RAFT Activity Kit: Static Merry-go-Round

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Next Generation Science Standards

Middle Grades Learning Progression Voted on at November 6, 2013 SBE Meeting

On November 6, 2013 the State Board of Education approved a modified recommendation from CDE regarding the adoption of the middle school progressions proposal. Rather than approve an "integrated only" option for schools, the Board approved both the integrated model as proposed by the Science Expert Panel as California's preferred model AND a domain-specific model that will be developed by the same SEP. Districts will have the option to choose what best meets the needs of their students. More information to follow.


The State Board of Education adopted an “option” for California school on Nov 6th. School in California can either adopted an “integrated” approach to science or a “domain” specific model as has been done previously in the past. This is a relief for teachers who have been in the “game “for years as “domain” specific has been the route taken in California by most districts as well as the nation. As I can understand the desire to be “integrated” in instruction, I feel that many teachers already integrate various fields of science into their curriculum. By going to an only ‘integrated” model California would be re-inventing the wheel as school would have to restructure their established science programs as well as having to re consider the qualifications of their multi and single subject teachers .Not to mention textbook companies have to scramble to throw together integrated textbooks that at most wouldn’t even be adopted or be available for at least 2-3 years, well after new testing plans to be already in place.

I understand California’s need to feel like they are creating something new and better with “integrated” only approaches but the domain specific model is working, is established also at high school, college levels…also “domain” specific has been accepted at the national level…even engineering students know “if it aint’ broke, don’t fix it”…

RAFT has always integrated science concepts and can be well used in domain specific classes…

Thom Stephens, RAFT Fellow and Master Teacher

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

RAFT Activity Kits at the Annual Fundraising Dinner

I was excited as soon as I saw the new RAFT Activity Kit "Solar Collector" on the night of the RAFT fundraiser. I spent the rest of the evening sharing my enthusiasm with the patrons who stopped by for a passport stamp. Here's why...

My textbook describes the scientific method using wind turbine efficiency. Currently I pay $200 for a wind turbine kit that serves only 4 students for a total expenditure of $2,000 per year for 10 kits.

In contrast, the new RAFT Activity Kit will allow each of my 155 - 160 students to create their own wind turbine for under $50 - what a tremendous cost savings each year!

In addition, the new RAFT Activity Kit will allow me to include the new NGSS standards on energy and engineering, because the students will learn about solar collectors and create a mathematical model for measuring the efficiency of their wind turbine design.

So, RAFT worked its magic once again. I felt like RAFT held a fundraiser just for me, because with the money saved, now all of the 8th grade Physical Science teachers and all 400 of our 8th grade students can individually participate in the wind turbine project!

Hope Oliver, RAFT Fellow and Middle School Teacher