January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Water Drop at 2000 Frames per Second

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

From Discovery Channel’s series Time Warp where MIT scientist and teacher Jeff Lieberman and digital-imaging expert Matt Kearney use the latest in high-speed photography to turn never-before-seen wonders into an experience of beauty and learning.

Science Safety Tip #3

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

by Dean Gilbert

The use of live animals as part of K-12 science instruction can offer multiple opportunities for students to engage and refine their observation skills as well as instill a general respect of and humane treatment for all life.  Here are some helpful safety tips to think about:

  • Any handling of animals by students must be carefully supervised; parent permission slips should be kept on file.
  • Never mishandle or mistreat animals.
  • A safety lesson should be given to teach students how to care for and treat classroom animals
  • Animals caught in the wild should never be brought into the classroom
  • After handling animals, students must wash their hands with soap.
  • Reptiles are possible carriers of Salmonella; check guidelines for classroom suitability.
  • Be aware of animals students might encounter while on a field trip
  • At no time should dissection be done on an animal corpse unless it was specifically purchased from a reliable supplier.
  • Never keep animals preserved in formaldehyde in your classroom or school.
  • Students planning science fair research projects involving vertebrate animals must adhere to the California Education Code requirements for experiments with animals:


Elementary Science: What Is It? Part II

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Tim Williamson

This is the second in a series of columns related to the necessity for the teaching of science in the elementary school.

The elementary grades are a perfect place to build on a child’s natural curiosity about the world they experience.  By instructing these students in “hands-on minds-on” science instruction, teachers can stimulate this curiosity which in turn allows the students to think about and understand the world around them.  This innate and wonderful curiosity soon disappears if science is omitted from elementary classroom instruction. (more…)

Governor Blue Pencils Science Framework

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Last month we reported that the legislative version of the 2010-2011 budget bill included $144K for the completion of the science and history-social science frameworks.  True to form, Governor Schwarzenegger “blue penciled”—or eliminated—this line item.  He reduced the amount by $1,000—yes, that’s a one and three zeros—and allocated it to implementation of the common core standards.  Here’s his exact quote: “Instead, it is my intent that the remaining $143,000 be used for higher priority activities [emphasis added] related to the California Common Core Standards, as directed by the State Board of Education.”  So, guess we know where science stands in the governor’s view of the world, notwithstanding educators’, the public’s, and the business community’s cries for more emphasis on science in school.  Link to governor’s budget messages.

2010 Conference Offered a Bounty of Education and Fun

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

“This year’s workshops were ALL excellent!”

“Good things to use in class on Monday.”

“CSTA is an AWESOME conference—this resource for teachers must continue!”

These are just a few of the comments received from the evaluation forms filled out by attendees to this year’s CSTA conference.  Over 1,300 science educators convened in Sacramento this past October 22-24.  The rain that dropped from the skies over the weekend did little to dampen the positive vibes, the golden learning opportunities, and the enthusiasm that was building throughout the entire weekend. (more…)

Academic Language in Science Teaching

Monday, November 1st, 2010

by Donna Ross

Most preservice teachers in California are preparing to teach in diverse communities.  And, perhaps more immediately on your minds, is your preparation to complete one of the high-stakes assessments (PACT, TPA) demonstrating your understanding of pedagogy, with an emphasis on meeting the needs of learners from diverse backgrounds.  A critical component of meeting the needs of all learners is recognizing the academic language demands in the science classroom and implementing strategies to support learners.  There was a time when science teachers whined, “But I’m not the English teacher!”

Fortunately, we have moved beyond that mindset.  Our job is to provide comprehensible instruction in science.  To do that, we must recognize the demands we place on the learners and ensure their skills allow them to make sense of the content. (more…)

New Report Recommends More STEM After School

Monday, November 1st, 2010

by Mary-Ellen Phelps Deily, Education Week

After-school initiatives figure prominently in a new report on STEM education from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

The Obama administration is pressing for more attention to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) initiatives in and out of school. The report, unveiled by President Obama at the White House last month, calls for a variety of new federal steps. These include establishing a national STEM Master Teacher Corps that recognizes and rewards strong teachers; supporting the creation of 1,000 new STEM-focused schools over the next decade; and launching a coordinated initiative to support a wide range of STEM-based after-school and extended-day activities, Erik Robelen reports in the September 21 issue of Education Week. (more…)

How Do You Spell Success?

Monday, November 1st, 2010

by Heather A. Marshall

This year I started teaching at a new school in Morgan Hill.  Our school has a great culture of RESPECT as our overriding principle.  Students remove their hats and hoodies and turn off their cell phones and iPods as they walk into a classroom.  Administrators and teachers work together to cultivate the idea of respect as a standard for any classroom.  Respect is modeled by the administration to the teachers and by the teachers to the students, so that students see this culture everywhere.  If a student momentarily forgets, a teacher can remind him or her simply that this is a matter of respect, and the student typically quickly corrects the issue. (more…)

A Year in the Life of Two First Year Teachers: Part Three

Monday, November 1st, 2010

by Rick Pomeroy, with Sara and Ellen

Now that the school year is well underway, I thought it would be interesting to hear from Sara and Ellen about their experiences with their induction programs (BTSA).  If you are a BTSA provider or mentor, please consider sending some comments to Sara and Ellen at saraandellen@gmail.com.

Rick: Sara and Ellen, California credentialing regulations require that to earn a clear credential, you must participate in a two-year induction program. Most school districts offer this through BTSA. Have you had an opportunity to participate in an induction program this year? If you have, how has it helped? (more…)

Science Teacher Does Big Things

Monday, November 1st, 2010

by Valerie Joyner
Introducing S.T.R.A.W. —Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed
It all started with one student asking a simple question, “How can we save an endangered species”?  (more…)

California Science Teacher Wins “Genius Grant”

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Amir Abo-Shaeer, a high school physics and engineering teacher at Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, has been named one of this year’s 23 MacArthur Fellows by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Fellows receive a “no strings attached” award of $500,000 over five years to use at their discretion.

This is apparently the first time that a public school science teacher has received the MacArthur award, often referred to as a “genius grant.”

In an interview with Education Week, Abo-Shaeer said he was “stunned” when he learned that he was a recipient of the honor. “I feel a sense of responsibility to really try to do the award justice,” he said. (more…)

News from Region 2

Monday, November 1st, 2010

by Eric Lewis

(Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano counties)

Region 2 News and Events

Greetings from our great region and home of the World Series Champions!  As usual, our area of California is full of wonderful events and resources for science teachers!

A free online database of high-quality science lessons from the Science and Health Education Partnership (SEP) at UCSF:

Each year, the teachers and volunteers involved in SEP programs, as well as the SEP staff themselves, design and pilot hundreds of high quality science lessons—lessons that actively engage learners in the processes of science.  These lessons have been captured and shared through SEP’s online lesson plan database, SEP Lessons (http://seplessons.ucsf.edu)—an online resource of high quality, investigative lesson plans to benefit the K-12 science teaching community.  Classroom-tested partnership lessons are reviewed by SEP staff and then published on the free, publicly accessible site.  All lessons in the database can be printed as conveniently formatted lesson plans for classroom use.  In addition, many lessons in the database include attachments of supporting materials such as diagrams, student data sheets, etc., as well as web links and more traditional citations. (more…)

News from Region 4

Monday, November 1st, 2010

by Peter A’Hearn

As the new region four director for CSTA, my first question was, “ Okay, so what is region 4?”  Turns out, region 4 is impressively large and diverse.  It stretches from the beaches of San Diego and Orange counties, over the mountains of Southern California, across the deserts to the Colorado River, and up the scarp of the eastern Sierra.  It includes the highest point in the lower 48 states, the lowest point in North America, and the oldest tree on Earth.  What an amazing place to be teaching science!

In November it’s cooling off fast, which is great news for those of us living in the desert.  The end of daylight savings time and the beginning of daylight wasting time has only one possible benefit—after-school astronomy can begin earlier.  In November, the spectacular object you see in the east right after sunset is a very close Jupiter.  Even small binoculars will pick up the four Gallilean moons, and Jupiter is awesome in even a small telescope.

November is also a good time for meteors, with several showers taking place this month.  What this means is that on any evening, you have a good chance of catching a shooting star (not really stars, but you know that).

I’ve frequently heard people complain that California doesn’t have fall colors.  Actually, the canyons of the eastern Sierra, especially Bishop canyon, have beautiful displays of  yellow, orange, and red.

Events and Opportunities:

The Natural Science Collaborative of the Desert Region is throwing the Educator’s Fall Festival November 4 at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert.  Come have some wine and cheese and learn about all of the opportunities to connect with the informal science community in and around the Coachella Valley.  The event is from 3:00 to 6:00. Call for more information at 760-346-5694 x2501.

The Santa Rosa National Monument has a full schedule of events in November.  Check their website at http://www.desertmountains.org/events.html for more information.

As the new region 4 director, I’ve had great support from outgoing director Karen Whitley- Smith.  But it’s a big region and it’s hard for me to find out about everything that is going on.  You’ve probably noticed that this newsletter is heavy on desert events.  You can help me to include events in your part of region 4 by sending me information about events and opportunities at pahearn@psusd.us.

Peter A’Hearn is science specialist at Palm Springs Unified School District and CSTA’s region 4 director.

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