Recently at CAISL, we were honored to host Dr. Stuart Fleischer, Project Director, and a group of science educators from the NESA (Near East South Asia) Virtual Science Fair, for their annual planning meeting and training session. This is a project funded by the U.S. State Department's Office of Overseas Schools, with Dr. Bea Cameron as the Regional Education Officer. The team also included two well-known science educators; Dr. Randy Spaid - Middle Georgia State University, and Dr. Eric Brunsell – University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Dr. Brunsell is an expert on Next Generation Science Standards and STEM, and is also a board member of NSTA.
The NVSF is in its 15th year, spanning schools from many of the umbrella organizations such as NESA, EARCOS, MAIS, CEESA, AISA, and more. Over those 15 years, they have had 30 international schools and over 14,000 students in grades 5-8 participate. They have published numerous articles on the NSTA Project in top science education journals, presented at NSTA several times, and also at the annual NSTA National Conference. The purpose of the NVSF is to allow students to shift from a traditional science fair, to a hybrid science fair which includes virtual projects via Moodle, and thus provides students an opportunity to use the power of e-learning. This capability enables students to enhance their science skills beyond the lab so that they can discuss their ideas and experiences, and work with students in other countries, as well as experts in the field of science from around the world. This program has become a successful project that crosses geopolitical borders in the world, and allows students to participate in scientific research and multi-cultural exchange simultaneously.
Each year the group holds their NVSF training session at a different international school, and this year we were fortunate to be part of it at CAISL. There were 13 teachers attending this year from various schools around the world including Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Greece, Germany, Qatar, Croatia, India, and the United States. The key focus for the project this year is to make a major shift toward adding a clear engineering design component to recognize this as an essential element of science education. The training at CAISL was outstanding, and the cadre of teachers accomplished a huge task. They will now call the project the "NVSEF" to add in the new engineering component. Each school involved will soon have their students in grades 5-8 jump into action to start their projects. We are pleased to share that the 6th grade students at CAISL will be taking part this year! This will be a major accomplishment for them which will guide their engineering design studies for the next few months.
By Annie Lopes, 6th Grade Math and Science Teacher