Imperial Teachers Lead the Way in Advancing Next Generation Science and STEM learning



Imperial Unified School District science teachers combined metal, rubber and other materials to see if they will float in a learning exercise during the inquiry-based Next Generation Science training at the Imperial High School Library on Tuesday, August 6, 2013. Imperial science teachers underwent three days of training as part of a partnership with the IVROP and UCSD.     PHOTO COURTESY OF JUAN CAMPOS



Imperial, Calif. — While most students are still on summer break teachers are already back to work and getting ready for the upcoming school year.

A group of thirteen Imperial Unified School District teachers gathered at the Imperial High School library to receive training that will provide them with more tools to teach science in their classrooms.


This three day training represents the kickoff of an intensive collaboration and partnership between the Imperial Unified School District and the Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program as the IVROP helps the district seek resources and funding to help the IUSD’s advanced science learning opportunities for teachers, students and the community. This is part of the ongoing collaboration between the Imperial school district and the IVROP which has continued throughout the past year in order to further science learning.


Throughout the week, IUSD science teachers have been learning about the science of renewable energy, inquiry-based learning and have received an orientation on the upcoming Next Generation Science Standards. The final day of the training culminated Thursday at the Reuben H. Fleet Museum and the Natural History Museum in San Diego. Teachers had the opportunity to learn from professional museum exhibit developers on what it takes to develop interactive science exhibits and how to promote hands on, inquiry-based learning opportunities.


Imperial Unified School District Superintendent Lisa Tabarez sees value in this training and the partnership opportunities. Tabarez said she is excited about the opportunity to partner with both the IVROP and the University of California San Diego “to create powerful science learning opportunities for our students.”


“Providing relevant teacher training like this is an important step in transitioning to the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards,” Tabarez said. “Our students need to experience critical thinking activities and work on their critical thinking skills every day.”


During the training, local teachers said they enjoyed the opportunity to train together and focus on scientific learning.


“The training is good for any teacher of science,” said Imperial High School teacher Dennis Gibbs, who attended the training along with other teachers including his brother, Dan Gibbs.


“The standards do not really go in to how to teach a lesson,” said Dennis Gibbs. “This training has allowed us to reach a comfort level to tackle the elephant of Common Core and the Next Generation Science Standards.”

“The timing of the training has been really good,” said Dan Gibbs, a science teacher at Ben Hulse Elementary. “A group of us (teachers) on the Discovery Zone Committee have already completed five lessons. We will take what we have learned and make adjustments for English Language Learners.”


Both teachers said they felt extremely encouraged and supported by Imperial Unified’s direction to support these efforts.


To further these efforts, the Imperial Unified District is currently working on a plan to repurpose the now closed Westside School campus as a community science and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) learning center.


The IVROP is coordinating with the district by aligning this future project with the district’s goals.


The IVROP is also continuously working with the National Science Foundation on resolving final questions on a grant proposal that will provide teachers in Imperial with science training, follow-up support and skills to advance science learning for students and the community.


“IVROP is pleased to partner up with Imperial Unified and we look forward to strengthening the existing collaborative with the district,” said IVROP Interim Superintendent Edwin Obergfell.


IVROP anticipates the grant from the National Science Foundation will be awarded sometime in August 2013.