From March 30–April 2, two science teachers from CSI schools—Albert Kok of Beacon Christian in St. Catharines, Ontario, and Susan Koppendrayer of Calvin Christian in Edina, Minnesota—attended the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) conference in Nashville, Tennessee. During their time there they jointly presented two seminars on behalf of Christian Schools International. The sessions focused on “Designing lessons for the private school that implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and engineering design process” and “Empowering our students to be citizen scientists.” The two sessions were attended by science teachers from across North America.
“Many of those attending our seminars were Christians teaching at small, private schools,” said Koppendrayer. “CSI had the unique opportunity to provide a place/space for the Christian teacher. The CSI network, resources, and Christian worldview perspective are a needed voice, and having a presence on the national stage is a great opportunity for CSI and for Christian educators.”
“Our sessions were well received,” said Kok. “We also learned some things: we discovered that private schools don't necessarily follow the NGSS, they vary in size and style of education, and they have a strong vision about teaching the whole child.”
“The conference was also an opportunity to see how a private Christian school voice could be heard at a national science convention,” said Kok. “Seeing Bill Nye at the conference was great; his enthusiasm for science as well as his creativity in expressing his ideas has always impressed me. However, when he jokes about his debate with Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis, the majority of the audience laughs with him. It is intimidating, and we can wonder how we will fit in. When we did our sessions, however, we realized that there are others who think like we do.”
“Christians do attend NSTA conventions,” said Koppendrayer.”I have been attending NSTA conferences as a way to receive additional training in content area, understand the new trends in science education, and to network with educators who are teaching similar subjects and similar grades. Christians who attend the NSTA conference are teachers who strive for excellence in their classrooms and want to learn about the best practices in science education.”
“I attended a session where the leaders of the NGSS were demonstrating to the participants how they need to weave storylines into their science classes in order to motivate their students to learn,” said Kok. “We in the Christian schools are privileged. We get to use the greatest story ever told to express and understand the meaning and purpose of what we are learning. But regardless of where you teach, there is always a need for new and exciting ideas in our classroom. These are great sessions to attend.”