By Heather Waldron
STEM skills are becoming increasingly important in a variety of fields. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for STEM occupations in the U.S. is more than twice that of non-STEM occupations and STEM Occupations are projected to grow by 8.0 % between 2019 and 2029, compared with 3.4% projected growth for non-STEM occupations. Additionally, the Colorado Talent Pipeline reports the majority of the top 10 highest growing occupations in the Denver Metro area are STEM-aligned careers, from IT, to Statisticians, to veterinarians; our students will need STEM knowledge and skills to fill these projected openings. Jeffco students have the potential to solve the world's greatest and most complex problems, and a high quality STEM education will allow them to develop the knowledge and skills to turn those ideas into reality.
Jeffco Schools currently offers numerous STEM programs for students throughout our district. Some are vendor specific, such as Creative Learning Systems or Project Lead the Way, however many are teacher developed programs that pull together a variety of resources. The common thread across all STEM programs should be the emphasis on transferable STEM specific skills such as defining problems and designing solutions. (See STEM Skills in Figure 1). These unifying STEM skills have been taken from Next Generation Science Standards Science and Engineering Practices. They are applicable across STEM careers, intersect with core content, and are directly aligned to state legislation allowing for a STEM Endorsed Diploma upon high school graduation.
Figure 1: Transferable STEM skills (see NGSS SEPs) apply to a variety of STEM-Aligned Career Pathways.
STEM content and skills are emphasized for students PK-12 in core content courses through inquiry and phenomena-based science, complex tasks in mathematics that emphasize standards of mathematical practice, and computer science and engineering design integration across disciplines. In addition to core content, secondary students have the opportunity to engage in industry aligned career pathways that develop the academic, technical, and professional skills necessary for a successful future in STEM.
Figure 2: K-12 progression of STEM programming
For questions or support please contact Jeffco STEM Coordinator, Heather Waldron.
By Megan Hurley
Last science blog we discussed ways to shift our science instruction with one small teacher move: Using phenomenon for students to first explore and then to explain. Today, I would like to introduce a planning tool that can help us tackle the other three aspects of shifting our instruction to a three-dimensional approach. The four pieces that are necessary are task, content, teacher moves, and student moves. Let’s take a closer look:
As you are planning consider these 4 questions:
Small Shifts in Science: Using Phenomenon
By Megan Hurley and Cathy Goodheart
As we shift our science instruction to include the three dimensions, an easy way to shift is simply changing the order in which we plan and implement our instruction.
Moving the explanation to after the exploration of ideas, builds on student sense making. To do just that, teachers can ask students to explore using a variety of teaching strategies; however, starting with a natural phenomenon is a perfect fit.
A phenomenon is simply an observable event. In the science classroom a carefully chosen phenomenon can drive student inquiry. Phenomena add relevance to the science classroom showing students science in their own world. A good phenomenon is observable, interesting, complex, and aligned to the appropriate standard. Watch Paul Anderson discuss Scientific Phenomena and Sensemaking
Want more info and resources? Master List from Wonder of Science
Science: Journey or Destination?
The science team was presented with a fun challenge of creating a key for an assessment sample from the Wonder of Science. Fifth grade teacher-extraordinaire, Lynn Story reached out requesting the solution to identifying the mystery location presented in an assessment from theWonderofScience.com. She explained that her students were engrossed in the exercise and were looking for confirmation.
Lightbulb! The science team offered to meet with Ms. Story’s students the following week so they could present their evidence that supported their answers. We couldn’t wait to meet the students to hear their responses, but there was something big missing - we didn’t know the REAL answer! How exciting! And what a great opportunity to dive into the reality of scientists all over the world! Of course, we wanted to give it a go. So on a Friday evening, with puzzled looks from our spouses, we started to work. After Googling any possible answers unsuccessfully, we rolled up our sleeves and engaged in the exercises of the assessment. Texting back and forth, the team couldn’t come to an agreed upon location and ended with high hopes that the 5th graders at Leawood could set us straight.
Where was this video shot?
The time-lapse video provides clues that guide students to identifying the location of the video. Additional data such as length of shadows at specific times throughout the day, compass direction of the shadow, and temperatures offer further hints to help narrow down the location.
We won’t ruin your own fun, but rest assured the students at Leawood provided convincing evidence for their responses. Lynn Story also reached out to Paul Anderson, creator of the assessment from the WonderofScience.com and Bozeman Science on YouTube, who confirmed her students’ responses!
If your students want to stump the science team or share their learning adventures, please reach out!
Megan Hurley and Cathy Goodheart
Science: Picture Perfect Science/ STEM
By Cathy Goodheart & Megan Hurley
Stretched for time? The new K-5 science resource is PERFECT for integrating science into your literacy block! Each 5E model lesson uses two trade books to engage students in the wonders of science. This resource is equipped with the student-facing pages and teacher guided lesson plans. Each school received three teacher’s manuals and accompanying trade books for the Even More Picture Perfect Science lesson book.
Listen to the Science team describing this new resource:
Interested in joining a micro learning lab focused on meaningful science learning? Fill out this interest form.
Curriculum Changes Overview PK-12
If you are looking for a quick overview of the curriculum changes to come in all content areas for the 2020-2021 school year consider checking out this video.
Science Curriculum Update
In 2018, our Colorado Department of Education adopted an adapted version of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). It all started when the National Research Council (NRC) wrote the Framework for K–12 Science Education. Then, the NRC, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Achieve wrote the standards that became known as the NGSS. Our CDE adopted everything except the engineering-specific standards.
The good news is that most of the science content that you are familiar with lives on. A few concepts have shifted grades in order to better align with developmental levels and be better aligned vertically.
The innovations of these new standards include an integrated approach to the three components of a standard. This includes, “what students know” or content, “what students do” or the Science & Engineering Practices, and “how students think” or crosscutting concepts. This takes into consideration that learners have behaviors that assist in mastering the content (the Science and Engineering Practices) and they can and should be making connections to other content (Crosscutting Concepts).
Additionally, since these new standards were released in 2013, many resources have been developed and freely released to aid in the teaching and learning of three-dimensional science. Our new standards really do bring an increase in equity in learning for all students.
Curriculum & Instruction