STEMJourneys.org Safari

When I opened my email to find I’d been accepted to present at the national conference for the National Science Teachers Association, I thought maybe there’d been a mistake. In fact, I went into a bit of denial, unable to decipher the 1 in 5,000 chance I’d been given. It took a round of holiday travel to reboot my system and I thought, “Whoa! This is a huge opportunity!” and the preparations began.

When the big day came, I walked through sunny LA’s charming downtown to the convention center, nervous and prepared. 15,000 science teachers are in this building, sharing ideas and updates for an important time in science education. My presentation was late in the day, and I thought my goal – 17 teachers to arrive – was aggressive.

Over 30 teachers arrived to learn about science and literacy integration through STEMJourneys.org. Most of them high school chemistry teachers from around the nation. Wow!

In our time together, we covered how thematic Interactive Reading Passages, mixed with multimedia Waypoints, bring science and media full circle for middle school and high school. We overviewed how Passages give students context to their learning, opportunities to meet real scientists and engineers, and practice data analysis and graphing interpretation. We shared Passages on the middle school Researching Climate and high school pilot, Researching Dolphins. We brainstormed how Passages are used in various classrooms, and discussed their needs in their classrooms. We exchanged contact information to continue to build relationships and support for our nation’s adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards and the quest for quality cross-curricular resources to meet the demand.

In my profession, with a unique blend of formal and non-formal science education and a heavy emphasis on curriculum development, presentations with peers are hallmark to professional development. These events, like defending my master’s thesis to my peers last year, mark important milestones in providing STEMJourneys.org’s Passages to teachers. The journey to build STEMJourneys.org, now two years old, is the most remarkable one I’ve ever been fortunate enough to embark on. Where will the future take us, and how will peers use this significant program? I can’t wait to find out.

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