January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Now Seeking Science Teachers for Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC) – Mathematics

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

The California Department of Education (CDE) and the State Board of Education (SBE) are pleased to announce that they are recruiting applicants for the Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC) to assist with the revision of the Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools: Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (Mathematics Framework). The Mathematics Framework will be revised to incorporate and support the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, adopted by the SBE in August 2010, and to reflect recent research on effective mathematics instruction and current statutes.

Applications will be accepted through April 18, 2012. The Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) will submit a list of recommended applicants to the SBE for appointment in July 2012. (more…)

Now Seeking Science Teachers for Common Core Focus Groups

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

The California Department of Education (CDE) is pleased to announce that it is recruiting members for four focus groups to provide input on the upcoming English Language Arts/English Language Development Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (ELA/ELD Framework). The ELA/ELD Framework will incorporate and support the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects, adopted by the California State Board of Education (SBE) in August 2010, and reflect current research on English language arts instruction. It will also incorporate new English Language Development Standards, which are due to be adopted by the SBE in late summer of 2012. Curriculum frameworks provide guidance to teachers, administrators, and parents on how a standards-based curriculum is implemented in the classroom. The deadline to apply is April 5. (more…)

Helen Quinn on the Framework for K-12 Science Education

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Presented at the Lawrence Hall of Science on July 28, 2011. This video will provide you with information about the research behind the framework and key features of the framework. Helen Quinn will present the opening keynote address at the 2012 California Science Education Conference in San Jose on Friday, October 19, 2012.

The Framework for K-12 Science Education Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas was developed by the National Research Council and is the document guiding the development of the Next Generation Science Standards. Helen Quinn served as the chair of the NRC Committee that wrote the Framework. The Framework is available for download for free from the National Academies Press at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13165.

Absolute Dating for Geology/Earth/Environmental Science

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

by Heather A. Wygant

Here is a virtual lab I found to use in my AP Environmental Class this year.  (more…)

COPUS Announces Winner of Award for Service to Public Understanding of Science

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

The Coalition for the Public Understanding of Science today announced this year’s winner of the Paul Shin Award – an annual award honoring individuals for their dedication to communicating science to the public.

The 2012 winner is William (Bill) Gomez, Docent at Fitzgerald Marine Preserve and Stanford University’s Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. Bill was an executive with Syntex for many years and was fortunate to retire early at which point he turned his prodigious talents to teaching and volunteering with various ecology and environmental science groups in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. As a volunteer, his activities vary from speaking to a wide range of visitors about the ecology and biodiversity of the preserves, assisting with research projects, tidepooling for 3rd graders, scuba diving with marine biology students, to sharing science with students at a nearby alternative high school. (more…)

Give a Class the Universe: Volunteer for Project ASTRO

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Project ASTRO is looking for amateur and professional astronomers to work with teachers and students in 3rd ¬ 9th grade classrooms. This is a great opportunity to share your love of astronomy with a receptive audience and help kids learn about science.

Bay Area Project ASTRO, part of a national program at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, pairs you with a local teacher at a school convenient for you. Together, you and your teacher partner attend a 2-day summer workshop to learn hands-on, inquiry-based astronomy activities and then you “adopt” a class
for a year. (more…)

Newton’s Laws of Motion

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Courtesy of QUEST.

What is it?

Thursday, March 1st, 2012


What is it February Explanation

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

February 2012 Photo of the MonthPhoto courtesy of Carolyn Holcroft.

It is a juvenile Cephalotus follicularis pitcher. This guy is also known as a West Australian Pitcher plant. The photo was taken with a macro lens, the actual pitcher is only about a centimeter wide.

Responses from readers:

Tara Crow: Cepholatus – the Australian Pitcher Plant! One of my favorites.

Stacy Brennan: A dandelion blossom.

Liz Mitchell: Young Venus fly trap plant that is still developing?

Anna Cordes: Pitcher plant.

Darrell: The beginning of a fungus fruiting body.

Calling All PreK-2nd Grade Teachers!

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

by Michelle French

Attention all pre-K, kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade teachers!  The 2012 California Science Education Conference (CSEC) will contain an exciting Short Course specifically targeting professional development for primary teachers.  Valerie Joyner, Region 1 CSTA Director, and I are hosting a Short Course that will incorporate:

  • professional development in physical science to strengthen your personal understanding of the content area;
  • pedagogy sessions which will target the needs of primary teachers and students;
  • sessions for integrating science and literacy, and;
  • sessions pertaining to the integration and implementation of the California State Common Core Standards.

We will be bringing in the best-of-the-best from around California to present during the six hours devoted to primary teachers…the foundation of science education. (more…)

Fordham Institute Review of California Science Standards Given a C-

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

by Peter A’Hearn

The Fordham Institute recently gave the California State Science Standards an A in its recent “State of State Science Standards” report.  The report says the standards are, “Truly excellent.” Pretty cool huh? We’re number one! We’re number one!

These standards have been around since 1998 and have definitely had the time to become central to the way that science is taught in California. And yet in the most recent Nation’s Report Card (NAEP 2009), California ranked second to last in science achievement out of 43 participating states. We beat Mississippi! They had a hurricane that year, what is our excuse?  On the NAEP, only 22% of California 4th graders and 19% of California 8th graders were proficient in science. The report is available at http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2011451.

Maybe the problem is that the “truly excellent” standards haven’t been properly supported. The Fordham report does point out that, “standards alone can’t drive achievement.” But there is evidence that California teachers are doing a good job of teaching the science standards as seen on CST scores. On the California 2009 CST science test for the same year as the NAEP, 49% of 5th graders and 63% of 8th graders were graded proficient in their understanding of the California standards. This is actually frequently the pattern when NAEP scores are compared with state test scores. (more…)

Science Under Siege

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

by Rick Pomeroy

Just when we thought that there was a glimmer of hope for a new set of standards that would engage students in authentic and relevant inquiry based science, we must contend with three significant threats to science education. Due to be released for the first public comment on March 30, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), based on the Conceptual Framework for Science Education, promise a new and exciting view of science education. “The Framework is designed to help realize a vision for education in the sciences and engineering in which students, over multiple years of school, actively engage in science and engineering practices and apply crosscutting concepts to deepen their understanding of the core ideas in these fields.” (Conceptual Framework, 2010). If the NGSS come anywhere close to this vision, it will be a significant step towards more science instruction that focuses on college and career readiness through critical thinking, problem solving, and active engagement. Given that the current standards, first published in 1998, focus primarily on content with little requirement for problem solving and critical thinking, adoption of the NGSS will change the landscape of science instruction. To accomplish such a paradigm shift will require significant effort and time. (more…)

Productive Discussions

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

by Donna Ross

It is the season for future educators to settle into new placements as student teachers.  As their mentors (guide or cooperating teachers) help them find a home in the classroom, it seemed timely to remind both parties of a few basics that can help smooth the process.  It is worth noting that a critical part of an effective student teaching placement is the opportunity for both the student teacher and the mentor to discuss pedagogy, theory, and practices.  It is not necessary for both parties to share the same views about every topic.  (more…)

Region 2 News and Events

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

by Eric Lewis

Spring is in the air; a time to start getting excited about longer days and warmer weather.  It’s also a wonderful time to be thinking about all that you’ve accomplished this year with your students and to reflect upon what you’d like to do different (or the same) in your next year of teaching.

It’s been a few years since my first year of teaching.  I remember thinking that I was doing OK my first year.  Sure, I had plenty of students failing my class, but that was because they were absent too much and didn’t do any homework or study for exams.  I had pretty good classroom management and had a handle on what I wanted to teach when.  (more…)

Six Spectacular Months for Planet-Watching: March-August 2012

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

by Robert Victor

In March-August 2012, students, parents, and teachers can enjoy: The Moon passing as many as five bright planets and five stars of first magnitude or brighter each month; four bright planets Mercury-Venus-Jupiter-Mars visible simultaneously at dusk in late February and early March; Venus-Jupiter as a close brilliant pair at dusk around March 13 (and at dawn around July 1); Venus in crescent phases this spring, culminating with its rare transit across face of Sun on June 5; Mars in early March brighter and closer than it’ll be again until its next approach to Earth in April 2014; four bright planets Jupiter-Venus-Mars-Saturn visible simultaneously each evening during most of March and April; Saturn and the star Spica visible all night in mid-April and paired more closely in spring and summer 2012 than they’ll be again until 2041; a major solar eclipse before sunset on May 20; a partial lunar eclipse before dawn on June 4; and a compact rendezvous of Mars, Saturn, and Spica at dusk just after Curiosity lands on the Red Planet in August. (more…)

The History of the Graduation Requirement Mandate

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

by Carolyn Holcroft

To truly understand the context behind the current dialog and debate regarding the proposed graduation requirement mandate elimination, we have to go back to 1979. That year California voters passed Proposition 4, thus requiring the State of California to reimburse local governments (including schools) for any increased costs resulting from new programs or higher levels of service required by state law, technically labeled a “mandate.” (This was ultimately codified in Government Code section 17561.) Right now there are 51 mandates on the books for which the state must reimburse schools. (more…)

Secondary Science Teachers: Updates and Opportunities

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

by Heather Wygant

  • You can find an Honors Earth Science course that was accepted by the University of California as a “d” lab course at honorsearthscience.com.  Also included is some information about Honors Geology and offering a dual-credit course by partnering with a neighboring university.
  • High school teachers!  We need your input!  Please go to the following link and take the short survey about your experiences with CSTA.  Please pass on this survey to non-CSTA members as well.  We would like to know what high school science teachers need and want in a professional organization!  So please go here: http://goo.gl/9W8yB to complete the survey!

Summer Opportunities for Secondary School Teachers:


Be Part of the 2012 California Science Education Conference!

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

by Lisa Hegdahl
Planning for the 2012 California Science Education Conference, to be held October 19-21, 2012 in San Jose is well under way. Reviews of Short Course proposals, communications with prospective guest speakers, and contracts with host hotels are all near completion.  Now it is your turn to get involved in the planning.

Instead of simply attending the California Science Education Conference, why not present a workshop?  It’s easy!  Think of all the amazing teaching that happens daily in your classroom, then share just one grade level specific lesson or strategy with fellow educators. Teachers, informal educators, university professors, professional developers, and other members of the science education community are invited to submit workshop proposals.

Not only do workshop presenters receive the fulfillment that comes from inspiring classroom teachers, CSTA provides one complimentary conference registration to the lead presenter of a workshop who is a member in good standing of CSTA through November 1, 2012. (See the CSTA website for information regarding non-CSTA members and co-presenters). The CSTA website also contains details regarding the workshop proposal review process, tips for writing a successful proposal, and information on how workshop presenters will be notified. But don’t wait – workshop proposals are due March 6.  To submit a proposal, log on to the CSTA website here. (more…)

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