For the past three years the Physics & Astronomy Department and Science Education Department have been collaborating on a Physics Teacher Education Coalition grant. Physics at the Beach, our PhysTEC program, was designed to increase the number of physics majors who would consider teaching physics, support area high school physics teachers, and increase the number of majors. On all fronts the program has been successful!
Two new courses were developed as part of the project. PHYS390, Exploring Physics Teaching, introduces physics majors to physics teaching and learning. Students spend time in high school physics classrooms, undergraduate physics labs and tutoring undergraduate physics students. PHYS490, Special Topics, is a one semester course for prospective and practicing physics teachers. Each semester focuses on a different topic in high school physics and helps students figure out how best to teach that content. There is a strong emphasis on sequencing instruction, identification and analysis of physics laboratories and demonstrations, and problem solving. Both classes were developed during the grant and both live on beyond the grant's funding. Both classes are co-taught by a high school physics teacher and a CSULB faculty member. Our resident HS Physics Teachers have been: Rod Ziolkowski (2010-11), Katie Beck (2011-12), Kevin Dwyer (2012-13), and Meredith Ashbran Casalino (2013-14).
Monthly Physics Demo Days bring together future teachers and current teachers as they share physics demonstrations. Topics rotate throughout the year to align with the content being taught in the high schools. These are held the second Thursday of the month, 4:30-5:30 and all are invited to attend. Details about the event and RSVP information are available online.
Each semester high school physics teachers and a few of their students are invited to attend the PhysTEC Physics Teacher Open House. The Saturday morning events include a physics talk, hands-on activity, lab tours and brunch. It's a nice opportunity for physics enthusiasts of all ages to come together and talk physics. The next event is Saturday, October 12.
On September 4, 2013 the California State Board of Education adopted the Next Generation Science Standards. This is the first step in many towards updating California's science standards for K-12. In an effort to keep our students, alums and area teachers informed, CSULB has hosted workshops about NGSS during the review and adoption process. Last spring, we hosted informational sessions and a pair of review sessions for teachers to come together to review and provide feedback on earlier drafts of NGSS.
Now that NGSS has been adopted, the next steps will include the writing of a California Science Framework, development and review of instructional materials, and new state science assessments. These will take some time, so it will be a while before NGSS is fully implemented in classrooms. That doesn't mean that teachers need to wait to start implementing NGSS. At this point, teachers are encouraged to incorporate the science and engineering practices and the cross-cutting concepts that are embedded in NGSS. Making this sort of change will help teachers (and students) transition from our current standards to the new standards.
On campus, we are integrating the new standards into our methods courses and helping our preservice teachers get up to speed on the NGSS. The California Department of Education and the California Science Teachers Association have websites with lots of resources to help educators make sense of NGSS, follow the timeline and stay abreast of changes.
These are exciting times for science education in California. Check out our "upcoming events" section of the website as we'll be hosting some NGSS related workshops during the 2013-2014 school year.
Preparing Elementary Teachers in a Model, Scalable, STEM-Rich Clinical Setting (aka: UTEACH/STEM) is a collaborative effort among the Colleges of Education and Natural Sciences and Mathematics at California State University, Long Beach and the Long Beach Unified School District. With the generous support of the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, this program provides professional development in science and mathematics, with technology and engineering providing context; training teachers to teach the STEM disciplines in an integrated and inquiry-focused way so that students understand science and mathematics in a real world context.
Last year, our first year of this program, UTEACH methods instructors and supervisors from CSULB to organize cross-curricular planning and co-teaching methods. We provided STEM professional development to 35 master teachers and 58 CSULB student teachers across six elementary schools in LBUSD (Cleveland, Carver, Whittier, Monroe, Willard, and Longfellow Elementary Schools). Working in co-teaching teams (each made up of one master teacher and two student teachers), participants have been incorporating STEM subject matter taught in professional development sessions into lesson plans across the curriculum. Each school was provided with lab materials and STEM education resources necessary to support these high quality and inquiry-based STEM lessons, and each school site held a Family Science Night during the month of March. Additionally, three Educational Leadership doctoral students (EDD) at CSULB were recruited to conduct the formative and summative evaluations of the project.
The UTEACH/STEM project has only just begun, and additional project components to further support CSULB student teachers and LBUSD master teachers in their STEM instruction are continuing.