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History of The CSU-NASA Education Collaborative

Background:

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NASA Centers in California and the throughout the United States (Click to Enlarge)

The CSU-NASA Education Collaborative is a new systemwide initiative being undertaken by the California State University (CSU) and the National Space and Aeronautics Administration (NASA). The goal of this partnership is to improve the availability and quality of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education for current and future teachers throughout California.

The Collaborative formation comes at a crucial time for the founding agencies. The California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) Report, April 2002, reported a continued and growing need for science, mathematics, and technology professionals in California. This need spans the state workforce, K-12 classrooms, the community college system, and four-year Institutes of Higher Education.

The growing shortage of qualified teachers in the science and mathematics fields in the K-12 classrooms is compounded by a shortfall in high school graduates who are prepared to pursue a college education, especially in mathematics and sciences. The report also found that ineffective or inadequate counseling at the community college level lead to a low number of transfer to four-year institutions in these fields.

Fall 2000:
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California State University Campuses (Click to Enlarge)

In fall 2000, NASA initiated conversations for the establishment of a collaborative partnership with CSU teacher preparation programs by hosting daylong conversations between mathematics, science, and technology teacher education faculty and key education specialists of NASA. These meetings, and the over 20 meetings that followed, explored ways to best utilize NASA's resources in CSU teacher preparation programs. Discussions centered on developing a coordinated system which best utilizes NASA educational budget allotments previously spent on individual educational outreach efforts for each NASA mission.

NASA and the CSU are focused on forming and sustaining a faculty-driven, system-wide partnership with the primary goal of improving the availability and quality of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education for current and future teachers throughout California. A Collaborative Planning Group, which included membership from CSU and community college faculty, NASA, K-12 education, and the Chancellor's Office developed a draft Work Plan that outlined a specific goal of the Collaborative, objectives, and possible tactics for accomplishment.

Summer 2002:

The CSU-NASA Education Collaborative hosted an Inaugural Symposium on Science and Math Teacher Preparation on June 25th and 26th, 20032. The Symposium was one of the Pre-Conference events held in connection with the 2003 California K-16 Partnerships and Student Success Conference at CSU Long Beach. The Symposium featured keynote addresses by national science educational leaders and brought together invited teams of CSU faculty, NASA education and science professionals, as well as representatives from the community colleges and K-12 educators in a forum setting.

During the June Symposium, three keynote speakers addressed recent research findings and areas of need in the STEM professions. Dr. Gerry Wheeler, Director of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), spoke on Rethinking Professional Development in the STEM Professions. Dr. Susan Hackwood, Executive Director of the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST), presented findings from the April 2002 CCST Report, Critical Path Analysis of California's Science and Technology Education System. In addition, SDSU faculty member, Dr. Olga Amaral presented her research in Imperial Valley, on Linking Science to Literacy.

The Symposium will provide an opportunity for attendees to discuss refinements of the draft implementation plan and to develop strategies to move the plan for the CSU-NASA Education Collaborative forward. The initial phase of the Collaborative is jointly funded through Pasadena's Jet Propulsion Lab, NASA Headquarters Education Division, and CSU Long Beach. The Collaborative plans to seek long term funding of the project to support emphasis on teacher education and K-12 preparation in the STEM disciplines.

Summer 2003:

The CSU offers faculty professional development opportunities through its Institute for Teaching and Learning. The annual Teacher-Scholar Summer Institute (TSSI)offers a variety of workshops and on June 17 and 18, 2003 offered a NASA/CSU collaborative workshop. TSSI offers an opportunity for reflection, renewal, and conversation between CSU colleagues from throughout the system. The two day workshop focused on better preparing science and math K-12 teachers and is described below.

Educating Science and Math Educators: Collaboration between Subject Matter and Teacher Preparation Faculty

This two-day workshop brought together CSU math, science, and education faculty to discuss their common concerns for developing students who plan careers in K-12 education. These students will be fostering the development of California's children, as well as our future students and America's next generation of mathematicians and scientists. Workshop conversations focused on how CSU faculty can help them meet this challenge. Participants engaged in a series of exercises that involved NASA resources, and the California State Standards. Workshop leaders used NASA websites to demonstrate the effective use of online, interactive, authentic data; and how these websites can be integrated into K-12 as well as university curricula. Science faculty learned about emerging teaching methods in K-12 education that stress active learning, inquiry, and authentic experiences; and education faculty learned about the latest perspectives within the disciplines. The workshop were co-facilitated by a CSU faculty member, Bonnie Brunkhorst (CSU San Bernardino) and a NASA staff member, Art Hammond (JPL) who are experts in inquiry-based curriculum development. Participants also were invited on June 19 to visit the NASA facilities in Pasadena for further discussion of workshop issues and learn of opportunities for continuing collaboration.

Workshop participants had the opportunity to

  • Consider how they might better meet the needs of CSU students who are planning careers in K-12 education
  • Consider the impact of emerging pedagogies in K-12 math and science education on the conduct of CSU math, science, math education, and science education courses
  • Learn how to access and utilize new resources in earth and space science and other materials made available by NASA
    (e.g., see http://quilt.jpl.nasa.gov)
  • Consider the need for ongoing communication among CSU teacher education, math, and science faculty and between CSU faculty, NASA scientists and engineers, and the constituencies they serve

 
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