All posts by Matt Christiansen - Vice Chair Programs

Registration Information for the STANYS Fall Regional Science Conference at Hofstra

In order to register for the conference at Hofstra on Monday, October 16th, participants have three options:

Option A: Online Registration via Credit Card

Participants would be able to choose their workshop preferences while they register, on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note that the online registration is not currently supported by mobile devices.

Option B: Registration by Purchase Order

School districts are encouraged to call Hofstra University in order to discuss the purchase order process (516-463-5750). The registration form below (Form A) must be used by each participant on the purchase order in order to provide workshop preferences and must be included when the purchase order is submitted to Hofstra. All purchase orders and workshop registration forms must be faxed together to 516-463-6006. Again, workshop registration preferences will be entertained on a first-come, first-served basis.

Option C: Registration by Phone

Individual participants that would like to register by phone can call Hofstra University (516-463-5750). Registrants would email or fax the registration form below (Form B) after registering over the telephone.



STANYS State Conference – More Change is Coming!

Science education in NYS is changing, so is the annual State Conference in Rochester!

Come join us November 4th through November 6th, as we roll out workshops focused on the transition to the new New York State Science Learning Standards (NYSSLS). In addition to these several workshops, the Directors-at-Large have collaborated with Subject Area Representatives (SARs) from each section from all over the state to develop half-day institutes that will immerse participants in three-dimensional style teaching and learning.

One noted change that you may observe as you register is the openness of the registration process. Besides the half-day institutes, breakfasts/luncheons, and the Paul Andersen Monday Institute, all workshops will be open enrollment for you to pick and choose your sessions using the official conference app. You must formally register for the three special events (institutes, Paul Andersen, and breakfasts/luncheons), but let your feet guide you to whichever other workshops you may be interested in. For example, if you are inspired by the Chemistry Institute Saturday morning and would like to learn more about chemistry phenomena, you are now free to change your entire conference schedule to find workshops that would meet this new need. You are no longer locked in to particular workshops, so the possibilities are endless!

Please be sure to visit the conference website to view the workshops. The conference app will be pushed out to registrants in early October to start building your custom schedule!

Many of the tried and true events are still happening, like the Wards Giveaway and the Wine and Cheese Reception, so come join us for three days of fun (and a little bit of learning too)!

Looking for Some Phenomenal Phenomena & Ideas on Designing Assessments?

Here are a couple of databanks of NGSS-related phenomena that teachers from various regions of the country have put together. If you find some more, feel free to include those links in the comment section!

Georgia Science Teachers Association: GSE Phenomena Bank

San Diego Schools: #ProjectPhenomena

TJ McKenna: Phenomena for NGSS

EDUConsulting: NGSS Phenomena Resources

With the phenomena, come the assessments. Check out the NGSS Task Formats to see some ideas on how to develop NGSS-style assessments.

Fall Regional Science Conference

The Suffolk Section of STANYS, in partnership with Hofstra University, is proud to announce that the STANYS Fall Regional Conference will be held at the Mack Student Center on Monday, October 16th! Morning registration starts at 7:30am, and the cost of the day is only $65!

Our distinguished keynote presenter will be Professor Joseph Krajcik, the Lead NGSS Writer for Physical Science and Director for the CREATE for STEM Institute at Michigan State University.  Since the publication of the Next Generation Science Standards, Professor Krajcik has played an integral role in the development of formative assessments through the Concord Consortium. You can check out the following video from the National Science Teachers Association, where Professor Krajcik discusses the vision of the NGSS.

The Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation of Science Standards challenges the science education community to support students in developing deeper, useable knowledge to make sense of phenomena or solve problems. This will only occur when students make use of the three dimensions – disciplinary core ideas, scientific and engineering practices and crosscutting concepts. The Framework and the NGSS refer to this as 3-dimensional learning. Three-dimensional learning shifts the focus of science classrooms from environments where students learn about science ideas to places where students do science by exploring, examining and using science ideas to explain how and why phenomena occur and designing solutions to problems. Doing science to learn science helps students form useable knowledge to explain phenomena and make sense of problems. In this session, Professor Krajcik will provide an overview of each of the dimensions and show how they work together to enable students to explain phenomena or design solution to problems. Woven throughout his remarks, he will discuss the opportunities and challenges of engaging learners in three-dimensional learning.

After the keynote address, participants will be able to choose workshops in three separate sessions, with a provided lunch in between. We will be offering two unique double session workshops, where attendees can choose to attend Professor Emily Kang’s workshop on Implementing the NYSSLS/NGSS or to participate in an authentic modeling scenario with Donghong Sun from STEMteachersNYC. Representatives from the Right Question Institute will also be offering two sessions on the Question Formulation Technique, which is one method that STEM teachers could develop students’ ability to ask their own questions.

Besides the double sessions, teachers can also choose from a variety of other workshops from Long Island teachers and college professors focused on improving science education for all students! To check out the full list of workshops, please click here. The link for registration will be active soon for payment by credit card. District purchase orders will also be accepted. Please check back by September 8th for more information on registration!

Bioengineering New Fertilizers

Researchers from Harvard have recently unveiled a new method in bioengineering a bacteria-based fertilizer that has shown tremendous increases in the biomass of selected crops.

Nocera Lab, Harvard University

The Nocera Lab gained recognition in the past in the development of the artificial leaf, which is capable of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen through the use of different catalysts. The researchers have now used this technology to develop the bionic leaf: the artificial leaf used in concert with a particular microorganism capable of using the hydrogen gas evolved from the artificial leaf and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to produce a stored biofuel in the bacteria. When this Xanthobacter bacteria is placed in the soil, it is capable of undergoing nitrogen fixation with the stored biofuel and nitrogen in the air to produce natural ammonia to fertilize the crops. As seen in the image above, the soil with the nitrogen-fixing bacteria (right) had a considerable increase in the biomass of the planted crop.

For more information about the study, check out the press release on the American Chemical Society’s website.

In thinking out the transition to the new standards, this could be an interesting example of an investigative phenomenon or just a great article to bring into the classroom on how scientists are currently trying to solve either the energy crisis or the food demand of our ever-increasing human population.

NYSSLS Was Approved, Now What?

Floating on Water?!

I’ve been listening to many of my classroom teachers and other teachers from around my region. Many teachers at all grade levels are concerned about making the transition to the New York State Science Learning Standards too soon. To their credit, their concerns about the current assessments are very convincing since many teachers’ APPR scores are tied to the Regents or 8th Grade assessments linked to the current core curriculum. However, many of the slow transitions can be made while still maintaining the integrity of our instruction now so that students will still be successful on our assessments now.

First, we can begin to think about using anchoring phenomenon in our everyday instruction. What are anchoring phenomenon you may ask? When I started out planning my units of study as a wide-eyed first-year teacher, I used the chapters in the textbook to guide my sequence of lessons. With the NYSSLS grounded in the ideals of the Framework, the new learning standards call for sequences to be grounded in an overarching natural phenomena instead of the traditional chapter approach. Don’t get me wrong: many of these unit sequences may still revolve around a similar thematic approach like textbook chapters, but the unit plans will piece-by-piece unpack the three-dimensions needed to fully answer this anchoring phenomenon, like the image above with the man seemingly floating on water.

According to Penuel & Bell (2016), anchoring phenomenon should possess the following characteristics:

  1. Build on student everday experiences. This brings in a local dimension to our everyday instruction. Being on an island facing many environmental issues, these phenomena could be linked to perhaps groundwater resources, the formation of Long Island itself, or the loss of shark nurseries in the South Shore bays, for example.
  2. Incorporate multiple performance expectations. Bundling at least two similar performance expectations from the standards will not only help cut down on instructional time, it will also allow students to make deeper connections between multiple areas of the life sciences, physical sciences, and earth and space sciences. Furthermore, bundling could present a way to incorporate the engineering practices from each grade band.
  3. Complex. Students should not be able to answer the questions surrounding the anchoring phenomenon in one lesson or a simple Google search. Investigative phenomenon lack the complexity of anchoring phenomenon since they could be answered by the end of the lesson, so they add an overarching question to the learning objective and allow us to move toward an eventual understanding of the anchoring phenomenon at the end of the unit.
  4. Observable. Students should be able to confront the phenomenon through their everyday observations, laboratory investigations,  or through some form of multimedia presentation. Again, if the students cannot relate somehow to the anchoring phenomenon and are interested in finding out more about it, the unit of study may need to be changed to grab their attention.
  5. Can Be a Case Study or Wonderment. The pine beetle infestation of Long Island could be a very interesting anchoring phenomenon to investigate ecosystems and how the ecosystem can be adversely affected through the introduction of an invasive species. Or students may be interested in the evolution of the Big Bang over the past billions of years. The teacher could then frame the anchoring phenomenon around the formation of our universe, tying in investigative phenomenon as the students move through the sequence of lessons that break down the DCIs into observable chunks for students to dive in deeper.
  6. Include data. Students need to be confronted with real-life messy data in order to make sense of the world around them. Understanding how global climate change affects different aspects of our natural world is a highly complex process with many different variables that always don’t present themselves in a perfect straight line. Students should also be expected to deal with imperfect data and how to make valid conclusions from these experiments. The science and engineering practices, along with cross-cutting concepts, are the perfect vehicle to assist the students in designing and making sense of these investigations revolving around phenomena.

We can begin to take a look around us to see if we can find any everyday phenomenon that could drive a full unit (anchoring phenomenon) or an individual lesson (investigative phenomenon) that meet not only the current standards on which students will still be accessed, but also link well to the New York State Science Learning Standards (NYYSLS). If you find something, see if it meets the criteria listed above. Test it out now to see if students are able to make the connection. Use them as pre-assessments, formative assessments, or post-assessments in your current instruction. Test drive them now and modify them as we get closer to seeing how the new assessments will unfold and as we gain more professional learning opportunities linked to unpacking these exciting new standards. For an example of a storyline incorporating an anchoring phenomenon  in a DNA unit, please check out the Teaching Channel link here. Also, for tools on how to develop storylines (or some already piloted storyline units), please check out this website.

Penuel, W. R., & Bell, P. (2016, March). Qualities of a Good Anchor Phenomenon for a Coherent Sequence of Science Lessons. Retrieved from