September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

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.

Leave a Reply


California Science Assessment Update

Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

by Jessica Sawko

In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.

At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at 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.

Some ways to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in your classroom

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

by Carol Peterson

1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. 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.

2016 Award Recipients – Join CSTA in Honoring Their Accomplishments

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference  on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!

Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award

John Keller

John Keller

The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” 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.

NGSS: Making Your Life Easier

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Peter A’hearn

Wait… What?

NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?

The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Celestial Highlights, September 2016

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt 

Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

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.