May 2016 – Vol. 28 No. 9

San Diego Early Implementers Take the Lead in Strengthening Support for Science in Their District LCAP

by Jill Grace

For the past couple weeks, the *Core Leadership Team and Teacher Leaders of the CA NGSS (K-8) Early Implementation Initiative in San Diego have rallied together to positively impact San Diego Unified School District’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) to increase support for science in their district. With State Board of Education President, Mike Kirst and Member, Trish Williams call to start implementing NGSS in this recent Ed Source article, I thought it prudent to share with you the grassroots work this team is doing to support those of you who are also raising up your voices as a stakeholder group in your district plan. Learn More…

Hands-On Performance Assessment – An Effective Formative Assessment Strategy

by Deborah Tucker and Grant Gardner

Are you looking for ways to assess 3D learning? Tools that assess the NGSS practices? Have you considered hands-on performance assessment? Do you know that California once implemented hands-on tasks in statewide testing?

We Were Ahead of Our Time
You may remember the year (and some of you may have been in elementary school at the time) when California administered hands-on performance tasks during the mid-1990’s as part of the state-wide spring testing program called CLAS. Every 5th grade, 8th grade, and 10th grade student in California conducted hands-on investigations along with selected-response and constructed-response items.

Students’ conceptual knowledge and mastery of science practices were assessed. Then, we used the term “science process skills” from the 1990 California Framework. We also used the term “theme” (also from the 1990 CA Framework) to indicate crosscutting concepts. Learn More…

Practical Tools to Begin Implementing the NGSS in a First Grade Classroom

by Crystal Howe, Nicole Hawke, and William Straits:

Across the state, during the summer of 2016, hundreds of teachers of NGSS “Early Implementers” schools participated in professional development institutes designed to help teachers better understand NGSS and science pedagogy. During a week-long summer institute, we worked with 1st grade teachers to explore sound and light waves, while highlighting practical tools to help implement NGSS in classrooms. These tools included a KLEWS chart (Hershberger & Zembal-Saul, 2015) to focus science learning, a field trip structured to create opportunities for students to share their science thinking, and the Engineering Design Cycle from Appendix I of NGSS. Learn More…

At May 2016 Meeting State Board of Education Responds to Advocacy Efforts Around NGSS

by Jessica Sawko

The May 11-12 meeting of the California State Board of Education (SBE) addressed three items of great interest to science educators and others who are committed to the successful implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards. (CA-NGSS). The items included the selection of key indicators to be incorporated into the new accountability system under development (Item 2), revisions to the LCAP template (Item 3), and approval of the California Department of Education’s (CDE) plan to apply for a waiver from the federal government to no longer administer the science CST/CMA/CAPA beyond the spring 2016 administration (Item 8). The State Board took action on the first and last of these three items, leaving edits to the LCAP template to be worked on for action at a future meeting. Learn More…

Patterns of Survival

by Joey Noelle Lehnhard

To develop a scientific understanding of the natural world, students need lots of time to observe that world and notice patterns. In fact, the Next Generation Science Standards tell us, “noticing patterns is often a first step to organizing phenomena and asking scientific questions about why and how the patterns occur.” This may be different from the way we’ve guided student observations in the past. Before, we might ask for detailed sentences about color, size, and shape. We might have encouraged students to add an illustration and stopped there. However, focusing students on pattern identification can foster authentic engagement with a phenomenon and can lead to opportunities for deeper meaning making. Learn More…

New “EiE Video Snippets” Let You Peek Inside the Engineering Classroom

posted by Cynthia Berger

Reprinted with permission from

Engineering is Elementary is pleased to announce a new set of online resources for K–12 engineering educators: EiE Video Snippets. This collection of short videos can be used in three ways:

Learn More…

Systems Thinking Skills in the Engineering Classroom

by Cynthia Berger

Reprinted with permission from

The students in Jean Facchiano’s fourth-grade class have spent the morning engineering their own models of permeable membranes, using ordinary kitchen supplies like sponges, coffee filters, and perforated aluminum foil. The goal is to design a system that lets water drip into a frog habitat, keeping the container slightly damp, not dry or flooded.

Berger1.1Each group of students has come up with their own unique system for controlling water flow into the habitat. Now, in the video at right, the students present their results. It’s not just a show-and-tell; it’s a concise demonstration of elementary students starting to apply their systems-thinking skills. Learn More…

Science Teachers – In What Ways Have You Partnered with Your School Librarian?

by Laura Henriques

Early this spring the California School Library Association, CSLA,  hosted their annual conference. They invited subject area professional organizations to attend the meeting and do a presentation. I was there to represent CSTA and do a workshop. Since then I have had a few conversations with Dr. Lesley Farmer, a colleague of mine at CSULB and former President of the California School Library Foundation, CSLA’s Vice President and editor of CSLA’s journal, about ways to that our members might be able to collaborate and learn with and from each other. School librarians and media specialists can be powerful partners and help us find good resources. Learn More…

Book Review: The Not-So-Intelligent Designer, by Abby Hafer

by Glenn Branch

As the title of The Not-So-Intelligent Designer suggests, Abby Hafer is ready to take intelligent design seriously. A zoologist who teaches human anatomy and physiology at Curry College, she invokes her specialty to argue that intelligent design is refuted by the quirks and kinks, the makeshift solutions and haywire failures, of human biology. Along the way, she offers a spirited assault on the promoters of intelligent design, accusing them of purveying uncertainty and doubt about evolution, peddling religion disguised as science, and engaging in propaganda reminiscent of the tobacco industry. Learn More…

Celestial Highlights for May and June 2016

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Planet rising and setting graphs by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Make necessary preparations to safely observe the transit of Mercury across the Sun on May 9. Jupiter is brightest “star” in evening sky this spring until Mars offers serious competition in late May, as the Red Planet presents its brightest and closest approach since 2005. Mars-Saturn-Antares triangle expands in size and rises earlier in evening as weeks pass. Moon-Jupiter pair up on May 14, and a “Blue Moon” and Red Mars at its brightest, team up on May 21. Provide your students chances in May and June to get close-up telescopic views of all three bright outer planets! Learn More…

Looking for the Perfect Graduation Gift for the Future Teachers in Your Life?

by Laura Henriques

Have we got a deal for you!


The strains of Pomp & Circumstances are starting to fill the air. Graduation is the most special day of the school year. We celebrate accomplishments and honor excellence. Your students are getting ready to move to the next grade or level. Seniors are getting fitted for caps and gowns and are thinking about their moves into careers and college.

Did you have a student teacher or student aide this year? If you are looking for a graduation gift or a thank you gift, we have a perfect idea. Give them a membership in CSTA! As a new teacher, the cost of membership is a reasonable $50 for two years of membership! Learn More…

Raising the Prestige of Teaching STEM

by Lisa Hegdahl

What makes a career prestigious?  Is it the power it wields? The number of people it impacts? The required number years of training? The amount of the monthly paycheck? According to, prestige is defined as:

“…reputation or influence arising from success, achievement, rank, or other favorable attributes.”

Space Shuttle Independence Houston Space Center Photo by Lisa Hegdahl

Space Shuttle Independence
Houston Space Center Photo by Lisa Hegdahl

At the Houston Space Center, control site for 17 Apollo missions, 275 representatives gathered for the 5th Annual 100Kin10 Partner Summit to explore the question of how to continue to go above and beyond in taking on the grand challenges of training and retaining great STEM teachers.   One of those challenges is identified as –  “teaching lacks prestige and is not widely perceived as a top career choice for STEM graduates”.  Small group sessions allowed partners to examine the issue from a variety of perspectives and experiences.

What is 100Kin10?

In his 2011 State of the Union Address, President Obama “announced a national goal to prepare 100,000 new teachers in science, technology, engineering, and math over the next decade.” Learn More…


CSTA’s Sacramento Area After School Special

Join CSTA President Lisa Hegdahl at the Sacramento County Office of Education for a free event for CSTA members ($10 for nonmembers) on Thursday, May 26, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm. This after school networking and educational event was designed by the CSTA membership committee to increase opportunities for CSTA members to connect locally. If successful, CSTA will look to replicate this type of after school event in other areas across the state. Space is limited, so please RSVP to Lisa via email:  Learn More…

Region 2 – Bay Area!

by Minda Berbeco

Hey Bay Area Science Teachers,

Spring has officially sprung! It’s an exciting time to get your students out, as things heat up outside and students get anxious to spread their wings and fly the coop. What are you doing to keep your students engaged? Any field trips in the works? We at CSTA love to hear about all the different things you are up to – so send me an e-mail and I’ll be sure to share your ideas with others in our community. Here are some not-to-be missed science events going on this May! Learn More…

11th GCSN Conference for STEM Education

by Shawna Metcalf

Looking for ready-to-use lessons, materials, or ideas for teaching science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)? Or maybe you are looking for a reason to meet other local science teachers and representatives from STEM organizations. You are in luck. On Saturday, February 27, 2016 the Gold Coast Science Network (GCSN) will be holding the 11th GCSN Conference for STEM Education in Oxnard, CA. This one day event will feature two keynote speakers and four breakout sessions. Participants will have over 30 workshops on a variety of STEM topics from which to choose. Learn More…

Registration Now Open for NGSS Rollout #3 Fall Series

Registration for the NGSS Rollout #3 events scheduled for this fall is now available online! Register early for what is sure to be sell-out events this fall.

Alameda County Symposium: September 7-8, 2016
Location: California State University, East Bay (New University Union)
25800 Carlos Bee Blvd.
Hayward, CA 94542

Fresno County Symposium: October 13-14, 2016
Location: Raddison Hotel
1055 Van Ness Avenue
Fresno, CA 93721

Santa Clara County Symposium: November 7-8, 2016
Location: Santa Clara County Office of Education
1290 Ridder Park Drive
San Jose, CA 95131

San Diego County Symposium: November 15-16, 2016
Location: Marina Village Conference Center
1936 Quivira Way
San Diego, CA 92109

Far North Symposium: November 29-30, 2016
Location: Tehama Department of Education
1135 Lincoln Street
Red Bluff, CA 96080

Ventura County Symposium: December 12-13, 2016
Location: Ventura County Office of Education and Educational Services Center
5100 Adolfo Road
Camarillo, CA 93012

Stanford University – MOOCs Supporting Innovative Assessment Practices

Starting this fall, 2016, Stanford University is pleased to offer a set of free online courses (MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses) to help your state and local educators use innovative assessment practices – instructionally-focused formative assessment and curriculum-embedded performance assessments for deeper learning, with a focus on language that will support English Learners. The new forms of innovative assessments are rich with language and often require different forms of argumentation and justification to support student understanding and engagement with content. In these assessments that are embedded in instruction and the curriculum, the inclusion of academic language is integrated by design, connecting language to content and critical thinking. Information on the MOOCs are detailed below.  Learn More…

Upcoming Events

1:00 am Cafe Inquiry @ Cafe Borrone
Cafe Inquiry @ Cafe Borrone
Jun 2 @ 1:00 am – 3:00 am
Meet up with rationalists, skeptics, and freethinkers south of San Francisco.  Cafe Inquiry is a social event hosted by the Center for Inquiry. We’ll meet at Café Borrone between Kepler’s Books and the British Banker’s[...]
7:00 pm The East Bay Science Cafe @ Cafe Valparaiso
The East Bay Science Cafe @ Cafe Valparaiso
Jun 1 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Held the first Wednesday of every month in the Cafe Valparaiso on Solano Avenue in Albany from 7 to 9pm. 1403 Solano Ave., Albany, California 94706. The East Bay Science Cafe is an informal forum[...]
8:00 am Floodplain and Delta Ecology Ins... @ Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta
Floodplain and Delta Ecology Ins... @ Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta
Jun 9 @ 8:00 am – Jun 11 @ 4:00 pm
DELTA REGION EDUCATORS! The Floodplain and Delta Ecology Institute brings together the curricula of Education & the Environment Initiative, Delta Studies and Project WET to create meaningful activities for the classroom and interesting content learning[...]
8:00 am Central Valley Floodplain Ecolog... @ Fresno
Central Valley Floodplain Ecolog... @ Fresno
Jun 13 @ 8:00 am – Jun 17 @ 4:00 pm
SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY EDUCATORS!  Join the Central Valley Science Projects, CSU-Fresno, FCOE, CREEC and SAM Academy for this Institute as they host this exploration of the waterways that nourish the San Joaquin Valley. The Delta,[...]
3:30 pm NGSS Webinars from LACOE @ Online
NGSS Webinars from LACOE @ Online
Jun 15 @ 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Event Dates: Sep 23, 2015 | Dec 10, 2015 | Feb 17, 2016 | Apr 20, 2016 | Jun 15, 2016 These free 1-hour webinars will provide you the opportunity to gain information and updates[...]
8:00 am Sacramento Floodplain Ecology In...
Sacramento Floodplain Ecology In...
Jun 20 @ 8:00 am – Jun 22 @ 4:00 pm
LOWER SACRAMENTO VALLEY 6- 12 EDUCATORS! Join us for this FREE professional development externship in applied science, research, STEM careers and environmental science curriculum. The institute will include field trips to regional floodplains to learn[...]
all-day University of New Hampshire Proj... @ University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH
University of New Hampshire Proj... @ University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH
Jun 26 – Jul 22 all-day
University of New Hampshire Project SMART for High School Students @ University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH | Durham | New Hampshire | United States
Project SMART is a UNH outreach program for high school students considering a career in science.  SMART is a residential program where students live on campus for 4 weeks and participate in 1 of 3[...]
9:00 am Summer Teacher Workshops 2016: P...
Summer Teacher Workshops 2016: P...
Jul 6 @ 9:00 am – Jul 8 @ 4:00 pm
MONTEREY BAY EDUCATORS! This summer the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History and the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District are partnering on a three-day workshop that incorporates Project WET, Project WILD and Project Learning Tree[...]
7:00 pm The East Bay Science Cafe @ Cafe Valparaiso
The East Bay Science Cafe @ Cafe Valparaiso
Jul 6 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Held the first Wednesday of every month in the Cafe Valparaiso on Solano Avenue in Albany from 7 to 9pm. 1403 Solano Ave., Albany, California 94706. The East Bay Science Cafe is an informal forum[...]
1:00 am Cafe Inquiry @ Cafe Borrone
Cafe Inquiry @ Cafe Borrone
Jul 7 @ 1:00 am – 3:00 am
Meet up with rationalists, skeptics, and freethinkers south of San Francisco.  Cafe Inquiry is a social event hosted by the Center for Inquiry. We’ll meet at Café Borrone between Kepler’s Books and the British Banker’s[...]

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