November 2015 – Vol. 28 No. 3

2012 California Science Education Conference Field Trips

Posted: Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

by Heather A. Wygant

The California Science Education Conference is in San Jose this year on October 19-21 2012, and we’d love for you to join us for Professional Development, collaboration with science teachers across the state, and fun field trips!  This year we have four field trips planned:

Then, on Saturday, October 20 we have, “Monterey Bay Aquarium Visit,” and on Sunday, October 21 we have, “Living Wetlands- Environmental Education,” at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. 

Friday, October 19 – “Body Flights and the Physics of Terminal Velocity.” Participants will travel to iFLY, an indoor skydiving facility which houses a 1000-horsepower wind tunnel and flight chamber for skydivers. The wind rushes upward past you at 120 mph and supports you against gravity – you don’t fall! This field trip includes “jump training,” two flights in the flight chamber with an instructor, an experimental session measuring the terminal velocity and stability of objects in flight, observing turbulence, and measuring airspeed/pressure with aircraft instruments. A short lecture on fluid dynamics and aerodynamic drag is presented and customized to the student grade level of teachers who attend. These are the same activities that your students would if you took them on a visit there.

Friday, October 19 – “Discovering Ancient and Future Earthquakes.” This is an opportunity to travel back through time with Geologist Christopher DiLeonardo, Ph.D., to examine California’s geologic past. Climb through the remnants of an ancient volcanic landscape, while Condors soar overhead. Examine the evidence for earthquakes, long forgotten. Look for clues to the past written in stone and hidden with caves of this scenic wilderness. Learn the origin of the shaped rock spires from which the Pinnacles National Monument derives its name. Follow the past into the future while tracing the active tracing the active Calaveras fault neighborhoods and parks in downtown Hollister. Participants should wear comfortable clothing and footwear and be prepared for some hiking in the morning and in the early afternoon. The field trip will conclude in Hollister where we will have the opportunity to look at the mixing of neighborhoods and the tracing of an active fault near the downtown area.

Saturday, October 20 –“Monterey Bay Aquarium Visit.” As one of the world’s premier aquariums, and dedicated to the habitats and species of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary, MBA recognizes that teachers are essential partners in fulfilling its conservation, education, and science goals. MBA values educators and takes pride in offering exceptional, free professional development opportunities to teachers throughout the year. During this field trip participants will experience hands-on activities, learn about programs for teachers and students, touch and discover tide pool exhibits, and receive discounts at the bookstore and gift shops. Teachers will be given VIP treatment with early admission, a behind-the-scenes tour, participate in up-close encounters with marine species and ocean activities in the Discovery Labs. After visiting the Aquarium teachers are free to roam the wonderful stores, restaurants, galleries, etc. of Cannery Row and enjoy the beautiful ocean breezes and vistas while shopping.

Sunday, October 21 –“Living Wetlands- Environmental Education” at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Take a trip to Alviso to visit the Environmental Education Center of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the first urban National Wildlife Refuge established in the United States. This beautiful site is dedicated to preserving and enhancing wildlife habitat, protecting migratory birds, protecting threatened and endangered species, and providing opportunities for wildlife-oriented recreation and nature study for the surrounding communities. The Environmental Education Center at the southern end of San Francisco Bay is surrounded by uplands, marshes, salt ponds, and a freshwater tidal slough. Trails and a new boardwalk through the seasonal wetland habitat make it easy to explore the natural wonders of the South Bay. During the field trip activities, participants will explore the topics of water use, wetlands, and habitat preservation. A key focus for the Living Wetlands program is to demonstrate the relationship between our personal habits and their effects on local habitats and overall watershed health. All activities are correlated to fit California content standards.

Ticket prices and times can be found on our website at: or by using the links above.

Hope to see you at some or all of these great field trips!

Heather Wygant  teaches CP geology at Sobrato High School in Morgan Hill and is CSTA’s high school director.

Written by Heather Wygant

Heather Wygant

Heather Wygant teaches CP geology at Sobrato High School in Morgan Hill, CA and is a member of CSTA.

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Your Chance to Review the California Science Curriculum Framework Is Here

Posted: Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

by Laura Henriques

The California Science Curriculum Framework & Evaluation Criteria document is now ready for its first 60 Day Public Feedback period.! This is a critical process for the review and vetting of the document. Anyone from around the state is invited to read the document and provide feedback. CSTA encourages its members to participate in this process.

Just to be clear, the California Curriculum Framework is different from the NRC Framework for K-12 Science Education. The NRC Framework is the document which guided the development of Next Generation Science Standards. The California Curriculum Framework is the document which will help us make sense of those standards in our classrooms. Learn More…

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.

Call for Nominations for the 2016-2018 CSTA Board of Directors

Posted: Thursday, November 12th, 2015

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There is a time and energy commitment, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interesting in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. 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.

Middle School Madness Part 2: Integrated Science Versus Coordinated Science

Posted: Thursday, November 12th, 2015

by Robert Sherriff

In my last article, I compared the integrated versus discipline-specific models of teaching science in middle school. In this article, I seek to dispel some misconceptions and refine the comparison of an integrated science program with a coordinated science program.

This past summer, I was honored to participate in presenting at the two Northern California NGSS Early Implementation Institutes. I was part of a science content cadre to which I brought both my 25 years of middle school teaching experience and my knowledge of NGSS (I was on the State Science Expert Panel and was Co-chair of the Curriculum Framework Criteria Committee – CFCC). Other members of the cadre included Bob Rumer, an innovative engineering professor who helped us incorporate the Engineering Standards, and an outstanding high school science teacher, Lesley Gates, who helped provide activities and pedagogy. 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:

The Tree Room: A New Online Resource for Teaching Evolutionary Relationships

Posted: Thursday, November 12th, 2015

by Anna Thanukos, Teresa MacDonald, David Heiser, and Robert Ross

Understanding evolutionary trees is important for students because trees visually represent the idea that all life is genealogically linked. This powerful idea, tied to Next Generation Science Standards MS-LS4-2 and HS-LS4-1, is one of those most fundamental concepts that biological evolution offers to explain the biological world. The implication is that any set of species, no matter how distantly related, share common ancestors at some point in evolutionary history. Evolutionary trees are an efficient way to communicate that idea. It turns out, however, that evolutionary trees are not quite as straightforward to interpret as they may at first appear — so where can a teacher turn for a user-friendly introduction to their use in the classroom? 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:

Ship That Chip: Teaching Engineering by Using Snacks

Posted: Thursday, November 12th, 2015

by Joanne Michael

When a new school year begins, almost every student (and teacher) is excited, motivated, and ready to work hard. Almost as quickly as it began, however, the “newness” of the school year wears off, and the students are in need of something new to recharge them. At the same time, teachers attempting to implement NGSS (even if not in full implementation mode) are getting tired, and may need a pick-me-up of their own. Enter the “Ship the Chip” challenge! Learn More…

Written by Joanne Michael

Joanne Michael is the K-5 science specialist at Meadows Elementary in Manhattan Beach, CA, and CSTA’s intermediate grades 3-5) Director.