January 03, 2011

Professor creates STELLAR science club for teachers

Posted: January 03, 2011

Phoenix science educators have a new resource to aid them in their teaching. Science & Technology Exploration Leveraging Learning, Attitudes & Relevance, or STELLAR, is an educator’s science club created by Molina Walters, clinical associate professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at ASU.

Walters loved science as a child, and her passion led her to become a science teacher. She taught elementary school, middle school and high school students her beloved subject for 16 years before coming to ASU, where she now teaches future science teachers.

During the past year, Walters has spent many hours in local elementary school classrooms modeling science lessons for teachers, and their feedback gave her an idea.

“Many of the teachers expressed an interest in a club that would meet monthly and focus on a science theme, complete with a hands-on lesson and hands-on experience,” Walters said.

So, she created STELLAR.

The club is open to all educators – pre-service, in-service, homeschoolers, formal and informal educators as well as community science supporters. Members meet monthly at ASU’s Polytechnic campus in Mesa to share science lesson ideas and receive lesson resources, in addition to hands-on experience.

Beyond the classroom meetings, Walters said: “We also enjoy family science outings as I schedule group field trips that will take us out into the community where we can engage in hands-on, field-based science.”

Walters partners with many community science supporters who often share their expertise and resources. Supporters, such as SRP, the Center for Teacher Success, the Botanical Gardens, Boyce Thompson Arboretum, and UA Project Wet, partner with Walters to deliver science content based teaching ideas and community resources like books and posters to members. 

The club has met twice so far. Alison Smith, a community outreach representative from SRP, has attended both meetings. She is an active participant and will also facilitate resources and activities SRP provides for teachers to use in their classrooms when teaching about water, energy and the environment in upcoming club meetings.

Smith feels the club benefits teachers by offering not only ideas, but support as well.

“Sometimes teachers feel like lone rangers teaching science in their schools. It is important for them to see what quality science instruction looks like.”

Cheryl Vitale, a seventh grade science teacher at Mesquite Junior High in Gilbert, feels the club is an important organization for the science community.

“Our country needs more science professionals. The STELLAR science club is a fun and educational organization that helps educators share ideas to help improve science in our schools.”

Vitale already has plans to use an idea from one of the club meetings in her class. With the theme of Who Dunnit?, students will solve a mystery by completing an activity that involves finger printing.

Walters, whose love of science extends to her hobbies – hiking, kayaking, birding – is excited about the formation of the club and its topic. “I love science and spell it F.U.N!”

Interested individuals can contact Walters through email at drmo@asu.edu and a membership form will be emailed to them. Club dues are $15 a semester, $25 for the full year. The next club meeting will be held in late January at ASU’s Polytechnic campus.

Written by Tana Ingram

Media Contact(s):
Christine Lambrakis, 480/727-1173, 602/316-5616, lambrakis@asu.edu