by Peter A’Hearn
The idea that structure relates to function is pretty abstract for 1st graders. To get them thinking about structure and function in living things we started by having them draw a picture of what they thought a fish looks like. I have found that people have preconceived, cartoon versions of what things look like in their heads that can interfere with their ability to make objective observations of the real thing; it is helpful to give them a chance to draw that cartoon before having them observe the real thing and compare it to their drawing. (See How People Learn  for more about prior knowledge and also more about fish). Learn More…
by Lisa Hegdahl
Is it really 2015 already? Where did the time go? It seems like only yesterday I was planning my trip to the Long Beach NSTA Conference, in collaboration with CSTA, and just like that, it is over. But not so fast – when one conference ends, the planning for another begins. Arrangements for the 2015 California Science Education Conference in Sacramento are well underway. If you came away from the Long Beach conference with something incredible, consider how you can pay that forward by being an inspiration to someone else next year. Learn More…
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 is a time and energy commitment, 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. Learn More…
by Rick Pomeroy
The winter break is over, your first and possibly only semester of student teaching is drawing to a close, and you are beginning to think about that big elephant in the room. Will there be a job at the end of all this work? If the number of phone calls I have received in the past week is any indication of the need for science teachers, the answer is “Yes, Virginia, there will be jobs.”
As you move forward into the spring, thoughts will logically turn to the job search and all of the questions, and decisions that you will be making about your future. Every year I coach my students through this phase of the process with some simple, and seemingly successful, advice.
First – remember that every day is a job interview. The teaching community is extensive but ultimately everybody knows somebody, and you never know when that somebody is looking for a science teacher. Learn More…
by Jennifer McGranahan
In the midst of all that is new this year – implementing Common Core for Language Arts and Mathematics, the new ELA/ELD Framework and our district’s Personalized Learning Plans – we are also hearing more about the Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS). As a 6th grade classroom teacher, when I heard the acronym “NGSS,” I quickly put it out of my mind. My brain couldn’t face one more new expectation. However, I had majored in biology in college and had decided I wanted to focus on improving my teaching in science, and NGSS kept creeping back into my thoughts no matter how hard I tried to ignore it. Before I knew it, I was part of a team of teachers in my district selected to be part of the California K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. With the honor of being an Early Implementer came trainings during the summer and regular school year, and hours crafting and planning “beautiful” NGSS lessons that include 3-dimensional learning that I am not familiar with. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Actually, it is!! Learn More…
by Valerie Joyner
As early childhood science educators, we are beginning to explore and gain understanding about the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). We know that NGSS will require us to teach science through three dimensions: practices, disciplinary core ideas (i.e. content), and crosscutting concepts. In the past our main emphasis was teaching science through one or sometimes two dimensions with lessons focused on conveying factual content of physical, life, and earth/space sciences, with perhaps some practices added in (formerly known as science process skills). However, three-dimensional learning requires us to take an entirely new approach to science education, one that deliberately teaches with all dimensions.
This article will be the first in a series exploring crosscutting concepts and offering some ideas for applications in the primary grades. Crosscutting concepts “provide students with connections and intellectual tools that are related across the different areas of disciplinary content and can enrich the application of practices and their understanding of core ideas (NRC, 2012, pg. 233)”. In other words, these fundamental conceptual tools are necessary for students to learn effectively, and must be specifically nurtured and referenced throughout all grade levels in all disciplines. Learn More…
updated January 8, 2015, 11:30 am
by Robert C. Victor
twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller
Mercury snuggles up to Venus on Jan. 10, and then backs off. Mars closes in on Venus for next 6 weeks until Feb. 21. Jupiter rises ever earlier in evening, until, starting in late January, Venus-Jupiter can be viewed simultaneously, but low above opposite horizons. Consider an early evening skywatch for the gathering of Mercury, Venus, and Mars, and a predawn skywatch for Jupiter and Saturn!
The Sky Calendar features illustrations of this month’s attractive gatherings of Moon, planets, and stars.
by Mary Whaley, Joey Lehnhard and Beth Callaghan
From durable goods like eyeglasses and vehicle parts to single-use items like straws and water bottles, plastic is ubiquitous in our modern world. Plastic is lightweight, long-lasting and relatively economical to manufacture. It has revolutionized the way we live from medical use to manufacturing. But, how wisely are we using these durable, versatile materials produced from fossil fuels – a nonrenewable resource?
Plastic is important in our modern world. However, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, only about 9 percent of the estimated 32 million tons of plastic waste the U.S. generated in 2012 was recovered for recycling.  Much of the waste is single-use disposable items that end up causing numerous problems in our environment. For example, six of the top 10 items collected in the 2013 International Coastal Clean-up Day were single-use plastic.  Learn More…
by Laura Henriques
I heard a story on the radio about New Year’s Resolutions. It seems that about 44% of people make resolutions each year with 42% of them self-reporting that they’ve kept the resolution all year. That means about 18% of us make and keep a resolution each year. While the success rate isn’t all that high, the researcher being interviewed seemed to think that action of making a resolution is still a good thing. It helps us be intentional about our goals and actions, or at least our intended goals and actions! She seemed to think that simply stating your resolution and trying to keep it helped us move in our desired direction.
With that in mind, what is your professional resolution for 2015? Will you read an article related to teaching science each month? Support a colleague? Be a Master Teacher for a student teacher? Serve on a committee at school or the district? Share your expertise with others by presenting a workshop at the CSTA conference in Sacramento or writing an article for California Classroom Science (CCS)? Get better connected to other science education professionals? Try something new to help you transition to NGSS? Apply to serve on the CSTA Board of Directors?
Whatever your science education resolution is for 2015, CSTA can help. Learn More…
Make your tax-deductible donation to the 50th Anniversary Fund today!
Super-cool Science Parties and lectures:
Nerd Nite East Bay, Last Monday of the month
Nerd Nite San Francisco, Third Wednesday of the month
Night Life, Thursdays, 6-10 pm, at the California Academy of Sciences
After Dark, First Thursday of the month, 6-10 pm, at the Exploratorium
Café Inquiry, First Thursday of the month, 6pm, at Café Borrone, Menlo Park
Highlighted Events in January:
Bird Walk Hike at Lake Merritt in Oakland
Saturday, 01/10/15 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Lindsay Wildlife Museum
January is the perfect time to observe wintering waterfowl. Join the Lindsay Wildlife Museum for a morning of birding with experienced birdwatchers from the Mt Diablo Audubon Society. Bring your binoculars and learn how to tell the difference between a tern and a gull. Bird walk hike will be at Oakland’s Lake Merritt. Map and directions will be sent after registration is completed. To register online: http://wildlife-museum.org/cart/registration/4108
Top Posts & Pages
The NGSS Evidence Statements for High School are now available (evidence statements for elementary and middle school are under development). These statements were developed by educators and scientists, including many members of the NGSS writing team. The evidence statements are intended to identify clear, measurable components that, if met, fully satisfy each performance expectation (PE) described within the NGSS. Learn More…
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson outlined his ambitious “Agenda for Excellence” for the next four years today in Sacramento as he was sworn in for his second term as chief of California’s public school system and leader of the California Department of Education.
“During my first term, we have begun transforming education in California by providing a world-class education for all students from early childhood to adulthood,” said Torlakson. “But more work needs to be done. For my second term, I want to transform our system to one known far and wide for its excellence.” Learn More…