The South Coast Science Project (SCSP) provides professional development for elementary teachers in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Our program works primarily with schools that serve large numbers of underrepresented minorities, ELLs, and economically disadvantaged students. Due to the wide area that we serve, our program is divided into two subprograms to support the needs of regional teachers and districts. The professional development opportunities we provide are the Summer Institute and SciTrek. Although teachers can participate in one or both of the programs, they are coherently designed to meet the goals of SCSP and CSMP.
Each year SCSP hosts a week-long Summer Institute at a local elementary school in Santa Barbara, which is open to any interested TK-6th grade teacher. The goals of the Institute are to strengthen teachers’ understanding of science content and pedagogy. During the Institute, teachers engage in NGSS aligned three-dimensional activities that can be taken back to their classroom and used with their students. After completion of the Institute, lesson sequences are posted on our website for any teacher to use. The content of the Institute is on a 6-year rotation cycle and includes the following subjects: physics, chemistry and engineering, earth science, environmental science, life science (molecules, organisms, and ecosystems), and life science (evolution and heredity).
Another key goal of the Summer Institute is to build teacher leaders. This is done by recruiting teachers that have attended at least one Summer Institute to join our teacher leadership team. This leadership team designs, tests, and presents the activities that are used for the Summer Institute.
SciTrek is a science outreach program that focuses on allowing 2nd-12th grade students to engage in the scientific practices first-hand via modules. Two modules are provided per grade level and focus on a wide variety of science subjects that are aligned to a grade level specific NGSS PE. Modules allow students to observe a common phenomenon. Students are then challenged to explore the phenomenon deeper, in small groups facilitated by a UCSB student mentor, by picking an aspect of the phenomenon to design an experiment around. Students’ results are then presented to the rest of the class to achieve a more complete understanding of the phenomenon.
In addition to providing programing for students, SciTrek also provides professional development for teachers via an apprenticeship model. This model allows teachers to patriciate in teacher-only professional development where, depending on teachers' comfort in three-dimensional teaching, they either carry out the module as a student and learn how to facilitate small student groups or work with a SciTrek staff member on the pedagogy behind leading the entire class through the process. After the teacher-only professional development, teachers carry out the module in their own classroom with a SciTrek staff member present to provide support. The end goal is that teachers are able to lead the class through the modules with no SciTrek staff person and start to integrate the three-dimensional teaching practice they learned into non SciTrek lessons. Once teachers reach this goal, they are still provided the UCSB mentors and materials for carrying out the modules.