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The new, national Next Generation Science Standards are coming. How can we use online resources to prepare teachers for them? And with limited resources, can online tools help us reach as many teachers as possible?

This summer, the UC San Diego Science Project (SDSP) was invited to test out the Next Generation Science Exemplar Pilot (NGSX) and find out some answers to these questions.

Through the SDSP, a cohort of 11 teachers from San Diego County spent two days this August at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, testing out this new National Science Foundation funded program. Participants included leadership from the San Diego County Office of Education. The program, designed to bring together teachers to integrate face-to-face learning with interactive online science resources, is currently available to only 48 teachers from five different states in the US.

During these two days, teachers worked together exploring fundamental science concepts hands-on, and via the NGSX web site. They discovered new ways of modeling the movement of air particles, reflected on classroom teaching, and learned more about the upcoming Next Generation Science Standards on schedule to be adopted by California this fall.

“I learned so much and had fun doing it,” said one 4th grade San Diego teacher during the program. “It’s when you have to fit the phenomena to the model you’ve created where you really start to learn — learn the science AND learn how scientists ‘do’ science.”

Another teacher shared, “It was valuable to see classroom video of a teacher soliciting student knowledge during the discussion. It’s so valuable to see great teachers in action.”

These teachers will continue to test out the first version of this pilot into the fall and will provide feedback to the national team of developers who created NGSX.

The hope is that NGSX can grow into a national resource for every teacher K-12, in preparation for a shift from old standards to new.

The SDSP’s effort was part of the CREATE STEM Success Initiative (CSSI) at UC San Diego, an effort to marshal UCSD’s STEM expertise and resources alongside San Diego’s and the K-12 community’s. CSSI is working to support local students (and their teachers) through the K20 pipeline in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (http://create.ucsd.edu/stem-initiative/index.html).

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