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Sharing the Adventure with the Student: Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education: A Workshop Summary (2015)

Chapter: 5 Supporting Science and Engineering Teachers Through Professional Development

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Suggested Citation:"5 Supporting Science and Engineering Teachers Through Professional Development." National Research Council. 2015. Sharing the Adventure with the Student: Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21751.
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5


Supporting Science and Engineering Teachers Through Professional Development

Moderator Albert Byers, National Science Teachers Association
Speaker William Penuel, University of Colorado, Boulder
Panelists Annette DeCharon, University of Maine
Sheri Klug-Boonstra, Arizona State University
Mariel Milano, Orange County Public Schools, Florida

PREPARING TEACHERS TO SUPPORT THREE-DIMENSIONAL SCIENCE LEARNING

William Penuel, University of Colorado, Boulder

William Penuel, University of Colorado, Boulder, gave the address to begin Session 4. Penuel explained that if NASA wants its education materials to be used, then it will have to form partnerships with schools. He also called for developing a new set of professional learning standards and professional development research. Penuel also addressed how educators are trained and adapt to new changes in curriculum.

Defining “3D Learning”

Penuel began by talking about one of today’s challenges in professional development research—preparing teachers to support three-dimensional science and engineering learning as presented in A Framework for K-12 Science Education (“the Framework),1 a consensus report that informed the Next Generation Science Standards.

The Framework, Penuel continued, summarizes what we now know about how children learn and discusses three-dimensional science learning, which comes from a rich, multi-decade appreciation of what scientists actually do in their work and how we prepare young people for that. He went on to ask how we prepare teachers, especially when they may not have had such an experience.

Penuel said that in the past, student expectations for science focused on content and process separately. Motivated by a growing sense of the need for greater coherence in science education, he said, the Framework emphasizes that students need to develop an integrated understanding of science and engineering, both as a body

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1 See the “Introduction and Background” chapter for a discussion of A Framework for K-12 Science Education.

Suggested Citation:"5 Supporting Science and Engineering Teachers Through Professional Development." National Research Council. 2015. Sharing the Adventure with the Student: Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21751.
×

of knowledge and a set of practices for developing new knowledge. In addition, he noted that students are expected to apply crosscutting concepts that unify science and engineering—concepts such as structure and function, cause and effect—to deepen their understanding of those core ideas.

According to Penuel, coherence is manifest in the developmental perspective taken in the Framework. The Framework orients educators to help children “continually build on and revise their knowledge and abilities, starting from their curiosity about what they see around them and their initial conceptions about how the world works.” It is guided by the logic of a progressive view of learning, in which students’ knowledge and skill become more sophisticated over time, in ways that are directly supported by instructional materials and the actions of teachers.

Penuel stated that realizing the vision of the Framework depends on aligning the components of an educational system with that vision. It depends on making the system horizontally coherent, in the sense that the curriculum-, instruction-, and assessment-related policies and practices are all aligned with the standards, target the same goals for learning, and work together to support students’ development of the knowledge and understanding of science.

Professional development is also an important system component to align, he said, because the Framework makes significant learning demands on teachers.

Penuel said that it is known from the first generation of science standards implementation that professional development of an extended duration that is focused on content and that is close to practice is necessary to change classroom practice.

Teachers’ Struggles with Changes

Three of the changes for teachers are what Penuel considers to be particularly “big asks” of teachers, because they represent big departures from most teachers’ current practice.

He said, the first “big ask” is the demand to focus on a few disciplinary core ideas and help students make connections to crosscutting concepts. Students frequently encounter science today as small, disconnected facts; the assessments given to them that only require memorization of definitions of key terms or the recollection of facts reinforce this notion. So, to focus on just a handful of ideas, to know how to help students learn to use those ideas to explain and predict phenomena, and to find creative ways to ask students to make connections across vastly different areas of science, is a big shift to ask of teachers, Penuel said.

Penuel continued, a second “big ask” is to engage students in science and engineering practices. The eight practices represent the key “verbs” of science—how it is that scientists come to know and communicate what they know about the natural world. When students are engaged in these practices, they come to learn what it means to develop scientific knowledge and to think, speak, and act like scientists. But there is a big difference between having students pose questions to investigate and having students ask questions to clarify instructions for an assignment. And there is also a big difference between having students plan their own investigations—struggling with making a scientific protocol, following it, and discovering that it does not work—and having them use a protocol someone else developed for them. Finally, Penuel noted that there is a big difference between orally defending one’s findings before peers and scientists and writing up a lab report with a format they have been given to follow. He said that the practices demand that students wrestle with the mess, the mangle of science, and not have it cleaned up for them.

Penuel continued that a third “big ask” of teachers is to help all students build a stronger identification with science and engineering. According to the Framework, teachers of science and engineering need to make reference to the rich variety of human stories, to the puzzles of the past and how they were solved, and to the issues of today that science and engineering face, connecting them to their “human roots.” He said that a key principle of the Framework is that teaching must build on the interests and everyday experiences of young people in their families and communities, helping them see the connections between their everyday activities and the disciplinary ways of knowing the world. At present, we know that in many classrooms—particularly beginning in middle school—interest in science and engineering declines, and so we have much to do to realize this principle of the Framework.

During the past 3 years, Penuel and his colleagues have been leading professional development activities with teachers in a number of school districts large and small across the country. Some recurring things he has observed and heard from teachers is that integrating core ideas and practices is not easy. Many teachers see the eight practices, and they say that “this is the scientific method” or “this is just inquiry.”

Suggested Citation:"5 Supporting Science and Engineering Teachers Through Professional Development." National Research Council. 2015. Sharing the Adventure with the Student: Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21751.
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He said that many are also rightly skeptical about making shifts to instruction, when there are no available materials for them to use that embody three-dimensional science teaching and learning, and when state assessments for which they are accountable do not align yet to the Framework.

Penuel explained that a strategy of looking on the Internet for activities will not do either, because teachers are unlikely to find coherent sequences of instructional activity that build student understanding over time in the way outlined in the Framework. Curriculum materials provide important models for teachers to use to organize their own instruction. These struggles demand of teachers an engagement of the ideas in the Framework, and they demand of us—curriculum developers, professional development providers, and educational leaders—that we partner with them to develop the materials and assessments they need.

Penuel explained that it is possible to organize professional development opportunities to help accomplish this task.

Current Conditions

At present, Penuel said, few publishers or funders are willing or capable to make large investments in the kinds of coherent, year-long, and multi-year curriculum materials needed to embody the Framework. This means that the wide variety of materials that teachers need across K-12 education may not exist for some years to come.

He explained that science continues to compete for attention, too, with other subject areas, and this competition is not only for time in the classroom but also for teachers’ professional development time. Science teachers in districts are regularly called upon to help their colleagues in other disciplines to implement major initiatives rather than build knowledge and resources that advance their own work in science.

Penuel said that another challenge is that there are so many different professional development providers at the local, state, and national levels—including NASA. Each competes for teachers’ attention, and it will not be easy to ensure that providers all have a robust understanding of the Framework or access to resources that embody and make visible the vision, principles, and substance of the Framework.

Penuel said that he mentioned these challenges, not because he thinks they doom their efforts to failure, but rather because they are considerations when designing professional development. How might we prepare teachers, for example, for making teaching shifts in the Framework but develop materials with them at the same time, he asked. And what might be the role of standards in helping bring diverse providers into alignment with respect to professional development practices?

Strategy 1: Focus on the Framework

Penuel said that we know from research on the first generation of standards implementation that teachers are likely to interpret new standards in light of existing ones and their own ideas about the nature of scientific practice. He said that we also know that the sense teachers do make of standards is likely shaped by the ideas they share with their close colleagues. So teachers will need structured time for making sense of the Framework, as part of learning about it. Ideally, this reflection would take place within school-based teacher communities, where teachers’ interactions with colleagues are concentrated.

This is particularly important, Penuel noted, for helping teachers see what is the same and what is different about the Framework, and for focusing on the three-dimensional image of science learning presented in the Framework.

Focusing on tools and processes that teachers can use in their schools addresses the reality that there may be limited time for professional development in external workshops. External providers can design these tools, introduce them to teachers, and periodically bring back leaders of professional communities together to discuss their use of the tools, both to gain support from colleagues and acquire new ideas to try out in their schools.

One of the strategies Penuel and his colleagues have employed to support this work is to ask teachers in small groups to read parts of the Framework—either a single practice, crosscutting concept, or disciplinary idea, or the components of a performance expectation in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).2 They ask them to

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2 See the “Introduction and Background” chapter for a discussion of the Next Generation Science Standards.

Suggested Citation:"5 Supporting Science and Engineering Teachers Through Professional Development." National Research Council. 2015. Sharing the Adventure with the Student: Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21751.
×

work in small groups to develop “evidence statements” for what they would expect to see students see or do who had mastered that core idea or exhibited skill in the practice. They also ask teachers to think about different levels of performance they might see, which draws their attention to the learning progressions outlined in the Framework.

Of course the work of breaking down the practices, core ideas, and crosscutting concepts of the Framework into some component parts could be done for the teachers, but the intellectual heavy lifting they ask teachers to do helps them to wrestle with the specifics of the Framework and to do so publicly with others, so that different interpretations can emerge and be discussed as part of a learning community.

Penuel and his colleagues also sometimes ask teachers to read brief summaries or parts of articles on student learning related to parts of the Framework. Especially where there is research to support hypothetical learning progressions, this helps teachers anticipate how students might engage with the ideas in the Framework.

Another sense-making activity is to ask teachers to compare the usefulness of different tasks for eliciting student’s three-dimensional science proficiency as represented by a performance expectation of the NGSS. In this activity, they find or develop a range of tasks and ask teachers to rate the quality of evidence that each would generate about student learning. This particular activity helps teachers readily discern differences between tasks that elicit only facts from those that require students to also use science or engineering practices and make connections to crosscutting concepts.

Strategy 2: Co-Design Curriculum with Teachers

Penuel said that engaging teachers in the design and adaptation of curriculum materials is a form of “active learning” in which teachers can effectively explore the materials through practice, investigation, problem solving, and discussion.3 Developing materials provides a way for teachers to match instructional materials to student needs.4 Engaging teachers in design and adaptation of materials provides a way for them to learn about theories from research they can apply to practice.5 He said that teachers who begin with strong models of curriculum materials provide students with higher-quality opportunities to learn.6 Professional development that provides models for adapting materials and teaching effectively with them can produce greater student learning gains.7

In Denver, Penuel is working with a team of teachers to co-design a curriculum in biology for ninth grade. The team is comprised of local scientists from both the university and the parks and recreation department in the city, as well as experts in curriculum from the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study in Colorado Springs and learning scientists at the University of Colorado.

The team’s process looks little like traditional curriculum development by experts, or the typical efforts of districts to develop their own materials. It is a hybrid process that blends sense-making about the Framework with collaborative design as a leading activity of professional development. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation, through its Cyberlearning Program.

Penuel said that the team kicked off its design work, which is ongoing, with a 5-day workshop. The workshop included opportunities for teachers to learn about the Framework and the NGSS, including engaging in the activities. It also included opportunities for teachers to work both in a large group to develop unit structures and in small groups to dive deep and do design work together. At set times, the whole group convened to review the evolving unit for its overall coherence.

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3 E. Banilower, D. Heck, and I. Weiss, Can professional development make the vision of the standards a reality? The impact of the National Science Foundation’s Local Systemic Change Through Teacher Enhancement Initiative, Journal of Research in Science Teaching 44(3):375-395, 2007.

4 D. Huffman, K. Thomas, and F. Lawrenz, Relationship between professional development, teachers’ instructional practices, and the achievement of students in science and mathematics, School Science and Mathematics 103(8):378-387, 2003.

5 H. Parke and C. Coble, Teachers designing curriculum as professional development: A model for transformational science teaching, Journal of Research in Science Teaching 34(8):773-789, 1997.

6 W. Penuel and L. Gallagher, Preparing teachers to design instruction for deep understanding in middle school Earth science, Journal of the Learning Sciences 18(4):461-508, 2009.

7 W. Penuel, L. Gallagher, and S. Moorthy, Preparing teachers to design sequences of instruction in Earth science: A comparison of three professional development programs, American Educational Research Journal 48(4):996-1025, 2011.

Suggested Citation:"5 Supporting Science and Engineering Teachers Through Professional Development." National Research Council. 2015. Sharing the Adventure with the Student: Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21751.
×

To support the work of development, the team is using a tool developed by Brian Reiser called a storyline diagram. The storyline diagram helps to frame an overall phenomenon and, in their case, an engineering design challenge for the unit. In their ecosystems unit, students will be exploring the phenomenon of how humans are disrupting ecosystems by planting trees. Their challenge is to help the local parks and recreation department to select trees to plant in their schoolyard that will increase biodiversity and maximize benefits to human beings and other organisms. Like all design challenges, this one will engage students in wrestling with the inevitable trade-offs in thinking about “benefits” to the environment, and also see ways that human disruption is not always problematic in ecosystems.

The storyline helps to keep the unit coherent by reminding everyone where they are headed, and what students can explain about the phenomenon that is new after each cycle of activity. It’s organized into micro-cycles of question asking and answering, engaging in science and engineering practices that have to fit together, and each contributes to some aspect of helping students develop the understanding they need to solve the design challenge.

Strategy 3: Formative Assessment about Student Interest and Experience

Penuel said that it is important to elicit students’ prior knowledge in order to develop scientific understandings of phenomena, but they rarely find out what interests, experiences, and practices from home and community they bring that might be used to connect student learning in ways that help them identify with the enterprise of science.

One approach, he noted, that could prove fruitful for classroom assessment is a strategy used in an elementary curriculum unit called “Micros and Me.”8 The unit aims to engage students in the practice of argumentation to learn about key ideas in microbiology. In contrast to many curriculum units, however, this example provides students with the opportunity to pursue investigations related to issues that are relevant to them. The researchers adapted a qualitative methodology from psychology, photo-elicitation, which is used to identify these issues. Research participants take photos that become the basis for interviews that elicit aspects of participants’ everyday lives.9 In Micros and Me, at the beginning of the unit, students take photos of things or activities they do to prevent disease and stay healthy. They share these photos in class as a way to bring personally relevant experiences into the classroom to launch the unit. Their documentation also helps launch a student-led investigation focused on students’ own questions, which are refined as students encounter key ideas in microbiology.

In describing the curriculum, Tzou and Bell10 do not call out the practice of self-documentation of students’ personally relevant experiences as a form of assessment. At the same time, they note that a key function of self-documentation is to “elicit and make visible students’ everyday expertise” relevant to the unit content.11 Eliciting and making visible prior knowledge is an important aspect of assessment that is used to guide instruction. It holds promise as a way to identify diversity in the classroom in science that can be used to help students productively engage in science practices.12

Professional Learning Framework

Penuel concluded by describing an effort of a committee of the Council of State Science Supervisors that he and another researcher, Richard Audet, are supporting. This is an effort to develop a new set of professional learning standards for science education, aligned to the Framework, which also updates the professional development standards outlined in the National Science Education Standards. He said that one of the things that a set of standards

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8 C. Tzou, L. Bricker, and P. Bell, “Micros & Me: A Fifth-Grade Science Exploration into Personally and Culturally Consequential Microbiology,” Curricula, Everyday Science and Technology Group, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash., 2007.

9 M. Clark-Ibañez, Framing the social world through photo-elicitation interviews, American Behavioral Scientist 47(12):1507-1527, 2004.

10 C. Tzou and P. Bell, “Micros and Me: Leveraging Home and Community Practices in Formal Science Instruction,” pp. 1135-1143 in ICLS ‘10 Proceedings of the 9th International Conference of the Learning Sciences, Volume 1, International Society of the Learning Sciences, 2010, http://dl.acm.org/dl.cfm.

11 Tzou and Bell, “Micros and Me,” 2010.

12 Clark-Ibañez, “Framing the social world through photo-elicitation interviews,” 2004; Tzou and Bell, “Micros and Me,” 2010; Tzou et al., “Micros & Me,” 2007.

Suggested Citation:"5 Supporting Science and Engineering Teachers Through Professional Development." National Research Council. 2015. Sharing the Adventure with the Student: Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21751.
×

can do is to provide guidance to providers, educational leaders, and teachers regarding professional development. To craft coherence across diverse providers, Penuel said that it is also important to facilitate processes by which a network of activities and providers come together to discuss the standards and align their work to one another to develop their own learning community.

He said that the magnitude of the “lift” that must be made to realize the vision of the Framework for all students is large. It requires big shifts for teachers and for professional development providers. It requires changes of systems, which are already overburdened by competing reforms and stringent accountability requirements for teachers and schools. But to succeed, Penuel said, we need to start somewhere and start small, while still thinking systemically about what it is we are building. Penuel said that he sees NASA as one of a number of providers of professional development with the potential to contribute as a partner to efforts to build a more coherent science education system.

PANEL DISCUSSION

Sheri Klug-Boonstra, director of Mars Education at Arizona State University; Mariel Milano, director of digital curriculum and instructional design for Orange County Public Schools in Florida; and Annette DeCharon, senior marine education scientist at the University of Maine, joined Penuel and Byers for the panel discussion. The organizing committee developed the following guiding questions to provide focus to the panel discussion:

  • How are standards for professional development used in NASA professional development programs?
  • How do the mechanisms and programs by which NASA programs meet the needs of in-service teachers, and how does this differ from the ways NASA programs meet the needs of pre-service teachers?
  • What are the most effective and widely used delivery models (e.g., online, train the trainers, professional learning communities, summer seminars, internships) for NASA professional development programs?
  • What are example strategies for partnering scientists and educators?

Klug-Boonstra explained that she was classically trained as a science education teacher, and she wanted to find a way to engage students. She ran after-school programs and modeled professional development for elementary teachers. She also previously ran the NASA undergraduate internship program across all NASA centers and eventually returned to K-12.

Mariel Milano stated that she began her career teaching and also served as a science coach, curriculum developer, and a professional development facilitator. She is currently working on developing NGSS-based curriculum with Hofstra University. She also oversees the implementation and conversion of the Digital Learning program in her district. Milano explained that she was on the NGSS elementary and engineering writing team. She emphasized that she believes that NASA’s role is uniquely positioned as a professional development agency in collaboration with districts.

Annette DeCharon explained that her background is in geology and oceanography. She worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a mission planner on Earth and space science missions, and she was the lead for education and public outreach for the TOPEX/Poseidon Mission. She currently does communication and public engagement for the NASA Aquarius Mission, which measures global sea surface salinity.

Moderator Albert Byers began the panel discussion by referencing Penuel’s presentation and the three strategies that he provided. Byers said, “Professional development is ongoing. It’s not a one in, done, one-shot opportunity . . . during the 1-week summer institutes only.” He asked the panelists to provide their impressions on how these strategies might inform their current efforts or knowledge of NASA. He stated that the first strategy was to simply focus on the framework. Teachers would do well to spend some time reading, developing, and understanding key ideas. Byers asked the panelists how they would apply this strategy, given their experience and relation with NASA.

Klug-Boonstra explained that she and her colleagues have had to reassess the issue of evaluations. They conduct deep evaluations with their conferences and workshops to understand what will be helpful, and they have learned that incremental and small things are paying off. They make an attempt to understand who the audience will be in terms of teachers, the grade groups, the level, and local knowledge. They also ensure that they recon-

Suggested Citation:"5 Supporting Science and Engineering Teachers Through Professional Development." National Research Council. 2015. Sharing the Adventure with the Student: Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21751.
×

nect with teachers. The teachers become the students and go through what their students will experience. She explained that having people who have been in the classroom help to design the professional development results in trust from teachers.

Milano explained that Orange County Public Schools focuses a lot on developing evidence statements with teachers because the district in which she works is used as a basis for proficiency determination. She added that using rubrics against which student progress is judged helps in understanding where students are going; thus, this is an effective mechanism. She then explained that one of the things that her district has done is keep a core group of teacher leaders employed on assignment at the district office for partners to work with directly. She stated that the method of going from school to school can have a small-term impact but not a large-term impact. She stated that she wished that more partnerships included the idea of analyzing assessment tasks.

DeCharon explained that shifting to the thematic approaches, as opposed to mission-specific approaches, will make NASA more flexible in serving the professional development needs of educators. She stated that the science and engineering practices used in the classroom could be modeled after the authentic work being done by NASA professionals. She stated that many scientists and engineers are beginning to realize that they need to learn about how the classroom operates and how teachers do their job in order to work with them effectively as partners.

Penuel stated that part of working with districts is understanding that there is a need to work by persuasion, and they rarely have the ability to command that teachers attend professional development. “But pre-coaching your speakers, pre-preparing your speakers in terms of the languages that the teachers are using, in terms of the kinds of professional development they need,” is vital, Penuel said. “And making sure that the scientists can also adopt that language and then use their relevant, real-world examples to tie right into the concepts that you’re teaching” is valuable, he added. “It is not just science talk and science lingo—but actually connecting with the way teachers need to meet those standards or those crosscutting concepts or those practices.”

Klug-Boonstra mentioned the evolution of understanding the needs of teachers, and an opportunity associated with this is bringing in subject-matter experts. She stated that NASA has a great opportunity to make that connection with teachers.

Byers asked the panelists’ opinions regarding co-design for curriculum with teachers. DeCharon began with a discussion of concept maps. She explained that her group has trained more than 250 scientists and engineers in concept mapping, which consists of deconstructing complex science into discreet concepts and describing their relationships. She explained that she and her team have worked with scientists and engineers and have had them break down their science into concept maps, followed by workshops and webinars where they sit down with teachers or educators. She stated that scientists have a way of presenting their information that often is not well-matched with what students need—the different cultures problem that was raised by many panelists throughout the workshop. Thus, she said, teachers can help inform scientists, which results in the scientists being able to see their work in the context of the needs of society in classrooms. She noted that many scientists have redone their own teaching and that they have re-organized their entire curriculum for their classrooms.

Milano explained that her group is involved in curriculum design or co-design every summer. She explained that many times people come in and redesign a curriculum for a week or two over the summer, which has value. However, because it only touches one course, the district is often left without the ability to replicate that in multiple courses. She provided the example of the “Bridge to STEM” program, which was an early-childhood, pre-physics program that took research from the National Association for Education of Young Children and the National Science Foundation and focused on how to teach children about the force of motion in pre-kindergarten and on through first grade. A small group of teacher leaders from the early childhood community worked closely with university professors and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals to design lessons, test them in classrooms, and go through the revision process based on what was learned from students, teachers, and parents, which resulted in a firm curriculum. She then discussed a positive example of co-design, which was a project called Moving STEM into the Main STREAMS, whose mission was to determine how to get STEM learning into all subject areas. NASA and Kennedy Space Center hosted virtual field trips and face-to-face experiences in which people were brought out and shown what types of jobs students can obtain directly out of high school or college. Feedback was provided regarding what skills were missing, and lessons were developed based on that gap analysis.

An audience member made a comment about professional development and said that the scientist/educator

Suggested Citation:"5 Supporting Science and Engineering Teachers Through Professional Development." National Research Council. 2015. Sharing the Adventure with the Student: Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21751.
×

partnership benefits both sides. He asked Klug-Boonstra if she is able to bring scientists along for professional workshops. Klug-Boonstra responded that her group brings along graduate and undergraduate students to be a part of professional development to expose them to and have them benefit from the kind of learning that is going on.

Penuel provided detail about the curricular co-design work in Denver. He stated that his group is gaining access to “break down the walls” of schools so that kids can do science and connect to the community, which is the heart of the vision behind citizen science.

Another audience member asked the panelists about recommendations or thoughts on the role of NASA with regard to the challenges, opportunities, and needs of pre-service teachers. Penuel stated that his group provides its pre-service teachers with concrete images of what three-dimensional science learning looks like. He explained that curriculum analysis is also important. His group prepares teachers with critical analytic skills. He posed the question of how to form a network of support for a new teacher to learn who are the experts and great science teachers in their particular building or district. He stated that support is needed due to a disconnect between the experience of most pre-service teachers and the expectations placed on them when they go into a district.

An audience member mentioned that he used to go out into community high schools and middle schools to discuss science and encourage students to go to college. He mentioned that the late Sally Ride had emphasized that the problem is mathematics because this is what will cause students to drop out, not the science. He specifically mentioned that this is a larger problem for underrepresented minorities and girls and young women.

Penuel replied that it is fundamental to engage children in computational thinking about systems. He said the crosscutting concept of scale has a deeply mathematical focus and it is relevant to NASA. He explained that educators are losing math students, partly at the undergraduate level, because children in science and engineering are not substantively involved in solving complex problems. Milano stated that her group struggles with computational thinking, and it is constantly looking for more authentic ways to bring in real-world experiences.

An audience member brought up the topic of long-term partnerships. She stated that in NASA Science Mission Directorate public outreach, they have enjoyed long-term stability. However, due to the potential funding model change, this stability may be lost, and the ability to do long-term partnering may be lost as well. She asked Milano, as well as the other panelists, what can be done if this ability is lost. Milano responded by stating that there is meaningful work that can be done if it is not possible to engage in a long-term partnership. She provided an example of engaging in the development of virtual field trip models. She stated that in her position, one of her roles is to curate digital learning objects. She suggested developing professional development programs around how to use digital learning objects from NASA, assisting schools districts with reviewing their own curriculum, and moving training to a blended format or using online courses because the face-to-face delivery model is often not cost-effective.

Penuel explained that one component of going after competitive grants is figuring out what new problem can be addressed through a partnership. He stated that there are new funding programs for research practice partnerships. He often discusses the significance of entering a partnership and figuring out what problems will be worked on that will require renegotiation in school districts.

An audience member stated that there was a lack of discussion at the workshop so far about elementary-level professional development. He stated that there are many science-phobic and math-phobic elementary teachers. Penuel responded by referencing work being done by his colleagues at the University of Washington focused on adapting kit-based science. His colleagues are doing professional development work focused on adapting kits, for the NGSS world, to incorporate scientific explanation and engagement in argumentation. He is also seeing focused professional development at the elementary level all over the country. Klug-Boonstra explained that science-phobic teachers are afraid that they will be asked a question they cannot answer. Thus, in professional development they create a flipped classroom in which kids can be enabled and teachers are free from the fear of not knowing.

An audience member commented that NASA brings more than just wonder. NASA builds things that have never been built before. The audience member then transitioned into professional development and suggested that it may be useful for NASA to engage in professional development for teachers that is focused on mission events such as the New Horizons mission’s flyby of Pluto and the Juno mission’s fly-by of Jupiter (Figure 5.1). She asked the panelists to discuss short-term versus long-term professional development. DeCharon explained that a solution could be looking at all of education and public outreach as a team and thinking of missions as collective, as

Suggested Citation:"5 Supporting Science and Engineering Teachers Through Professional Development." National Research Council. 2015. Sharing the Adventure with the Student: Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21751.
×

images

FIGURE 5.1 New Horizons’ flyby of Pluto in 2015 is an example of an event that can be used in science classrooms. SOURCE: Courtesy of NASA/JHU-APL/SwRI/Steve Gribben.

opposed to each individual mission event at a specific moment. However, she emphasized taking advantage of a moment to get people’s interest. Klug-Boonstra explained that her group’s approach was to have children become “eReporters” and have them find events that are going on in the world. Thus, the children are required to find the stories and determine which ones are important to bring recent science events to the attention of the class.

Penuel brought up the issue of equity with events-based work. He explained that when teaching is driven by events, schools under the least amount of pressure with the most advantaged students are able to do events-based work while other schools cannot.

Suggested Citation:"5 Supporting Science and Engineering Teachers Through Professional Development." National Research Council. 2015. Sharing the Adventure with the Student: Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21751.
×
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Suggested Citation:"5 Supporting Science and Engineering Teachers Through Professional Development." National Research Council. 2015. Sharing the Adventure with the Student: Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21751.
×
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Suggested Citation:"5 Supporting Science and Engineering Teachers Through Professional Development." National Research Council. 2015. Sharing the Adventure with the Student: Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21751.
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Suggested Citation:"5 Supporting Science and Engineering Teachers Through Professional Development." National Research Council. 2015. Sharing the Adventure with the Student: Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21751.
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Page 33
Suggested Citation:"5 Supporting Science and Engineering Teachers Through Professional Development." National Research Council. 2015. Sharing the Adventure with the Student: Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21751.
×
Page 34
Suggested Citation:"5 Supporting Science and Engineering Teachers Through Professional Development." National Research Council. 2015. Sharing the Adventure with the Student: Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21751.
×
Page 35
Suggested Citation:"5 Supporting Science and Engineering Teachers Through Professional Development." National Research Council. 2015. Sharing the Adventure with the Student: Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21751.
×
Page 36
Suggested Citation:"5 Supporting Science and Engineering Teachers Through Professional Development." National Research Council. 2015. Sharing the Adventure with the Student: Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21751.
×
Page 37
Suggested Citation:"5 Supporting Science and Engineering Teachers Through Professional Development." National Research Council. 2015. Sharing the Adventure with the Student: Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21751.
×
Page 38
Next: 6 Evaluation of Education and Evaluation in Practice within NASA SMD »
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On December 2-3, 2014, the Space Studies Board and the Board on Science Education of the National Research Council held a workshop on the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) education program - "Sharing the Adventure with the Student." The workshop brought together representatives of the space science and science education communities to discuss maximizing the effectiveness of the transfer of knowledge from the scientists supported by NASA's SMD to K-12 students directly and to teachers and informal educators. The workshop focused not only on the effectiveness of recent models for transferring science content and scientific practices to students, but also served as a venue for dialogue between education specialists, education staff from NASA and other agencies, space scientists and engineers, and science content generators. Workshop participants reviewed case studies of scientists or engineers who were able to successfully translate their research results and research experiences into formal and informal student science learning. Education specialists shared how science can be translated to education materials and directly to students, and teachers shared their experiences of space science in their classrooms. Sharing the Adventure with the Student is the summary of the presentation and discussions of the workshop.

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