By Elizabeth Mulkerrin, NSTA President
Posted on 2022-08-22
The National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) begins the new school year with a new vision, mission, and strategic plan. NSTA’s vision is for science literacy and education to be recognized as vital to the future of our society, enabling us to make informed decisions about the collective challenges we face. The mission delves deeply into transforming science education to benefit all through professional learning, partnerships, and advocacy. When you reflect on NSTA’s vision and mission, note that they align with the movements happening across the country in science education. We see the need for increased science instruction time; we see the need for science educators; we see the need for increasing the public’s perception of science education as a profession; and we see the need for diversified teachers. Because all of these needs are essential, not addressing them could cause a downward spiral of conditions in our profession. Instead, it is time for us to seize the opportunity to use our voices to demonstrate the importance of science education and science for all students.
We all have a role in advocating for science education and taking advantage of the opportunities that arise around our communities. It takes more than administrators and politicians to make changes in the science education profession. It requires the voices of the teachers, students, and business leaders. Each and every one of us plays a significant role in providing dynamic learning experiences and opportunities for all students. Every community has its share of experts to contribute to the efforts to improve and increase the importance of science education. Educators, scientists, universities, and businesses joining forces gives us more momentum and louder voices to make science education a priority.
Everyone talks about changing the importance of science within the school day, but little to no change has occurred. It is time for the teachers to become the advocates and use their voices to make the changes happen.
So how do we do this? you ask. One way to start is by asking members of your community to provide meaningful science experiences. Simply engaging businesses and educators in collective learning experiences not only demonstrates the power of partnerships, but also is the beginning of establishing advocating partners for high-quality science education throughout the community. Science educators and business leaders communicating about how learning experiences and engagement are impacting science learning for all students is a powerful action within communities and leads to change. Creating science learning that connects and deepens science experiences demonstrates the importance of the science education profession over time.
Combining the strengths of teaching professions results in relevant and applicable professional development experiences, tools, and resources for all in science sensemaking, and building the science workforce is another way to strengthen professionalism.
I challenge all science educators to not only use their voices to create opportunities, but also to become leaders within the community and demonstrate the importance of the profession. Building on the principle that we are stronger as a whole is only true if we extend our strength beyond the classroom. Together, science educators and business leaders will influence and create the changes needed to raise the profile of the science teaching profession.
Start this school year strong by using your voice to become a leader in science education.
Have a great school year!
Elizabeth Mulkerrin, Ed.D., NSTA President
Dr. Elizabeth Mulkerrin is president of the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA). Her term began on June 1, 2022, and concludes on June 1, 2023. A desire for lifelong science learning and a passion for the natural world brought her to the Omaha Zoo and Aquarium, where she has served as Vice President of Education since 2000. As an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha, she teaches a graduate course in science education and an administrative leadership course. Mulkerrin has also published works on a myriad of topics including STEM careers, job shadowing, professional learning, and collaborative initiatives between informal and formal education.