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 SDCOE Science Efforts Lead to Exploratorium Workshop

​Nearly 50 teachers from across the county found that tackling new state standards doesn't have to be boring.

Through a partnership with the Exploratorium in San Francisco and the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE), the teachers enjoyed three days of in-person, hands-on learning. They will also participate in three follow-up webinars on the California Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) beginning this month.

The professional learning experience was possible due to San Diego County's ongoing work to build the capacity and leadership skills of teachers in the NGSS through the San Diego County Office of Education's Elementary Science Academy and its partnership with the San Diego Science Project.

The 48 teachers were from Cajon Valley Union, Carlsbad Unified, Chula Vista Elementary, Del Mar Union, Fallbrook Union, La Mesa-Spring Valley, South Bay Union, and Valley Center-Pauma school districts.The Carlsbad Unified team explores chemical reactions at the Exploratorium workshop.

"The Exploratorium's Institute for Inquiry reached out to us about a National Science Foundation grant and our team was very happy to be able to collaborate on this opportunity for our districts," said SDCOE Science Coordinator Chelsea Cochrane.

The Exploratorium's Institute for Inquiry workshop highlighted the instructional shifts of the NGSS and focused on how to support teachers as they implement 3-D learning with their students, Cochrane said.

 "I was able to gain a deeper understanding of what's involved in the NGSS and will now be better equipped to support professional learning on my campus as we continue to roll out these standards and the practices that go with it," said Debra McLaren, the principal at Wolf Canyon Elementary School in Chula Vista Elementary School District.

District attendees were able to learn from the Exploratorium experts and collaborate with other teams on effective ways to help teachers incorporate the NGSS into their classrooms.  

"We are excited to bring the Science and Engineering Practices activity to our professional development," said Kimberly Huesing, director of elementary education at Carlsbad Unified School District.

Liz Loether, the coordinator of educational technology at Cajon Valley Union School District said the event reinforced the learning offered by SDCOE's Science team and the district's goal of inquiry-based science for all students.

"The Cajon Valley team made excellent use of our time at the Exploratorium with experts and follow-up meetings," she said. "New professional learning and support will start immediately."

The workshop was March 2 to 4 and the follow-up webinars are May 22, Sept. 14, and Nov. 14.