Gregg Kastanis, a science teacher at John Jay Middle School, is the 2017 recipient of the Science Teachers Association of New York State (STANYS) Excellence in Teaching Award – Intermediate Level. This award will be presented at the Annual Convention in Rochester, New York, in November 2017.
Kastanis teaches Science 7, which in the KLSD is Life Science, and is the middle school science department instructional leader. He leads his colleagues in the implementation of the New York State Science Learning Standards (NYSSLS) that were adopted in December 2016. The standards are split into three dimensions: Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts. John Jay Middle School is focusing on Science and Engineering Practices this year.
Kastanis begins each unit with a hands-on engaging lesson designed to pique interest, motivate, and make students think. His goal is to create an authentic learning environment.
As the year progresses, rather than running typical labs in which students are given materials and follow a procedure to complete an assigned lab, he encourages students to plan and carry out an investigation of their own design to answer a question.
“Last year, students helped design an experiment to determine the effects of the environment on goldfish,” said Kastanis.