November/December 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 2

Priority Features of NGSS-Aligned Instructional Materials

Recommendations for Publishers, Reviewers, and Educators. The California Science Teachers Association and the science teachers associations of three other Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) west-coast states, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, have co-authored a white paper on priority features of NGSS instructional materials. This is the first time our states have collaborated to convey a common vision on an issue of great importance for the implementation of the NGSS. We understand all too well that for meaningful shifts to happen and to support the full vision of the NGSS, strong K-12 Instructional materials are required. Learn More…

State Board Moves Forward Two Key Pieces Supporting CA NGSS Implementation

by Jessica Sawko

CSTA President Jill Grace provides public comment at the November 8, 2017, California State Board of Education meeting.

On November 8, 2017, the California State Board of Education (SBE) took action on two items of import relating to the implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS). One item was relating to the California Science Test (CAST) and the other to instructional materials. CSTA provided both written and oral comments on both items along with providing input on what CSTA and many other advocates view as a critical component of our state’s emerging accountability system – student access to a broad course of study. Learn More…

California Environmental Education Foundation Presents the 2016-2017 Excellence in Environmental Education Awards

Will Parish (Ten Strands President) and Anne Stephens (CEEF Board member) presented the CEEF Excellence in EE Award to Rob Wade at the State Science Communities of Practice meeting in Rancho Cordova.

Will Parish (Ten Strands President) and Anne Stephens (CEEF Board member) presented the CEEF Excellence in EE Award to Rob Wade at the State Science Communities of Practice meeting in Rancho Cordova.

by Anne Stephens

The California Environmental Education Foundation presented this past year’s Excellence in Environmental Education Award to Rob Wade, Science and Outdoor Education Coordinator for the Plumas County Office of Education, and to the UC Berkeley Lawrence Hall of Science’s Better Environmental Education, Teaching, Learning and Expertise Sharing (BEETLES) Team. Learn More…

CSTA Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

Updated 7:25 pm, Nov. 17, 2017

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. Learn More…

Give Twice This Holiday Season!


There’s another way you can support CSTA, though, and it will cost you nothing! CSTA is one of Amazon’s Smile‘s partners. This means you can set up your Amazon account so that Amazon makes a small donation to CSTA each time you purchase eligible products (we get 0.5% of the eligible sales). The products you purchase cost the same but Amazon makes a donation to CSTA. You are not eligible for a tax deduction for these donations, but you aren’t paying for them either. Learn More…

Expanding Your Definition of Informal Science Education

by Lori Walsh

When deciding on a field trip, zoos, aquariums and science centers typically come to mind. These facilities offer students hands-on opportunities to make science observations using inquiry. Teachers can schedule standards aligned workshops or self-guided visits. If your students have already visited these facilities, you can broaden your options by exploring the larger world of Informal Science Education. Nature centers, non-profits, and environmental groups often also offer NGSS aligned programs in the natural setting. Your students can discover the local environment while making memorable experiences. Learn More…

Reaching Beyond the Museum’s Walls: Virtual Programs

by Clea Matson

“My students were actively engaged in the discussions. They enjoyed participating in the “scientist” portion with the hand movements….thinking, how we live in our world, etc. Being able to see themselves on the webcam was a bonus. They also enjoyed seeing a real live person.”

-3rd Grade, Redwood City, CA

What are Virtual Programs?

The California Academy of Sciences’ Virtual Programs are opportunities for an entire class to leave the school “virtually” for 30 minutes to an hour. With no travel time or permission slips, the class can visit a small part of the Academy, embarking with a live educator on a student-led exploration of the rainforest, our solar system, or an African penguin colony–to name a few possible destinations. Learn More…

CSTA Conference Opening Keynote: California’s Champions by Terry Tamminen

Terry Tamminen, CEO, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation

On October 13-15, 2017, CSTA hosted the annual California Science Education Conference in Sacramento. The CSTA conference is well-known by science educators as the place to make connections, generate new ideas, energize their teaching, and learn, and grow as professionals.

CSTA was pleased to have Terry Tammnien, CEO of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, give the opening keynote address at this year’s conference. Over 1,000 people in attendance had the opportunity to hear Mr. Tammnien speak about climate change, environmental literacy, NGSS, and much more.

If you missed this incredible presentation, don’t worry. Ten Strands has published an article written by Terry Tamminen featuring his remarks from his presentation. Click here to view the full article.

Keeping the Inspiration Flowing

by Jill Grace

As I walk the floor of the conference, eyes still a bit blurry from lack of sleep and head fuzzy from reviewing speeches and message triangles, I pause. Looking around, I am aware of a sea of smiles, laughter, and very animated story-telling. Feelings of excitement are palpable. A conference hasn’t felt this exciting to me since I attended my first one when I was, as a friend would say, a “baby educator.”

Something in the air has changed.

I would like to think that it was all because of our wonderful CSTA staff who, along with the volunteer board and conference committee, planned a great conference. We’ve worked really hard on it the past couple years. A new vision for workshop times to accommodate deeper learning, requiring more of workshop and short course proposals to help us decipher quality, thoughtfully choosing speakers and partners to help bring a rich experience for participants. But there was something in addition to this that made this year’s conference feel different than in the past; the stage has finally been set for quality educator professional learning. A trifecta of planning on CSTA’s part, more educators from across the state ready to start shifting instruction, and a large group of pioneering educators ready to share have allowed for some sort of a learning, inspiration, and connecting sweet spot. Learn More…

NGSS – Early Attempts and Later Reflections from an Early Implementer Teacher

by Christa Dunkel

  • There are so many acronyms! Where do I start?
  • What “baby step” should I take first? 
  • How can I make this happen in my elementary classroom?

All of these thoughts and more swam through my head over three years ago when I began my journey into NGSS. I was fresh from a week-long institute with the K-12 Alliance as part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. Much of the week was spent on digging into the NGSS architecture – how the standards are set-up, how to read the standards, what each of the three dimensions meant. Now that I knew how to read them, I needed to figure out how to implement them into my classroom of 24 eight-year-olds. With some guidance from the K-12 Alliance leaders and my own district-level NGSS team, I began the process with some easy “baby steps.” Learn More…

So Many Questions

by Debbie Gordon

Whenever I think about teaching science in my second-grade classroom, I think about how curious my students are. And all the questions they ask. My favorite astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, has said, “There is always a place I can take someone’s curiosity and land where they end up enlightened when we’re done. That’s my challenge as an educator. No one is dumb who is curious. The people who don’t ask questions remain clueless throughout their lives.” Learn More…

Celestial Highlights, November 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times for School Year 2017-18 by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

November 2017 features twilight planetary treats, both morning and evening. To get the best views, binoculars are recommendedVenus and Jupiter will appear close together low in the ESE morning twilight glow for a few mornings around Nov. 13, about 40-45 minutes before sunrise. In the latter half of month, Saturn and Mercury will appear close together low in the SW evening twilight glow 40-45 minutes after sunset. Learn More…

Upcoming Events

8:30 am Understanding California’s High ... @ UCR Extension
Understanding California’s High ... @ UCR Extension
Mar 23 @ 8:30 am – 3:00 pm
Spend the first day with the writers of the California Science Framework High School chapters and experience a coherent NGSS-aligned Earth and Space Sciences Integrated learning sequence. This 2-day workshop includes a facilitated discussion of[...]
all-day CAST (Science Assessment) Academy @ Sacramento
CAST (Science Assessment) Academy @ Sacramento
Apr 23 all-day
Save the Date! Hosted by CDE. Information and registration to follow.
all-day CAST (Science Assessment) Academy @ Fresno
CAST (Science Assessment) Academy @ Fresno
Apr 25 all-day
Save the Date! Hosted by CDE. Information and registration to follow.
all-day CAST (Science Assessment) Academy @ Irvine
CAST (Science Assessment) Academy @ Irvine
Apr 26 all-day
Save the Date! Hosted by CDE. Information and registration to follow.

Top Posts & Pages

Archived Issues

What About Pre-K and TK?

Photo by Shannon Brown (photo waiver signed and face isn’t visible)

Photo by Shannon Brown
(photo waiver signed and face isn’t visible)

by Peter A’Hearn

Tiny Kids are natural explorers, conducting experiments, making observations, looking for patterns. So what better time to teach science? The problem is there are no NGSS standards for Pre-K or Transitional Kindergarten (TK). There is a well-written chapter in the California Science Framework that links the NGSS shifts to developmentally appropriate learning in TK. You will also find tables of connections between the California Preschool Learning Foundations (which pre-date NGSS adoption) and the SEPs and CA NGSS Science Domains. With schools in California now offering Transitional Kindergarten to prepare kids for Kindergarten, there is a need for some guidance on what science to teach, but the NGSS don’t provide it. Many TK teachers end up teaching the Kindergarten NGSS with the idea that at a young age repetition is helpful. But we don’t think about any of the other NGSS in this way- that repeating the same learning two years in a row is a good idea. Instead, the standards loop back to the same ideas in a more sophisticated form every two or three years. So I got to thinking, what would a Pre-Kindergarten NGSS look like? Learn More…

Going Green: Striving to Reduce Waste at a Middle School

by Jessica Hunt

Community-based Social Marketing (CBSM) is the current trend in influencing the public to make more eco-friendly choices. Marketing strategies of the past focused solely on dissemination of information while CBSM focuses on removing barriers that make the desired outcome difficult to achieve. This paper details the construction of a CBSM plan to reduce waste sent to the landfill at a public middle school in California. Strategies employed in this CBSM include making the desired action more convenient, prompting, and social diffusion. Strategies for designing your own CBSM plan are also discussed. Learn More…