January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

2012 California Science Education Conference: A Big Hit!

Posted: Thursday, November 1st, 2012

by Laura Henriques

More than 1,300 educators from across California came together in San Jose for three days of outstanding professional development. The general consensus is in – the 2012 California Science Education Conference was a big success!

The conference included more than 200 workshops of all science topics for grades preK-12! The ten focus speakers were invited to address issues of interest to the membership, and talked about the latest scientific research and science pedagogy in life, earth, and physical sciences. Short courses and field trips were also available to attendees. The short courses were 3- or 6-hour workshops on specific topics, including a new short course on primary science offered for the first time this year. It was particularly well received and is likely something that will continue in the future! There were three field trips this year: one to J. Lohr Winery for tasting and networking, one to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Reserve, and one to iFLY. Attendees came back from the iFly field trip ready to try skydiving for real! They learned about flight and terminal velocity along with two “flights” in the wind tunnel.

The keynote general session by Dr. Helen Quinn (author of the new Framework for K-12 Science Education) provided a clear, well-organized overview of the Framework and emerging Next Generation of Science Standards. The Framework serves as the guiding document for the standards. Dr. Quinn’s keynote, Ken Wesson’s and Jonathan Osborne’s focus speaker presentations, and various NGSS sessions presented by CSTA members and board members were all mentioned as conference highlights. The conference committee made a conscious effort to include multiple opportunities for the CSTA membership to come up to speed on the new standards, because they will be implemented soon and we need to be in a position to help others understand them and incorporate them into our schools. As a reminder, the next draft of the standards will be available for public review in mid-November. Please participate in this process. You can sign up to get updates about NGSS from the California Department of Education, or you can join CSTA today – members will receive an early and member-only notice when the draft standards are available for review. You can locate regional workshops and reviewing opportunities on the CSTA Calendar once the next draft of standards are released.

Closing session speaker Josh Tickell was inspiring and relevant. He provided us with a message of hope about the future for our students and for our planet. His session was preceded by a continental breakfast sponsored by Chevron, which was a nice way for members to come together and talk about the conference before going into the last day of workshops. After Josh Tickell, State Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson addressed the attendees. He applauded CSTA members for helping keep the requirement for high school science at two years instead of the proposed one year requirement. Torlakson mentioned how CSTA and the Department of Education are working together on the Next Generation Science Standards, a STEM task force, and other issues of concern to California science educators.

This year CSTA invited members to share conference highlights at the CSTA table in the exhibit hall. It was great to talk with so many of you and to hear about the inspiring workshops you attended. There were many sessions related to 21st century teaching in learning which got shout outs. Among those were Stacey Cool’s Teaching with Technology, the iPhones in the Classroom workshop, Social Media in the Classroom by Katy Scott, and Meredith Ashbran’s Flipping for Physics and Teaching Physics with Technology. Kellie Marcarelli inspired several teachers to begin using science notebooks or to revamp the way they use science notebooks with her Teaching Science with Interactive Notebook workshop. Beth McGrath and Robin Paul did a workshop called Projects with Pizzazz, which got high marks. Pete A’Hearn’s A Problem of Scale workshop received the most comments and a plea to repeat the workshop again next year! Sarah Caves did a session called Heat Transfer for Earth Scientists, which was rich and entertaining.  Thanks to all of them, and all the other presenters for sharing their expertise, experience and time with us. I think all of us in attendance have at least one or two new things to incorporate into our bag of tricks.

A big thank you to Lisa Hegdahl and the 2012 conference committee. They did a wonderful job creating a conference that had a nice selection of options for teachers of any grade or topic. We are grateful to all the presenters, without whom we couldn’t do the meeting. Last but not least, a huge thanks to all the science educators who came to San Jose! We look forward to seeing you in Palm Springs October 25-27, 2013!

Please consider sharing your expertise with us at the next conference. You know you have some really great lessons or strategies. Please step up and share those with your colleagues! CSTA is now accepting workshop proposals (60 minute sessions) and short courses (3- or 6-hour sessions). Click here for more information.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and past-president of CSTA. She serves as chair of CSTA’s Nominating Committee and is a co-chair of the NGSS Committee.

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.