May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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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Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HappyAtoms

Please contact Rosanne Luu at rluu@wested.org or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.