My NSTA Journey

Dear NSTA Colleagues,

I hope you have had a chance to read NSTA’s newest position statement: The Teaching of Climate Science. I draw your attention to it now, because it has been my great pleasure to be involved with the creation of it. And I’d like to encourage you to not only read this but also to explore the many ways NSTA works with and for science teachers. In case you missed the #NSTAchat on Sept. 13th that focused on the new position statement you can go back to #NSTAchat and review the discussion that occurred. 

NSTA membership provides many avenues for science educators to be involved whether through journals, Twitter, Facebook, conferences, The NSTA Learning Center, or writing position statements. Teaching experience is not a pre-requisite for involvement.

So, you may ask, how did I come to be involved with this important project? As is the case with so many of us, my NSTA story started with a very mild-mannered yet incredibly persuasive individual! I was a science teacher in Monroe, North Carolina, still trying to decide if I was going to stay in the classroom or seek work as a geologist, for which I had completed a BS and an MS.  Through the summer professional development classes that I had provided, I came to the attention of Gerry Madrazo, who was the science supervisor for Guilford County Schools in North Carolina. Gerry asked me to be part of the local arrangements committee for the first NSTA regional meeting in Charlotte, in 1992. Upon discovering that I was not yet a member, he shook my hand, put his other hand on my shoulder, and then whispered to me that it was time to make my contributions “legitimate” by actually joining NSTA.  At that point, I became dedicated to science education, with NSTA as a primary guide and resource.

Upon completing my PhD in Science Education in 1995, I was able to share through teaching methods courses not just the resources that NSTA had to offer, but also the sheer joy of excitement of participation in a group of like-minded educators.  Taking a group of these students to a regional meeting in Pittsburgh, I was pleased to learn of their experiences, marveling at two young preservice teachers, each carrying 4 shopping bags full of resources back to the bus!  Wow, that was something.

As my relationship with NSTA continued to grow, I was drawn to participate at a higher level.  I served on the Special Education Advisory Board, and eventually became the chairperson, making connections with educators whose drive and mission overlapped with NSTA’s. Working with Greg Stefanich and Mike Padilla, I experienced the intoxicating effects of presenting at NSTA meetings, seeking as many opportunities to present as I could. I encourage everyone to try presenting—it is an incredible adventure. If you’re not ready to take it on alone, remember that you can always present as a team with other teachers.  It is an experience not to be missed!

My path continued after becoming a presenter, when an experience as a member of the NSTA Preservice Teacher Preparation committee led me to seek election to the NSTA Board as chair of the committee.  Having served previously as a Regional Director, I was well aware of the demands of national service.  Upon serving on the Board, my commitment to science education in general and to NSTA in particular was strengthened. 

And in support of that commitment, my engagement with NSTA and its affiliates continues.  I was pleased to work with ASTE to revise the Science Teacher Program Recognition Standards around contemporary research and the Framework for K-12 Science Education, which were recently approved the NSTA Board of Directors.  And most recently, I worked with a stellar group of scientists and science educators to produce the NSTA Position Statement on the Teaching of Climate Science.  I consider this to be one of the most challenging and rewarding tasks that I was asked to participate in and lead, and this statement will continue to support NSTA’s leadership role in science education.

But is engagement with NSTA ever truly complete?  If there is an end-point, I surely don’t know how to find it!  With that in mind, I look forward to seeing old colleagues and making new professional friends at the upcoming regional meeting in Charlotte in December 2018 for which I have served on the Program Committee.  If you plan to be at this meeting, I would welcome the chance to chat and learn your story.  In fact, I might be able to point you in the right way on your own engagement with NSTA.  I’ll be presenting Saturday Morning, and will be introducing the featured session speaker on Friday, at 12:30 PM.  I also hope to have a special session on the new position statement on Teaching Climate Science. You can also find me on LinkedIn. Twitter, and on Facebook.   I truly believe that this will not be the last opportunity that I will have to support science education through NSTA, either as a servant-leader or in direct support of science teachers in other ways. And I’d love to help you find your own path with NSTA. Let me know how I can help.


Eric J. Pyle, PhD FGS

Professor, Department of Geology & Environmental Science

Coordinator, Science Teacher Preparation, College of Science & Mathematics

James Madison University

Harrisonburg, Virginia



Twitter:  @EricMgb

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