Page 1

6

Meet Your New STAT Executive Committee

The

20

The Science of Fake News

22

Informal Science Meets Environmental Education

STATellite 2018 Spring Issue Volume 61 Issue 2

THE ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME: STAT Past President George Hademenos Experiences Antarctica with PolarTREC Page 12

The Official Publication of the Science Teachers Association of Texas


FROM THE CREATORS OF STEMSCOPES TEXAS COMES:

DIVE-in Engineering

Built in partnership with the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI), STEMscopes DIVE-in Engineering transforms your classroom into an

in partnership with New York Hall of Science

authentic makerspace. Learn more at DIVEinengineering.com

STEMSCOPES

rangers

SCIENCE NIGHT

in partnership with EarthEcho International

Navigated by Philippe Cousteau, STEMrangers is a guided science night program that empowers students to find solutions for real-world STEM challenges. Learn more at STEMrangers.com

Ready to change your world and theirs?

getstemcertified.com The National Institute for STEM Education (NISE) certifies teachers, campuses, and districts in STEM teaching. Using a competency-based, academic coach-led online learning platform, educators produce a portfolio of work that demonstrates proficiency across 15 STEM teacher actions.


Volume 61 Issue 2

The

STATellite

STATellite 2018 Spring Issue • Volume 61

CONTENTS UP FRONT

4 President’s Message 5 Calendar 6 2018–2019 STAT

Executive Committee

FEATURES

12

20

The Adventure of a Lifetime

7 8 23

STAT Past President George Hademenos experienced a professional development opportunity like no other: an Antarctic adventure with PolarTREC.

The Science of Fake News A socio-scientific issues (SSI) unit can help your students communicate like scientists and develop their reasoning and critical thinking skills.

CAST 2018 Call for Proposals Affiliate News Learn about TABT membership and attend TAEE’s and ACT2’s upcoming conferences.

Informal Science Meets Environmental Education Informal learning opportunities in home settings provide an ideal forum for connecting students to current environmental issues.

COMMUNITY

27

2017–2018 STAT Leadership & Staff

www.statweb.org

Issue 2

3


4

The Official Publication of the Science Teachers Association of Texas

President’s Column

S

Laura Lee McLeod, STAT President

UMMER is almost here: Vacation plans are sketched out, the kids’ activities are scheduled, and relaxation is right around the corner. You might have asked friends what good books they’ve read lately, and you might have even borrowed a few for some poolside reading. My to-go picks always include a killer suspense novel or some enjoyable historical fiction! But how about adding a few books to your list that will impact your classroom instruction and students? My top pick for this summer reading list is Visible Learning for Science: What Works Best to Optimize Student Learning K–12 by J. Almarode, et al (2018). Based on John Hattie’s research that “yielded many insights into how we plan, develop and implement science instruction,” Visible Learning for Science explores how science teachers can balance surface, deep, and transfer learning using Hattie’s Barometer of Influence. I have already started reading Visible Learning and love that it has confirmed some things I do, but also love that it has caused me to pause other practices. This definitely is a page-turner and will shed light on small classroom changes that could have big impact on student achievement. My second pick for this summer is 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Task-Based Discussions in Science by J.L. Cartier, et al (2013). The premise is based on the five practices of 1) anticipating how students will attack or complete a task; 2) monitoring what students are actually doing during a task; 3) selecting particular students to share during whole class discussion; 4) sequencing the work to be displayed in selected order; and 5) connecting student responses to specific science content. The first chapter dives right into creating tasks that place a high cognitive demand on students, offer multiple choices of solution, and require students to produce an artifact while engaged in the task. My last pick, STEM Lesson Essentials: Integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics by J. Vasquez, et al (2013), is not a new read for me, but a returning read. This book offers an incredibly easy description of what STEM really is and how to implement STEM practices into your classroom. Not only does it give lesson examples, but also it ties STEM to project-based learning, identifies differpublications@statweb.org

ent means of cross-curricular instruction within STEM, and explains how to assess student learning in a STEM-based project. If you have not read this one, it should be on your list of must-reads. Whether you choose one of my recommendations or not, be sure to include some professional reading on your summer list. All those education buzzwords we hear these days— such as future-ready, 21st-century learner, growth mindset, etc.—are great ideas we all need to learn about. What do they really mean? What do they really look like in a classroom? How can my practices evolve to benefit my students? Enjoy your summer. Grow. Relax. Learn. And get ready for your new year. I know STAT can’t wait for August to come! LAURA LEE MCLEOD 2017–18 STAT President board@statweb.org


Volume 61 Issue 2

STATellite

Upcoming Events JUNE

1 15

2018-2019 STAT Executive Committee takes office CAST 2018 Call for Proposals deadline

http://bit.ly/cast2018proposal

JULY

8–10

16–19

STAT Board Summer Leadership Retreat, San Antonio ACT2 Biennial Conference, Abilene

NOVEMBER

1–3

CAST 2018, Fort Worth

SUBMIT AN ARTICLE TO STAT STAT invites members to submit articles about their science education successes. All submissions should be original content and include at least one image. The STAT Editorial Board reviews each submission for possible publication. For more information or to submit your article, contact publications@statweb.org.

https://sites.google.com/site/ act2biennial/

SEPTEMBER

10

STAT Executive Committee Meeting, Austin

OCTOBER

5–7

Texas Association for Environmental Education (TAEE) 2018 Conference, Palestine

www.taee.org/conference

20

Mini-CAST El Paso

http://minicastelpaso.org

30

STAT Executive Committee Meeting, Fort Worth

Mark your calendar for CAST 2018 this Nov. 1–3 in Fort Worth. It’s the best place to connect with colleagues and collect ideas you can start using in your classroom the following Monday.

www.statweb.org

5


6

The Official Publication of the Science Teachers Association of Texas

Congratulations to the 2018–2019 STAT Executive Committee The nine-member Science Teachers Association of Texas Executive Committee is STAT’s governing body and provides strategic, programmatic, and financial direction and oversight for the association. In 2018, five positions on the Executive Committee—President-Elect, Vice President, Secretary and two Member-at-Large positions—were up for election. The STAT Nominating Committee presented to members a slate of three officers and an election among six Member-at-Large candidates. Following a two-week voting period, the election concluded April 19, and results were announced April 20. Terms begin June 1.

PRESIDENT Terry White

PRESIDENT-ELECT Linda Schaake

PAST PRESIDENT Laura Lee McLeod

District Elementary Science Lead Spring Branch ISD

Retired Classroom Teacher Brady ISD

Elementary Science Coordinator Frisco ISD

VICE PRESIDENT Melissa Gable

SECRETARY Jennifer Meyer

TREASURER Kara Swindell

High School Chemistry Teacher Crosby ISD

Senior Elementary Science Coordinator Leander ISD

Eighth-Grade Science Teacher Lubbock ISD

MEMBER-AT-LARGE Gianna Colson

MEMBER-AT-LARGE Matthew Cushing

MEMBER-AT-LARGE Jeanette Escobar

Fifth-and Sixth-Grade Science Teacher La Feria ISD

publications@statweb.org

Director of Programs and Operations Rice University Office of STEM Engagement

Fifth-Grade Science Instruction/ Campus Lead El Paso ISD


CAST 2018 Call for Proposals The Science Teachers Association of Texas (STAT) is excited to announce that the CAST 2018 Call for Proposals is open through June 15, 2018. Each year, more than 6,000 educators and science advocates gather for the Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching, aka CAST, one of the nation’s premier science education conferences. What makes this three-day festival of all things science possible is you. Our program includes hundreds of breakout sessions presented by educators who generously share strategies for introducing students to the phenomenal world of science. We seek proposals for sessions geared toward all grade levels and subject areas. A team of STAT members—science educators like you—will score all proposals and make recommendations for which sessions to include on the CAST agenda. Learn more and submit your proposal at http://bit.ly/cast2018proposal. Submissions will be accepted until June 15.


8

The Official Publication of the Science Teachers Association of Texas

TABT Update

T

By Alton Biggs

ABT is the only professional organization in Texas whose purposes include facilitating the dissemination of biological knowledge, encouraging scientific thinking and the utilization of the methods of science through the teaching of biology, and making available to the biology teachers of the State of Texas information concerning the selection, organization, and presentation of biological materials. We cooperate with other organizations such as STAT and the National Association of Biology Teachers to work for the improvement of the professional qualifications of those teaching the biological sciences. Founded at STAT in 1985, TABT continues to grow stronger with each passing year. Members of TABT receive two weekly emails and occasional alerts when news items demand immediate dissemination. Our TABT Update and URL of the Week delivers summaries of research articles from Nature and Science, a useful website, and information about job openings and professional staff development or other opportunities. The second

publications@statweb.org

email delivers access to a full open source research article that can be used in the biology classroom. We know of no other organization that keeps its members so informed. Every year TABT offers its members and friends the opportunity to learn during the summer by engaging with the natural world. Last year members went to Big Bend National Park during spring break and to Belize during the summer. This year a trip is offered to Alaska’s Copper River Delta

(and there are still spaces available). Next July, members of TABT will join Alton Biggs and Robert Dennison on a trip to the famed Galapagos Islands. TABT even has its own website, which you’re invited to visit, at http://tabt.us. You’ll find a link to join (for only a $10 check or $11 if paying using PayPal), as well as other information. There is an area that is solely for members, so join us to get all of this information for biology and life sciences teachers K–University levels.

TABT members enjoy lunch in Boquillas, Mexico, while on a trip to Big Bend National Park during Spring Break 2017.


Volume 61 Issue 2

STATellite

2018 Texas Association for Environmental Education Conference Join TAEE to celebrate Environmental Education in Texas! OCTOBER 5-7, 2018 | LAKEVIEW METHODIST CONFERENCE CENTER | PALESTINE, TEXAS Call for presentations: http://bit.ly/TAEE_2018 TAEE is excited about its 2018 conference theme: Communicating and Connecting Our Diverse Natures. Environmen-

tal education is itself all about connecting and communicating – whether between research, disciplines, or viewpoints. Join us to add your voice to our diversity! Registra-

tion will be online at TAEE.org/ conference/ shortly. Join us, or—better yet—share the ways you connect your students with nature. Submit a proposal to present now!

GET SOCIAL WITH STAT STAT’s social media provides a year-round source of science education inspiration. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for cool science news and classroom ideas, and check out our Instagram and Snapchat for behind-the-scenes glimpses at our annual Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching, better known as CAST. www.facebook.com/ TxScienceSTAT

@TxScienceSTAT

@TxScienceSTAT

@TxScienceSTAT

www.statweb.org

9


ACT2 Biennial Conference When: Monday, 16 July – Thursday, 19 July, 2018 Where: McMurry University, Abilene, TX Cost: $300 (early pricing until 1 June; after 1 June, $325) includes registration, all meals from Monday night through breakfast Thursday, lodging in a dorm room from Monday night until Thursday, conference t-shirt and other goodies (or $225 for registration and all meals - no lodging; after 1 June, $250) ** Presenters save $25 off the above prices!!!

Why should I go:

1. Get Professional Development hours! (some sessions may count towards GT credit)

2. The lowest cost chemistry conference you will find anywhere! 3. Many workshops covering all levels of Chemistry from your lowest academic students to your brightest AP students! 4. It will be 3+ days of Chemistry Fun! 5. Get tons of ideas to implement in your classroom! 6. Door Prizes! 7. Come see old friends and meet lots of new friends that you can network with!

Activities at Biennial include: Workshop sessions Lab sessions Demo show

Banquet Silent auction Make-n-takes

Games Movie / videos

For more information and to register: https://sites.google.com/site/act2biennial


More Than 17,000 Students Prepared for Their 2017 AP* Exams with “FlinnPREP™ helped me practice specific topics I was struggling with, while also providing practice tests for a complete review for the AP* Exam.” Class of 2017 AP* Chemistry student - Exton, PA

Prepare, Master and Practice with FlinnPREP™ Online Interactive Courses AP* Chemistry • AP* Biology • AP* Physics 1 • AP* Environmental Science

www.flinnprep.com SCIENTIFIC © 2017 Flinn Scientific Inc. All Rights Reserved.

800-452-1261

*AP and Advanced Placement are registered trademarks of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, these products.


12

The Official Publication of the Science Teachers Association of Texas

A Professional Development Opportunity Like No Other

By George Hademenos, STAT Immediate Past President and Richardson ISD physics teacher

I

N addition to the typical daily, weekly and monthly responsibilities of a teacher—including attendance, classroom management, lesson planning, grading, progress reports and depar tment/faculty meetings—a mandatory expectation of all teachers, regardless of the grade or subject taught, is professional development (PD). Each school district requires its teachers to engage and participate in instructional training outside of the classroom to provide them with novel and creative approaches toward presenting content to their students. Although the exact number of PD hours can vary between school districts, teachers are generally required to have 150 clock hours over a five-year interval.

interaction and engagement in activities. Specialized opportunities do exist for unique PD experiences at no or minimal cost, but these require effort on behalf of the teacher to identify these opportunities and to proactively develop and submit an application packet. In fact, I have written about two such opportunities—the Henry Ford Teacher Innovation Awards and the International Ocean Drilling Program School of Rock—in prior issues of the STATellite. Both of these opportunities provided me with a host of authentic and unique instructional experiences that I continue to explore with my students. It is in this vein that I would like to describe another PD opportunity that I recently participated in that is truly like no other: PolarTREC.

Most PD offered by school districts involve three to six hours in a classroom-style setting presented in a lecture-type format, driven primarily by group

PolarTREC, an acronym meaning Polar Teachers and Researchers Exploring and Collaborating, is an educational research experience in

publications@statweb.org

which K–12 teachers participate in polar research, working closely with scientists as a pathway to improving science education. PolarTREC is managed by the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. (ARCUS) and funded by the National Science Foundation and additional partnerships. Through PolarTREC, selected teachers are provided the rare opportunity to spend two to six weeks working with a research team in the Arctic or Antarctica. Following an application process that involved a detailed application and an interview with prospective polar research teams, I was invited to travel to Antarctica to work with the research team of Carol Costanza and Dr. Matthew Lazzara (Figure 1) of the University of Wisconsin at Madison on the Automatic Weather Station (AWS) project—an initiative designed to collect weather measurements on a frequent and continual


Volume 61 Issue 2

STATellite

the Antarctic Meteorological Research Center in Wisconsin. AWS units are mounted at various location about Antarctica, as shown in Figure 4 (page 14). When taken over an extended period of time, the weather data collected from the AWS units will allow the scientists to visualize patterns in the weather, leading to an understanding of the Antarctic weather and climate and its long-term global impact.

Figure 1. basis across the continent. An AWS (shown in Figure 2) is equipped with sensor systems designed to measure the following meteorological variables: temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind speed and direction, relative humidity, and temperature difference between the top of the AWS to about a half meter from the surface. Weather data from the sensors within an AWS is received by an Argos-certified transceiver which is housed on NOAA’s synchronous, polar-orbiting satellites, as shown in Figure 3 (page 14). The data is then transmitted from the satellite to satellite ingestors at McMurdo Station (in Antarctica) and NOA A (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration) in Virginia and Alaska, and then the data is relayed to

Figure 2.

www.statweb.org

13


14

The Official Publication of the Science Teachers Association of Texas

Figure 3.

Figure 4. publications@statweb.org


Volume 61 Issue 2

STATellite

THE JOURNEY TO ANTARCTICA Although I was given an itinerary that began at my residence and ended in Antarctica, the trip itself was anything but a straight line. There are no direct flights between any point in the United States and Antarctica. So, how did I get to Antarctica? The trip was structured into two separate phases. The first phase consisted of four flights originating in Dallas/Fort Worth and ending in Christchurch, New Zealand, while the second phase consisted of a single flight from Christchurch, New Zealand, to McMurdo Station, Antarctica. The first leg of the

Figure 6.

Figure 5. trip began Oct. 28, 2017, with a flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to Denver, Colorado, followed by a flight from Denver to Los Angeles. The third leg of the trip began later that night on Oct. 28 with a flight from Los Angeles to Auckland, New Zealand, with the fourth and final leg of the first phase of the trip being a flight from Auckland to Christchurch, New Zealand. I remained in Christchurch, New Zealand, for two nights. Upon arrival in Christchurch, I arrived at the U.S. Antarctic Program Passenger Terminal (Figure 5) to undergo additional orientation briefings, evaluation of laptops for connection to the Internet at McMurdo, a quick medical evaluation that involved a temperature reading as well as a current flu shot (which I had already received) and then, lastly (but most importantly), a visit to

www.statweb.org

15


16

The Official Publication of the Science Teachers Association of Texas

Figure 7. the CDC (Clothing Distribution Center) for retrieval of my ECW (Extreme Cold Weather) gear (Figure 6, page 15), which everyone was given an opportunity to try on prior to formal checkout. All of these procedures and processes spanned the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 31. Participants were then given the rest of the day for free time and a chance to enjoy the sites of Christchurch, prior to our scheduled “Ice Day,� or our flight to McMurdo Station the following morning. The only leg in the second phase of the trip occurred Wednesday, Nov. 1, with a flight on a C-17 military cargo plane from Christchurch, New Zealand, to McMurdo Station, Antarctica (Figure publications@statweb.org

Figure 8. 7). All flights combined, the trip from Dallas/Fort Worth to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, covered 10,948 miles over 23 hours and 17 minutes.

Upon reflection, the trip was indeed a rather long one filled with hours upon hours waiting in airport terminals with limited access to WiFi. However, upon


Volume 61 Issue 2

STATellite

Figure 9. landing, it was beyond satisfying to realize, “Yep, we’re here,” and then step outside and witness such an awe-inspiring sight as the backdrop from McMurdo Station, Antarctica (Figure 8). AUTOMATIC WEATHER STATIONS IN THE FIELD The primary objective of my time in Antarctica was the opportunity to travel to functional/operational AWS units and conduct routine maintenance evaluations. On Tuesday, we were booked on back-to-

back helicopter flights that would eventually take us to five AWS sites, which is shown as a GPS track uploaded to Google Earth in Figure 9. On our first leg of the trip, the helicopter pilot took us to Marble Point and Marble Point II (both within five minutes of walking distance) and Cape Bird, before flying back to McMurdo Station to refuel. Once refueled, we flew to Minna Bluff and then on to the AWS on White Island before we returned back to base, this time for good.

inspect them to make sure everything was operating properly. However, we recently noticed that weather data had stopped transmitting from Minna Bluff AWS, so we were particularly anxious to investigate that particular AWS. When we arrived at Minna Bluff, the problem became obvious and would require a follow-up visit to perform repairs (Figure 10, page 18).

The purpose for the visits to each of the AWS units was to

In addition to the work with

EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH AWS units in the field, I was

www.statweb.org

17


18

The Official Publication of the Science Teachers Association of Texas

Figure 10. also responsible for educational outreach. To help prepare my students and to inform the general public for the upcoming expedition, I created two infographics that provided a detailed summary of the Antarctica expedition (Figures 11, 12). I placed them on a Google Drive and created a link that I then included in my email signature through my school account. Three other outreach efforts publications@statweb.org

included: prearranged Skype sessions with various classrooms, a PolarConnect event/ webinar presentation of the scientific initiatives involved in the expedition, and an online blog that I updated on a consistent basis throughout my time in Antarctica. The PolarConnect presentation as well as the journal entries are archived and can be accessed at www.polartrec.

com/expeditions/antarcticautomatic-weather-stations. This professional development opportunity was truly a transformative one that will continue to impact my teaching and instructional activities for years to come. For those science teachers who would like more information about the program and the application process, please consult www. polartrec.com.


Volume 61 Issue 2

Figure 12. Figure 11.

www.statweb.org

STATellite

19


20

The Official Publication of the Science Teachers Association of Texas

The Science of Fake News The Use of Socio-scientific Issues in the Modern Science Classroom By Uchenna Emenaha, University of Houston Ph.D. student, Curriculum Instruction/Science Education

T

HE term “fake news” has become popular since our most recent presidential election. What constitutes real news vs. fake news often seems to be a matter of opinion; however, this can be problematic when publications@statweb.org

the “fake” news stories we are discussing are issues such as climate change and global warming. The ability to process and package ideas meaningfully and communicate them to others is a crucial step in deepening science understanding.

The emerging research model of socio-scientific issues (SSI) has been found to be a great resource in teaching students how to think critically about important social science issues. Numerous articles have been published in the Journal of


Volume 61 Issue 2 Research and Science Teaching supporting the notion that SSI is a powerful tool that can help develop students’ reasoning and critical thinking skills. The SSI research model teaches students to communicate like scientists through classroom discussions on controversial social issues that have scientific implications. For example, a socio-scientific issues unit could allow students to respond to pressing issues such as global warming or the use of GMOs in food. When selecting SSI topics, teachers should opt for topics that are highly relevant to students’ lives and the local community. The more relevant the topic is to students’ personal lives, the more engaged they will be during an SSI lesson. The use of SSI in the classroom is not intended to sway or change students’ minds; instead, the goal is to teach students how to think critically and then apply evidence and scientific reasoning to form claims on important social topics.

tives on the major issue, they will then share their claims using a process called dialogic inquiry, or small group discussions. This learning model is highly student-centered, which means students are in the driver’s seat, with the teacher serving as a crossing guard to keep the flow of debate centered on facts and text evidence. The teacher simply acts as a facilitator, helping move each student from one position to the next as they take turns and listen to alternate perspective from their fellow classmates. The hallmark of SSI is discussing social issues that are viewed as controversial or highly debatable topics—the kind of topics you probably shouldn’t bring up on a first date: religion, politics and, more recently, global warming. The range of SSI topics is vast and will look different in various subjects.

STATellite

For example, in biology class, students can discuss their take on parents who might want to change their future child’s DNA in hopes of having the “perfect child.” Or, perhaps in health, they could explore whether food subsidies or government regulation of food prices contribute to lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables in both urban and rural areas. It is important to realize that controversial issues tend not to have a clear right or wrong answer, which is yet another challenge for students in a typical SSI lesson. They will have to adapt to the notion that multiple perspectives can be accepted as long as each claim can be supported with evidence. This will be a paradigm shift for students as they learn to accept the idea that multiple correct ways exist to address social dilemmas.

SSI lessons should be designed so that students work in collaborative groups to investigate the perspectives of all major stakeholders (i.e., local companies, government and school officials, community members, etc.). Government, company and organization websites are good resources to gather information. Students should also use science content knowledge as a basis to support or refute evidence gathered during their research. Once students have investigated multiple perspec-

www.statweb.org

21


22

The Official Publication of the Science Teachers Association of Texas

Today’s youth are often referred to as digital natives, meaning they have always known a world of smartphones, the Internet and social media. So, it is likely that when seeking answers to social issues they will rely heavily on various social media outlets as a source of knowledge. In SSI interventions, students use authentic sources of data such as websites, social media and digital articles as the media to which they develop their argumenta-

the appropriate skills needed to determine what’s real and what’s not. Students often view science and their environment as two separate areas and do not make connections between the two. This is a yet another important reason to study science with the SSI intervention model: It forces students to make connections between class discussions and real-world events. Educators should emphasize to students that science is not something

etal concerns that still remain highly debatable and unanswered. Science education must be deliberate in teaching and developing students’ ability to critically think through these important social dilemmas; by doing so, students will be able to separate facts from fake news and be better prepared to navigate through the science world of the 21st century. Resources for Socio Scientific Lessons in the Classroom: https://serc. carleton.edu/sp/library/issues/index. html

REFERENCES Klaczynski, P. A., & Gordon, D. H. (1996). Self-serving influences on adolescent’s evaluations on beliefs-relevant evidence. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 62 (3), 317–339. Lewis, S. (2003, September). Issuebased teaching in science. Education. Action Bioscience. Retrieved from http://www.actionbioscience. org/education/lewis.html

tion skills, as well as respond to the overarching socio-scientific question. By doing so, they are not only increasing their media literacy skills but also learning how to spot fake news and nonscientific claims. There is a growing need to develop high school students’ reasoning and argumentation skills to provide the next generation of leaders with publications@statweb.org

that exists only in their textbooks—rather, it is a tool to answer life’s big questions. Scientific advancements, such technologies to make foods last longer (GMOs) and the use of fossil fuels to power vehicles, have afforded us huge improvements in our quality of life. These advancements have also brought with them a slew of ethical issues and soci-

Sadler, T. D., & Zeidler, D. L. (2005). Patterns of informal reasoning in the context of socio- scientific decisions making. Journal of Research and Teaching in Science Teaching, 42 112–138. Sadler, T. (2004). Informal reasoning regarding socio-scientific issues: A critical review of the literature. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41(5), 513-536). http:// dx.doi.org/10.1002/tea.2009 Toulmin, S., (1958). The use of argument. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press Wells, G. (1999). Dialogic inquiry: towards a sociocultural practice and theory of education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Volume 61 Issue 2

STATellite

Connecting Informal Science Education to Environmental Education By Puneet S. Gill, Assistant Professor, Texas A&M International University, Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy

I

T has never been more important to teach students how to be stewards of our environment and local plant and animal species. As Edward O. Wilson (2002) pointed out: “The race is now on between the technoscientific forces that are destroying the living environment and those that can be harnessed to save it. We are inside a bottleneck of overpopulation and wasteful consumption” (p. xxiii). In order to connect students to current environmental issues, informal learning opportunities in home settings can link information and documentation of local threatened and endangered animal and plant species to online forums for the cataloging and sharing of data. This project described in this article was conducted in an after-school setting where students were asked to take pictures of local plants and animals to create catalog books.

Students were asked to find and catalog the plants and animals through inaturalist.org and the Texas Nature Trackers App. Students also worked in the school setting and were encouraged to watch a Years of Living Dangerously episode

to make connections between home and the after-school setting. Participating students ranged in age from eight to 12 years. The after-school setting facilitated a program of one to two hours where students had access to a computer lab,

www.statweb.org

23


24

The Official Publication of the Science Teachers Association of Texas

teachers who aided in their progress, and the materials necessary to create a catalog book. A CLOSER LOOK AT THE PROJECT The strategy for this afterschool project was threefold. First, students were introduced to climate change and its impact on the environment through “The Sixth Extinction,� a Season 2 episode of the documentary series Years of Living Dangerously (Season 2 Episode 6, 2017). Next, they were asked to catalog plant and animal species in their home and school yards. Lastly, they were asked to make connections to endangered and extinct species using the Texas Parks and Wildlife Nature Tracker App and inaturalist.org. In the episode, Aasif Mandvi travels to Africa and discusses how climate change affects

publications@statweb.org

endangered species. This episode details how droughts, variable rainfall, and poaching are linked to the decline of endangered species (Years of Living Dangerously, 2017). The issue of competition over space and resources between humans and wildlife is discussed, along with its relationship to climate change. Students documented local animals and plants with the use of small field (catalog) notebooks, colored pencils, and clear tape. After taping a picture of the wildlife in the notebook, students then labeled and measured the parts of the specimen to the best of their ability. This helped students make connections to parts of plants and animals learned in class. Finally, a teacher aided them in using inaturalist.org to look up the species and determine if they had cataloged a threatened or endangered species.

In the future, students can track the species to determine if it is increasing or declining and make inferences about relationships to climate change. The project pages on the inaturalist.org site facilitate a community of people who track and record observations for cross-comparison. In order to make math connections, students documented the observations and created bar graphs and pie charts to communicate the data. They were also encouraged to find the number of species in one area and compare it to other areas of the United States. This site also aids students in viewing the population and prevalence of local plants and animals. Students added pictures of charts and data to their nature catalogs. The Texas Nature Trackers App is a hands-on tool that students can use to track and document animals and plants while contributing to conservation efforts. On the Nature Trackers website, teachers and students are able to look up target species that are rare, threatened, or endangered in Texas. The website breaks down species into birds, fish, mammals, and insects. Each of these includes a description of the species, its scientific name, and its federal/state status as threatened or endangered. For example, the Neojuvenille tiger beetle, Cicindela obsoleta neojuvenilis, is located in regions of sparse vegetation and hardpacked soil with peak activity in July. It is a threatened spe-


Volume 61 Issue 2

STATellite

cies in South Texas. Students can search the Southern Texas Plains Ecoregion and view target species in this or other areas. The Black Velvet Leatherleaf slug, for example, is another target species in South Texas. This particular species has a project page linked to inaturalist.org, where students and teachers can view recent sightings and see up to 138 different species of terrestrial snails and slugs. In the map view under “observations,” all 138 species are viewable according to their location. In the grid view, students can find the Black Velvet Leatherleaf and see the number of observations made. These project sites can help students identify locally accessible plants and animals and connect them to other community members who have made similar observations. TAKING THE PROJECT FURTHER For extensions of this project, students were encouraged to go back to the Years of Living Dangerously website, which features a “Writer’s Corner.” This lesson uses “Facts and Opinions” to help students discern evidence as it relates to environmental issues. Students are asked to make connections with the episode “The Sixth Extinction.” First, students researched local food webs to determine the plant’s or animal’s place in the local food web and its environmental sig-

nificance. Students were also asked to write about the ways the target species is connected to other species in the Texas environment and infer the ways drought could affect target species. Lastly, they were asked to refer to their catalog books and predict what might happen to the insects they had identified around their homes and/or schoolyards. This helped them to bridge the ideas stated in the episode of Years of Living Dangerously, the threatened and endangered species on inaturalist. org, and their own home and school environments. As many as half of all plant and animal species may be gone by the end of this century (Wilson, 2002). Wilson also urged that a global land ethic is needed— one based on “understanding ourselves and the world around us that technology and science can provide” (p.xxiii). We must encourage environmental stewardship in our students,

and students who participate in collaborations between home and school settings may ultimately become active citizens who participate in such efforts. REFERENCES California Academy of Sciences. (2017). Terrestrial mollusks of Texas. Retrieved from: http:// w w w.inatur alis t.org/projec t s/ terrestrial-mollusks-of-texas Season 2 Episode 6. (2017). Climate Facts. Retrieved from: http:// channel.nationalgeographic.com/ years-of-living-dangerously/videogallery/?sort=recent&filter=episo des Texas Parks and Wildlife. (2017) Texas Nature Trackers Target Species. Retrieved from: http://tpwd. texas.gov/huntwild/wild/wildlife_ diversity/texas_nature_trackers/ target_species/ Years of Living Dangerously. Season 2 Episode 6. (2017). Climate Facts. Retrieved from: http:// yearsoflivingdangerously.com/ learn/climatefacts/ Wilson, E.O. (2002). The future of life. Vintage Books: New York, NY.

www.statweb.org

25


In that split second, it’s all worth it.

You live for those ah-ha moments when you know they just got it. Or when they make the mental leap and solve a real-world problem with something they learned. That’s what makes all the long hours, emotional investment and hard work worthwhile. And that’s what Carolina is here to help you do. Learn more about our commitment at www.carolina.com/withyou


Volume 61 Issue 2

STATellite

Science Teachers Association of Texas Leadership and Staff 2017–2018 STAT EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Reach members of the STAT Executive Committee at board@statweb.org. President

Laura Lee McLeod

Past President

President-Elect

Richardson ISD

Spring Branch ISD

George Hademenos

Frisco ISD

Terry White

Secretary

Vice President

Treasurer

Melissa Gable

Ann Mulvihill

Kara Swindell

Crosby ISD

Irving ISD

Lubbock ISD

Members-at-Large

Gianna Colson

Kayla Pearce

La Feria ISD

Linda Schaake

Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD

Retired

STAT STAFF Reach the STAT staff at stat@statweb.org. Executive Director

JJ Colburn, CAE Deputy Director

Finance Director

Paulina van Eeden Hill, CAE

Tiffany Schwartz, CNAP

Communications Manager

Business Development Director

Kate Johanns

Adam McKeivier, CAE

Membership Coordinator

Exhibits Manager

Linyer Zieman

Abby McCulloch

AFFILIATE REPRESENTATIVES Associated Chemistry Teachers of Texas

Texas Association for Environmental Education

Texas Marine Education Association

Informal Science Education Association

Texas Council of Elementary Science

Texas Science Education Leadership Association

Texas Association of Biology Teachers

Texas Earth Science Teachers Association

Texas Section, American Association of Physics Teachers

Robyn Shipley-Gerko Lynne Christopher Lee Ferguson

Kiki Corry

Denise Fisher

Kathryn Barclay

Julia Perry

Shane Woods

Paula Hiltibidal

512.505.8001 • 401 W. 15th St., Ste. 695 • Austin, TX 78701

www.statweb.org

27


Profile for The STATellite

The STATellite (May 2018)  

The STATellite is a digital magazine for members of the Science Teachers Association of Texas (STAT). Travel to Antarctica for a professiona...

The STATellite (May 2018)  

The STATellite is a digital magazine for members of the Science Teachers Association of Texas (STAT). Travel to Antarctica for a professiona...

Advertisement