April 2015 – Vol. 27 No. 8

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 president of CSTA.

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Legislative Action Alert – ESEA/NCLB Reauthorization

Posted: Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

CSTA’s counterparts at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has been actively representing the voice of science teachers in Washington D.C. This morning they sent out this call to action:

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are currently working to reauthorize (rewrite) No Child Left Behind. Please contact your members of Congress immediately, and ask them to make STEM education a national priority. At the Legislative Action Center of the STEM Education Coalition website, you can send a letter to your elected representatives, asking them to

  • Maintain a strong focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.
  • Continue the focus on math and science as required elements of any state’s accountability system.
  • Provide states with dedicated funding to support STEM-related activities and teacher training.

It is urgent that educators take a moment to write to your elected officials, and send this message to colleagues and networks in your school or district.

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.

Science Assessment & Accountability Update – FAQs Included

Posted: Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

On March 31, 2015 participants from the Science Assessment Stakeholder Meetings held in July 2014 were invited to participate in a follow up meeting to provide input on what a formative component, a Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Digital Center, should look like for California. This NGSS Digital Center could include formative assessment tools similar to that of the Smarter Balanced Digital Library for ELA and mathematics. This meeting will take place at the end of April 2015. This is very exciting news as it gives some insight to the direction the state may take with the future statewide assessment system to support the Next Generation Science Standards.  Learn More…

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

Where Are the Women in STEM? What Can We Do to Support and Retain Them?

Posted: Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

by Laura Henriques

Women are far less likely than men to earn pSTEM (physical Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) degrees or work in the field. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but it has gotten a bit of press lately. US News and World Reports had an article highlighting a Clinton Foundation Report showing women in developing countries have less access to cell phones (and therefore the internet) than men. This results in decreased access to health care, fewer job options, a lack of flexibility with work and childcare related issues, and a lowered sense of empowerment. That article linked to several other articles about the lack of diversity in STEM fields in the US, the leaky pipeline and more. Learn More…

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and president of CSTA.

Strategies for Assessing Student Understanding in the NGSS Classroom

Posted: Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

by Sara Dozier

Like me, you are probably excited about the opportunities that the Next Generation Science Standards offer students and teachers. For the first time in 17 years, our science standards are asking us to engage our students in science learning that is engaging, meaningful and just plain fun. In addition to our excitement, though, there is also some apprehension. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

Fostering Metacognition Through Assessment

Posted: Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

by Jill Grace

Assessment…

When I ponder that word, I am flooded with various – shall I say – feelings. And these feelings are deep-rooted feelings. On one hand, as a teacher, assessment is simply the cornerstone of understanding how my students are doing from beginning to end of instruction. Building a classroom culture where students are expected to have conversations about content provides me with a special window to listen in – are they getting it? I don’t need to give a quiz or a test, I just need to listen. I often look over their shoulders, peering into their personal thinking as they describe what they understood in their science notebook. I assess constantly, daily, by the minute just by being present walking around the classroom. Learn More…

Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace teaches 7th grade science at Palos Verdes Intermediate School and is the Middle School/Jr. High Director for CSTA.