by Monica Devanas, SCI-MidAtlantic Co-Director, SENCER Co-PI
On Saturday, April 30th, over 50 teachers from many districts across New Jersey joined with 15 SENCER community leaders to explore ways the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and SENCER’s focus on civic issues could spark investigations into natural phenomena.
Kathy Browne, associate professor in Geological, Environmental and Marine Sciences at Rider University, and Co-Director of the SENCER MidAtlantic regional Center for Innovation (SCI), hosted the meeting and organized and facilitated the discussions. Long-time SENCER leader DonnaJean Freeden, Provost of Rider University and former Dean of Arts and Sciences at Southern Connecticut State University, welcomed the group and illustrated the great role SENCER plays in STEM teaching and beyond. An overview of what SENCER is and does was offered by Monica Devanas, also a MidAtlantic regional Co-Director.
Following the welcomes, teachers, seated by grade level, began to grapple with natural synergies of SENCER and NGSS. The ideas of observable natural phenomena and civic issues generated particularly exciting discussions, from having stink bugs in the classroom, different creatures in different environments, aging pipes in schools, alternatives to using salt on roads, to “why is this Robin’s egg on the ground when there are no trees nearby?” Wide-ranging discussions with equally wide-ranging examples and immediate development of activities were the hallmarks of the work sessions. It seems that both teachers and consultants were stimulated to think outside the curricular box, with great energy and excitement.
Special thanks to the SENCER “consultants and friends” who joined us for the day: Kathy Browne, Rider University; Yuxi Chen, Colonia Middle School in Woodbridge; Susan Coletta, Rutgers Waksman Scholars; Irene Dabrowski, St. John’s University; Monica Devanas, Rutgers University; Marilyn Dono-Koulouris, St. John’s University; Catherine Duckett, Monmouth University, Urmi Ghosh-Dastidar, New York City College of Technology; Roberta Hayes, St. John’s University; Mangala Kothari, LaGuardia Community College; Margo Lynn Mankus, Texas Instruments; Eliza Reilly, NCSCE and SENCER; Davida Smyth, Mercy College; Nellie Tsipoura, NJ Audubon; and Frank Wattenberg, United States Military Academy.