Public Affairs, The California State University

Symposium Highlights STEM Education

by Elizabeth Chapin


Fresno State faculty describe the campus Physics Outreach Program and its new Liberal Studies Concentration in STEM at the symposium.

More than 2,000 educators and students gathered to advance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs at the first-annual California STEM Symposium in Sacramento Nov. 18-19.

With faculty, students and staff from 15 campuses hosting 40 workshops, the CSU’s leadership role in STEM education was evident throughout the event.

“Many CSU faculty focus on a ‘learn by doing’ approach to instruction—specifically for future STEM teachers—and that focus aligns with the new Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards,” said CSU Director of Teacher Education and Public School Programs Joan Bissell.

Bissell was one of the many CSU representatives at the symposium to share strategies and resources based on hands-on learning methods. Initiatives at CSU, Chico and San Diego State were among the innovative CSU efforts to be showcased.

Students learning in the Chico State SMART LabCSU, Chico biology professor Bev Marcum turned an undergraduate biology course into a nationally-recognized program called the Science Model for Reflective Teaching (SMART) Lab. In the course, CSU, Chico students teach biology to local elementary students using hands-on projects and experiments.

“It’s a unique course because it’s an undergraduate science class and not part of a credential program,” Marcum said. “After completing the class, many biology students who would never consider it realize they want to pursue teaching science.”

Marcum says the future teachers in the course, who are mostly liberal arts majors, also gain confidence in their ability to teach science.

Physics curricula developed by San Diego State professor Fred Goldberg and colleagues have now been implemented by colleges and universities throughout the country. One course, titled “Physics and Everyday Thinking,” is aimed at prospective elementary teachers and is offered in versions for either small classes or large classes.

Goldberg led a session on his approach to inquiry-based physical science and how it aligns with preparing elementary teachers for the Next Generation Science Standards.

“It engages them in practices of science without lecturing,” Goldberg said. “They are able to see processes and learn them by developing and expanding models to explain scientific phenomena.”

The CSU prepares more than 1,500 math and science teachers every year—with the majority serving in the state’s highest-need schools. Read more about how the CSU’s Math and Science Teacher Initiative is transforming STEM education here