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U.S.-China educators advance global context, science ed

By

Margaret Coulombe

Julie Luft, a professor of science education in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University, is part of a delegation of prominent U.S. educators traveling to Shanghai, China, to participate in the 2010 Sino-U.S. Science Education Forum taking place Nov. 15-18.

The forum is co-hosted by the National Science Teachers Association and the China Association of Children's Science Instructors (CASCI).

Attendees from both countries will share information about science education trends in the United States and China, and discuss professional development for science educators, the design and implementation of science curriculum and lessons, educator training, informal science education and science education resources.

The group also will visit a number of local schools and nearby historic areas.

“This unique opportunity allows science educators from both countries to discuss current practices in science education, and envision new and novel endeavors that enhance teacher and student learning,” said Luft, who is also a board member and research division director for the National Science Teacher's Association (NSTA). “Our discussions will ultimately allow me to consider how research in science education should be conducted and shared in order bridge different countries and the research and practice gap we all experience.”

“Learning more about the science education provided in other countries is important to today’s teachers and to the National Science Teachers Association,” said Francis Eberle, NSTA's executive director. “We are living in a ‘global society’ and teachers need to think about themselves, about their students, and about teaching and learning in a global context. These international collaborations can only help to improve the quality of science teaching and learning in our country.”

The Arlington, Virginia-based National Science Teachers Association, www.nsta.org, is the largest professional organization in the world promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning. Their current membership includes approximately 60,000 science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, business and industry representatives, and others involved in science education.

Luft was recently awarded a distinguished achievement award from the Association of Education Publishers (AEP) for her book "Reforming Secondary Science Instruction," the third in a series published by NSTA. The volume was the winner in the professional development/school inprovement category for grades 9-12 and co-edited by Luft, Julie Gess-Newsome, the J. Lawrence Walkup Distinguished Professor of Science Education with Northern Arizona University, and Randy Bell, president elect of the Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE).

Luft, who also is a faculty member in ASU's Mary Lou Fulton Teacher's College and professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, was chosen as ASTE's "Outstanding Science Teacher Educator of the Year" in 2010. She is the principal investigator on two National Science Foundation grants that invest in teacher training at ASU: Persistent, Enthusiastic, Relentless, Induction Science Teachers (PERSIST) and Science Teachers in Arizona-Retention and Recruitment (STARR), which is part of the Robert Noyce Scholarship program.