2012-06-22 / Schools

Science teachers go back to school

By Stephanie Guzman
Special to the Acorn


CLIMATE CURRICULUM—Bob Bleicher, professor of science education at California State University Channel Islands, talks with science teachers from high schools in Oxnard Union High School District during a presentation on teaching climate change and weather pattern analysis on June 18 as part of an education institute at the university. CSUCI received a NASA grant for the science department’s summer program. 
IRIS SMOOT/Acorn Newspapers CLIMATE CURRICULUM—Bob Bleicher, professor of science education at California State University Channel Islands, talks with science teachers from high schools in Oxnard Union High School District during a presentation on teaching climate change and weather pattern analysis on June 18 as part of an education institute at the university. CSUCI received a NASA grant for the science department’s summer program. IRIS SMOOT/Acorn Newspapers Fifteen science teachers from five local high schools sat in a California State University Channel Islands classroom on June 18 and, much like their own students on the first day of school, listened attentively to their instructor’s presentation as they took notes.

The Oxnard Union High School District teachers participated in a one-week program called the Summer Climate Science Institute and Camp through CSUCI that brought NASA scientists and climate change experts to instruct the teachers on how to incorporate satellite data and the latest research into their lesson plans.

Bob Bleicher, a science professor at the university, received a $593,000 grant funded by NASA to launch the twoyear summer program. The Camarillo university was one of 14 universities across the nation that won the minority and education grant.

“I chose this proposal because it’s very topical,” Bleicher said. “We’ve all heard about going green and our carbon footprint, and that’s what we want the kids to learn.”

Adolfo Camarillo, Hueneme, Pacifica, Channel Islands and Frontier high schools sent teachers to the instructional program.

“There are a lot of other demands brought onto us through the (California standards),” said Jon McCabe, a freshman science teacher at Camarillo High who said he felt there wasn’t enough time in the school year to thoroughly teach his class about climate change.

Joi Hiraishi, another science teacher at Camarillo High who attended the institute, said despite time constraints put upon teachers, two surveys that she learned about will help her to squeeze a lesson about climate change into her busy curriculum.

Nathan Inouye, a chemistry teacher at Camarillo High and the district’s science resource teacher, said even if students are exposed to just a little of the science of climate change it makes the teens more aware of global warming.

“The most important part is awareness for students,” said Nathan Inouye, a chemistry teacher at Camarillo High and the district’s science resource teacher. “The goal is for our students to be science literate because if they don’t have the depth of knowledge they’re going to be easily swayed by the media.”

On the first day of the institute, teachers discussed the diffi culties of talking about climate change to students. Most were aware that climate change is a politically sensitive topic for the students and their parents.

“As a scientist, there’s no controversy,” Bleicher said. “We’re not under any illusions. I want (students) to think for themselves and check the data out and learn to base their opinions on their own experiences.”

To engage students, the program will hold a two-day summer science camp for 55 Oxnard Union district students on June 25 and 26. Teachers will introduce to the students some of what they learned about global warming.

“We hope (the kids) will take more science courses and consider more science careers,” Bleicher said.

Teachers will continue to develop study materials and lesson plans during the summer and will have access to scientists and resources over the next two years.

Next summer, a different set of teachers from Ventura County schools will attend the second institute on the same subject.

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