when it is most vital to the health of our future. “Creativity is necessary not simply to sustain our nation’s economic growth, but also to help solve significant world problems like saving the Gulf of Mexico, bringing peace to Afghanistan, and delivering health care” (p.45) So what is to blame for our waning creativity among school children? Likely culprits have been identified. Some claim it has

to do with the number of hours kids spend in front of their screens -- televisions, videogames, iPADs, iPhones, and other digital devices. Another is the lack of creativity development in our schools. Bronson and Merryman (2010) claim there is no concerted effort to nurture creativity in all children in schools today. Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally recognized speaker and creativity in education expert, makes an entertaining (and profoundly moving) case for creating an education system that nurtures creativity rather than undermining it. Robinson points out the many ways our schools fail to recognize – much less cultivate—the talents of many brilliant people. “We are educating people out of their creativity,” Robinson observes (Robinson, 2007). He points out many ways that our schools fail to recognize the talents of many brilliant people. Robinson claims that our schools are organized around an outdated factory model system where children are processed like automobiles



The Official Publication of The Science Teachers Association of Texas

Cultivating Creativity in 21st Century Science Classrooms: The Fourth “C” (continued) or widgets. The number of children who are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and are medicated is alarming. He claims that these children, who are living in the most stimulating and exciting time on Earth, are being, “anesthetized.” We are using exactly the wrong approaches to educating these children. They should not sedated or ‘anesthetized’; but, stimulated through the arts or what he calls, “Aesthetic Education” or education in the arts. It is the arts that open up minds to creative thinking and problem solving. LACK OF CREATIVITY IN TODAY’S SCIENCE CLASSROOMS As an observer and evaluator of science teacher candidates in elementary and middle school classrooms in area school districts, I have noticed that very little time is left for children to express themselves creatively. More than one third of the school day is dedicated to test preparation which mostly involves completing worksheets and paper pencil benchmark testing. My

teacher candidates struggle to negotiate the “ideal” inquiry-based classroom which they experience in the science methods classroom with the “reality” of the public school classroom where the emphasis is on worksheets and tests. They are often frustrated and disillusioned by the pedagogical disparities they face. The paradigm of our schools today must be shifted to make classrooms come alive, particularly at the elementary level, so that children are encouraged to think critically, solve problems, collaborate, and create. Although there is a current creativity crisis in America, previous eras (the one in which I grew up in) included the wonderful world of Walt Disney and drawing in Anti-Coloring Books where imagination and blank pages represented a world of endless possibility. Classrooms of today should be places where there are concerted efforts to nurture the creativity of all children, particularly in the sciences. The challenge is to design and model rigorous and relevant science experiences and inventive pedagogies for teaching

science that come alive in the elementary and middle school classroom with the hope that prospective elementary and middle school teachers use these strategies with their students. When did the science journal become more about cutting and pasting pre-made foldables and less about writing down authentic observations, original scientific musings, and illustrations? The lack of creativity in schools, according to most teachers, stems from pressure to meet curriculum standards. Researchers (Bronson and Merryman, 2010) say creativity should be taken out of the art room and put into the homeroom. The argument that we can’t teach creativity because kids already have too much to learn is a false trade off. Creativity is not about freedom from concrete facts. Rather, fact finding and deep research are vital stages in the creative process. With well-designed pedagogy, and project-based learning, curriculum standards can be met. Creativity is not just about art projects, it is about the

Volume 60 Issue 2


Cultivating Creativity in 21st Century Science Classrooms: The Fourth “C” (continued) thinking process students use to solve problems in all fields. Bronson and Merryman (2010) suggest that students need problems that require them to first fact-find, and then move to problem finding, ideafinding and then solutionfinding. This way, they are using divergent and convergent thinking to arrive at original solutions. The good news is that students can learn techniques for uncovering and leveraging their creative potential. Schools are essential in helping students learn these techniques. Teachers are key to making this happen. STRATEGIES FOR CULTIVATING CREATIVITY IN SCIENCE CLASSROOMS In my experience as science (and art) teacher over the past three decades I have accumulated a few everyday activities that promote creativity in the science classroom. These teaching strategies and practical activities work for teaching K-12 students about science and university students about science teaching. What is common among these examples

is that they are problem driven, emphasize critical thinking, have hands-on experiences and are taught in the context of topics that students confront in their own lives. The following are examples of activities that boost creative problem solving in science classrooms.

sample droodle.

It All Begins Droodle

Figure 1. A sample Droodle – A spider performing a handstand.



When my students enter the classroom, they are confronted with a drawing on the chalkboard (now a whiteboard) called a, “Droodle.” Droodles are both a drawing and a riddle. They are simple, yet complex and can be quite humorous. The idea of a droodle is to kick start creative thinking, to warm up the brain to encourage out-of-the-box thinking – even though droodles are always constructed inside a box. Children enjoy solving these droodles. Often their ideas were far more creative than the answer given in the Roger Price’s book of droodles. This type of warm up activity provides the necessary mental practice for problem solving and decision making. The following is a

Science never sucks! An excellent way to inspire creative problem solving and introduce the inquiry process is to begin the school year with a discrepant event or a simple problem to solve like the classic egg-in-the-bottle demonstration. On the very first day of class, skip the typical syllabus review and dictating of the classroom rules and ask students how to get a hard-boiled egg into an old-fashioned milk bottle without breaking the egg or breaking the bottle. The bottle with the egg can be on top of the teacher’s desk as the students come into the classroom. Most students will ask about the egg and the bottle and offer ways to solve the problem like pushing it in and using grease.



The Official Publication of The Science Teachers Association of Texas

Cultivating Creativity in 21st Century Science Classrooms: The Fourth “C” (continued) Eventually, with guided discussion, students might suggest lighting a match and placing it in the bottle with the egg on the top. When the match burns out, the air in the bottle escapes past the egg and creates a vacuum seal and a pressure differential. The egg appears to be “sucked” into the bottle which is exactly what the students will say. This provides a prime opportunity to help students understand that, “Science doesn’t suck!” The egg was actually pushed and pulled by unbalanced force created by the increase of air pressure outside of the bottle. Invite students to then figure out how to get the egg out of the bottle – invert the bottle and blow air past the egg creating another pressure change. Although the egg and bottle demonstration has been around for a many years, it still has tremendous impact on students’ thinking about the science of everyday things. Today’s science teachers have an arsenal of activities to draw from to liven up their classrooms including the work of Bill Nye the Science Guy®, Beakman from Beakman’s World®,

Sid the Science Kid®, Steve Wolf of Science in the Movies®, and even fictitious yet inspiring, Miss Frizzle®. The engaging works of all these science icons foster creativity in science classrooms. Creating Science Eyes Ask any elementary age child what their definition of science is and they will typically respond with something like this, “Science is the opposite of social studies.” This response is far too common and the reason for the response, in my view, is tragic. Science, like social studies, in most elementary schools is still being taught opposite social studies. The emphasis on reading and mathematics pushes science and social studies to the end of the day. It is often the case that science is not taught all. In order to prepare future elementary teachers to teach science, it is absolutely critical to develop ways to inspire teacher candidates to teach science in their classrooms. One approach to doing this is by inviting pre-service teachers to create their own pair of, “Science eyes.” Below is a

photograph of teacher candidates wearing their newly created science eyes! These science eyes help the teacher candidates inspire their future elementary students to view the world as scientists—to see things in a different light. Science eyes (Foster, 1994) represent a physical model and a conceptual metaphor for teacher candidates to think through the lens of science and connect science with other subjects such as mathematics, social studies, and language arts as they plan lessons for their students. The act of constructing these creative science eyes helps teacher candidates shift their teaching paradigms to centre teaching and learning around science. Many teacher candidates report that they have their students construct science eyes and wear them during their science lessons to encourage, “Thinking like a scientist.” C and the Box The story of C and the Box by Frank A. Prince (1993) is a parable and reveals that people must break free of old assump-

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Cultivating Creativity in 21st Century Science Classrooms: The Fourth “C” (continued) REFERENCES Bronson, P., & Merryman, A. (2012, July 19). The creativity crisis. Newsweek, 20, 45-50. Chrysikou, E. (2012, July/ August). Your creative brain at work. Scientific American Mind, 23(3), 24-31.

Figure 2. Teacher candidates model their Science eyes.

tions and limitations if they want to grow and develop. By exploring outside of a familiar box, C, the leading character, becomes a role model for creativity and imagination, and shows that changing the old way of doing things is necessary for progress. The book is powerful and inspires individuals, particularly teachers, to feel that they can 1) overcome the constraints of conformity and bureaucracy, 2) find new ways to solve problems, 3) discover inner strengths, 4) be creative, and 5) motivate

others by example. I read the book on the last day of classes to inspire my future science teachers to remember that they too have a “spring” in their boxes. I have each teacher candidate construct a box from paper and give them a small slinky to remind them to forget the worksheets, tests, and daily classroom drudgery. Be different. Go outside. Observe, record and illustrate the moon and other objects in the sky; look for patterns; try to get an egg in a bottle without breaking the egg or breaking the bottle to explore forces; create a pizza garden; take a field trip to the zoo, design investigations, create something!

Foster, A.S. (2016). Fostering creativity in the science classroom: Lessons learned from a Brigadier General. In M. Demeterikopoulos & J. Pecore (Eds.) The Interplay of Creativity and Giftedness in Science. The Netherlands: Sense Publications. Foster, A. S. (2003, April). Let the dogs out: The physics of bobble heads. Science Scope, 26 (17)16-19. Foster, A. S. (1998). Seeing things through science eyes: A single case study of an exemplary elementary science teacher. Dissertation Abstracts International. AAT 9903113. Foster, A. S. (1995, February). Murder in the science lab? Science Scope, 18(2). 12-15. Glenzer, M. (2012, July 29). Creative juices flowing,



The Official Publication of The Science Teachers Association of Texas

Cultivating Creativity in 21st Century Science Classrooms: The Fourth “C” (continued) growing. cle, p. 1.

Houston Chroni-

Jones, R. A. (2012, March). What were they thinking? Instructional strategies that encourage critical thinking. The Science Teacher, 70(3), 66-70. Larmer, J. & Mergendoller, J. (2012). The main course, not dessert: How are students reaching 21st century goals with 21st century project-based learning? Project-based Learning 101. Buck Institute for Education. Prince, F.A. (1993). C and the box: A paradigm parable. San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass/Pfeiffer, Inc. Richardson, L. S. (2011, March 25). The creativity crisis: Why American schools need design. The Atlantic. Retrieved July, 25, 2012, from http:// the-creativity-crisis-whyamerican-schools-need-design/73038. Robinson, K. [Sir Ken Robinson]. (2007,January 6). Do schools kill creativity? []. Retrieved from watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY

AUTHORS NOTES Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking are considered the ‘Gold Standard’ in creativity assessments (CQ) that indicates that people who are more creative as children grow up to be more successful than those who are less creative. The Torrrance tests were developed by E. Paul Torrance in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Susan Striker’s Anti-Coloring books for the Young at Art can be found at the following website Droodles was a syndicated cartoon feature created by Roger Price and collected in his 1953 book Droodles. The trademarked name “Droodle” is a nonsense word suggesting “doodle”, “drawing” and “riddle.” Their general form is minimal: a square box containing a few abstract pictorial elements with a caption (or several) giving a humorous explanation of the picture’s subject. For example, a Droodle depicting three concentric shapes — little circle, medium circle, big square — might have the caption “Aerial view of a cowboy in a Porta-john.” Droodles are (or were) purely a form of entertainment like any other nonsense cartoon and appeared in pretty much the same places (newspapers, paper-

back collections, bathroom walls) during their heyday in the 1950s and 1960s. The commercial success of Price’s collections of Droodles led to the founding of the publishing house Price-SternSloan, and also to the creation of a Droodles-themed game show. Seeing things through science eyes: A case study of an exemplary elementary teacher by Foster, Andrea Susan, Ph.D., Texas A&M University, 1998, 229 pages; AAT 9903113 Science-eyed elementary teachers exhibit relentless passions for replacing traditional teaching with realistic, integrated, responsible instruction with science at its core. The purpose of this study was to explore an exemplary elementary teacher’s thinking about science and how it serves as a vehicle for the learning that occurs in her primary classroom. Two research questions were investigated in this study. First, what does it mean for an exemplary elementary teacher to view all learning with science eyes? Second, in what ways does the science-oriented elementary teacher use her knowledge of science content, pedagogy, and practical experience to structure her students’ learning and her classroom teaching?

Texas Association for Environmental Education 2016 Annual Conference October 7-9, 2016 Northwood University, Cedar Hill, TX Environmental Literacy: Success Through Partnerships TAEE invites all educators and interested people to attend the environmental education conference, An invitation to attend and a request for presenters October 7 – 9th, at the beautiful and natural Northwood University campus in Cedar Hill, Texas in southwest Dallas County.marks the 35th TAEE conference and celebrates the 36 years since TAEE’s Our 2016 conference establishment. The conference will take place October 7 – 9th, at the beautiful and natural Northwood campus CedarNatural Hill, Texas, in southwest Dallas County. The focus will beUniversity on a tenet of theinTexas Resource Environmental Literacy Plan (ELP) - Life-

long Learning and Community Connections. A copy of the ELP is available at

The focus will be on a tenet of the Texas Natural Resource Environmental Literacy Plan (ELP) Lifelong Learning and Community Connections. A copy of the ELP is available at

The 2016 conference theme is

The 2016 conference is Environmental Literacy: Success theme Through Partnerships.

Environmental Literacy: Success Through Partnerships.

Classroom teachers and educators at nature based centers will share strategies for working toward We are looking for enthusiastic presenters who a goal of environmental literacy in Texas while earning professional development credits.

 Use successful techniques and activities in the classroom.  Created lifelong learners within your community. Cal Martin Canada keynote Mr. organization Martin is theorNational  from Used Ottawa, partnerships that will wereinspire vital towith yourhis success as anaddress. educational Chair of Interpretation Canada and is a private Interpretation Consultant with Frog in the Pocket. nature center His writings encourage educators to engage emotions alongand with information. Join TAEE as we welWe would love to learn about the many ways you educate collaborate to achieve comeenvironmental and learn from Cal Martin. literacy for all. The Call for Presentations may be found at invites to attend conference network,totolearn learnand and to to be be inspired. TAEETAEE invites you you to attend thethe conference toto network, inspired. The The Northwood Northwood University campus with trails through wooded areas, a creek and pond, and on-site University campus with trails through wooded areas, a creek and pond, and on-site lodging will give lodging will give everyone a beautiful location to meet other education professionals and everyone a beautiful location to meet other education professionals and interested citizens who interested citizens who value environmental education. Plan to register for the conference value environmental education. through

Register ataffiliate for three dayAffiliate conference and Saturday only $85.for As an of STAT and the Texas of the$140 North American Association

Environmental Education,, TAEE is a professional organization that supports promotes a community of environmental educators in the stateAssociation of Texas by providing As anand affiliate of STAT and the Texas Affiliate of the North American for Environmental

Education,, TAEE is a professional organization that supports and promotes a comContent Connections Certification Communication munity of environmental educators in the state of Texas by providing Contact TAEE at and like us on Face Book.





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Volume 60 Issue 2

SBOE Members


District 1 El Paso Martha M. Dominguez

District 9 Mount Pleasant Vice Chair Thomas Ratliff

District 2 Brownsville Ruben Cortez, Jr.

District 10 Florence Tom Maynard

District 3 San Antonio Marisa B. Perez

District 11 Fort Worth Patricia Hardy

District 4 Houston Lawrence A. Allen, Jr

District 12 Dallas Geraldine Miller

District 5 San Antonio Ken Mercer

District 13 Fort Worth Erika Beltran

District 6 Houston Chair Donna Bahorich

District 14 Waco Sue Melton-Malone

District 7 Beaumont David Bradley

District 15 Amarillo Marty Rowley

District 8 The Woodlands Barbara Cargill



The Official Publication of The Science Teachers Association of Texas



Past President

(972) 907-2838

(713) 723-0273

George Hademenos

Matthew Wells


Vice President

(469) 633-6805

(469) 633-6805



(806) 766-1744

(281) 328-9237

Laura Lee McLeod

Kara Swindell

Terry White

Melissa Gable

Members At Large:

Ann Mulvihill

Kayla Pearce

Linda Schaake

Volume 60 Issue 2


Affiliates TABT Texas Association of Biology Teachers Daniel Bryant TAEE Texas Association for Environmental Education Lisa Brown TCES Texas Council of Elementary Science Wilma Stewart TESTA Texas Earth Science Teachers Association Kathryn Barclay TMEA Texas Marine Educators Association Terrie Looney

Contacts TEA Representative:

Irene Pickhardt Curriculum Division (512) 463-9581

Executive Director:

TSAAPT Texas Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers Karen Jo Matsler

Chuck Hempstead (512) 491-6685

ACT2 Associated Chemistry Teachers of Texas Karen Compton

Janet Morrow (512) 491-6685

ISEA Informal Science Education Association Lynn Christopher

(512) 491-6685

Assistant Executive Director:

STATellite Submissions:

TSELA Texas Science Education Leadership Association Cynthia Ontiveros


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