College of the Canyons recently hosted a four-day outreach training session for William S. Hart Union High School District science teachers in preparation for the implementation of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which were formally adopted by the State Board of Education in September 2013.
As part of that training, members from the college’s School of Mathematics, Sciences, and Health Professions offered hands-on activities that will work best to support content standards inside K-12 classrooms, while reinforcing the ongoing training planned by the Hart District science teachers and local elementary school teachers.
Participating COC faculty members included the following professors: Mary Bates (geography), Dr. Consuelo Beecher (chemistry), Teresa Ciardi (astronomy/physical science), Dr. Vince Devlahovich (geology), David Michaels (physics/engineering), Ricardo Rosales (biological sciences) and Dr. Eric Lara, Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program director.
“We are excited to assist our Hart District science colleagues with identifying the most effective hands-on activities to engage high school and middle school students,” said Omar Torres, dean of the college’s School of Mathematics, Sciences, and Health Professions.
Offered through the college’s Educational Outreach Alliance with local Santa Clarita Valley school districts, the NGSS training covered content in disciplines such as chemistry, earth sciences, biology, physics and engineering.
The implementation of NGSS is meant to improve science education in schools through a three-dimensional approach: science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts. When combined, each dimension provides a cohesive understanding for students by teaching them to make connections between biology, chemistry, earth science, physics and engineering. These research-based standards also give teachers more flexibility when creating learning experiences for students.
The transition to NGSS in the Hart district will occur over the next several years, starting with the rollout of a pilot program at junior high schools beginning this fall, said Dave LeBarron, director of Curriculum and Assessment for the Hart district.
“Next year we will work with our high schools to come to agreement on a plan for rolling it out at the high school level,” added LeBarron. Pilot programs for high schools are expected to start during the 2017-18 academic year.
Similar outreach training for elementary school science teachers in the Castaic, Newhall, Sulphur Springs, and Saugus Union school districts will also be held at the college July 18-21.
“The college’s mission to provide a high-quality education to students also applies to the next generation of scholars and scientists in our very own community,” said Torres. “We are confident that these new standards will increase scientific literacy in schools and foster a lifelong passion for science in students.”