Earn P.D. Certificates At SciFri’s Educator Phenomena Forum

On November 4, K-12 STEM teachers are invited to Science Friday’s free professional development series, this time all about space!

title on the left reads science friday's educator phenomena forum in block lettering, with illustrated images of science topics including astronauts, buried skulls, and stars; text reads 'November 4, 2021, Free PD for K-12 Educators, Explore phenomena in contemporary science with STEM researchers and educators, For more information, visit ScienceFriday.com/PhenomenaForum'

Science Friday’s Educator Phenomena Forum

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Science Friday’s Educator Phenomena Forum is a free professional development series for K-12 educators on phenomena, facilitated by STEM educators and researchers. Sign up for this fall’s space-themed sessions!

The Educator Phenomena Forum is a professional development series from Science Friday that connects classroom phenomena-focused practice with contemporary STEM research. Check out the resources created for our sessions from November 4, 2021, with two outstanding STEM researcher and educator pairs!

Fall 2021 Sessions

Session 1 – Thursday, November 4 at 5:00pm ET / 2:00pm PT

Life on Venus? Clues From Bacterial Evolution – What can bacterial evolution and adaptation on Earth teach us in our search for life in outer space? Join genetics researcher Jaime Cordova and science teacher Michael Hirsch as they explore how extreme life on Earth may inform our hypothesis of life on the 2nd rock from the Sun.

Click below to view Michael and Jaime’s student investigation!

How Do You Search For Life In The Universe? Use Clues From Microbes!

Session 2 – Thursday, November 4 at 8:00 pm ET / 5:00pm PT

Aurora Borealis: Nature’s Electromagnetic Light Show – We know that auroras happen and they are spectacular, but what causes these silent sky symphonies? Join physicist Jim Schroeder and geoscience educator Laura Hollister as they explore the flow of energy from space that causes auroras.

Click below to view Laura and Jim’s student investigation!

What Causes Some Aurora To Appear In Distinct Lines?

What People Are Saying About The Educator Phenomena Forum

an illustration of a sparkling diamond

“Thank you very much for putting together these resources and saving classroom teachers what can be hours and hours of looking for authentic research/evidence.”

illustration of a pink butterfly“Both of the presenters were awesome! I loved hearing about their research and the resources they created for the classroom are wonderful, thank you to both of them!”

illustration of a yellow star“This is a great fit for the chemistry I teach in the fall. I have been interested in weaving in food science and kitchen science, and this is an amazing place to start!”

illustration of purple rain cloud with two droplets“I am planning to share this phenomenon with the other members of my science department to hopefully move them along the continuum between abstract and real-world/applied science teaching.”

an illustration of a white conch shell“I always appreciate the wide variety of topics the Science Friday team members invite us to explore together!”

Educator Phenomena Forum FAQ

What is the Educator Phenomena Forum?
The Educator Phenomena Forum is a professional development series from Science Friday that connects classroom phenomena-focused practice with contemporary STEM research and work. This fall, we’re following our summertime sessions with two, 90-minute sessions for K-12 teachers. During these sessions, educators will:

  • Learn about fascinating STEM research—brimming with phenomena to explore—directly from extraordinary experts;
  • Explore a new education resource created about the phenomena and research presented;
  • Share strategies for engaging STEM learners in a variety of settings using phenomena;
  • Make connections with fellow educators to debrief and discuss ideas for classroom implementation;
  • Earn a professional development certificate for each session you attend!

Did we mention these sessions are completely free for teachers? Participants can attend one (or both!) sessions of this fall’s Forum series.

Who is the Educator Phenomena Forum for?
All are welcome to attend, but these sessions are best suited for:

What are the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and phenomena-based learning?
The Next Generation Science Standards are K-12 science content standards that identify scientific and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas in science that all students should master in order to prepare for success in college and 21st-century careers. The goal of NGSS instruction is for students to be able to explain real-world phenomena and to design solutions using their understanding of the Disciplinary Core Ideas. Students can achieve this goal by engaging in Science and Engineering Practices and applying Crosscutting Concepts.

A phenomena-based learning approach, backed by NGSS, encourages students to observe natural phenomena, such as a fuzzy bee covered in pollen or guitar strings vibrating in slow motion, then investigate why it occurs. This approach mirrors how actual scientists find answers through reasoning and inquiry—and how Science Friday tells engaging science stories to the general public!

How and when will the Educator Phenomena Forum meet virtually?
The fall sessions will happen on November 4, 2021. The day will feature two sessions, and each session will run for about 1.5 hours. Teachers and informal educators can attend one or both sessions.

We will be using Zoom to meet for this event series. All those who sign up to receive more information will be sent detailed instructions on how to participate, so you can arrive at each session ready to collaborate.

What will it look and feel like?
There will be two collaborative sessions. To begin, the STEM Researcher will tell educators the story of their work, including a Q&A, and the STEM Educator Facilitator will review the classroom resource published on Science Friday’s website. Then, educators will move into breakout rooms to discuss the research and classroom resource and brainstorm further applications for this work in their learning spaces. Before the end of the session, all attendees will come back together for a final Q&A with the STEM Researcher and Educator Facilitator.

In order to receive a professional development certificate, teachers will be required to complete a quick follow-up survey after each session they attend.

Why did Science Friday create the Educator Phenomena Forum?
Science Friday covers contemporary research and innovations in STEM in our weekly reporting. The Science Friday Education Team’s goal is to spark a desire to learn more about the science around us, both on and off the radio airwaves. We have been partnering with educators and scientists to create free STEM activities, lessons, and resources for all learners for almost 10 years. The Educator Phenomena Forum is an extension of that work, designed to provide teachers with access to researchers, a classroom resource about the phenomenon discussed, and a space to talk and share further ideas with fellow educators.

Sounds great, I’m in! How can I register?
The Educator Phenomena Forum is completely free, but you have to register to attend! Sign up to attend and the SciFri team will send you all the information you need, including links in advance of every session.

I want to attend but cannot make those times. Can I still access the session?
Although we hope you can join us live, we understand it might not work with your schedule. Registered participants will be sent instructions on how to view the recording and access materials from the session. The email will also include instructions for completing the requirements for your professional development certificate asynchronously.

I’m a scientist, engineer, or researcher and I’d like to participate!
We would love to have you for future Phenomena Forums! Please email educate@sciencefriday.com with the subject line “Phenomena Forum – STEM Expert Interest” and we will schedule a time to chat about your participation.

How can I stay up-to-date about the Forum?
Sign up for our Educator Phenomena Forum email newsletter—you’ll be the first to hear about updates.

About Our STEM Researchers and Educator Facilitators

Jaime Cordova is a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Genetics with a minor in Life Sciences Communication. His research focuses on studying how bacteria (such as E. coli and Salmonella) respond to varying oxygen levels, what the genetic foundations behind those responses are, and how those genetic foundations have evolved. Additionally, Jaime is interested in understanding if life can exist in other worlds, especially the clouds of Venus.

Michael L. Hirsch is a biologist and science teacher who specializes in curriculum design and crafting hands-on scientific experiences for students. When not championing progressive education, he can be found playing music and building with Legos.

Laura Hollister lives in California’s Central Valley, where she has been an Earth and Environmental Science educator for 18 years. She is passionate about using place-based and inquiry style teaching to help students develop an understanding of the process of science, their own ability to do science, and its relevance to their lives. She holds a B.S. in Geology from CSU Stanislaus and an M.S. in Environmental Geology from Mississippi State and is the past president of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers Teacher Education Division.

Jim Schroeder is an experimental plasma physicist and Assistant Professor at Wheaton College in Illinois. In a universe where over 99% of what we see is made of plasma, he focuses on plasma waves that transport energy and their interactions with electrons and ions that lead to northern lights and radiation belts.

Meet the Writers

About Xochitl Garcia

Xochitl Garcia was Science Friday’s K-12 education program manager. She is a former teacher who spends her time cooking, playing board games, and designing science investigations from odds and ends she’s stockpiled in the office (and in various drawers at home).

About Diana Plasker

Diana Plasker is the Experiences Manager at Science Friday, where she creates live events and partnerships to delight and engage audiences in the world of science.

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