September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Middle School Science Classrooms Needed for Student Interviews – $150 Teacher Stipend

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Curriculum developers and education researchers at the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley are working together to design and develop a new generation of middle school science curriculum for use across the country.Our team is seeking to conduct student interviews in 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th grade classrooms in the Bay Area and nearby counties during the first two weeks of October. Participating teachers will receive a $150 stipend. (more…)

The Nation’s Report Card Releases Results From an Innovative, Interactive Computer-Based Writing Assessment

Friday, September 14th, 2012

More than three-quarters of 8th- and 12th-grade students perform at or above the Basic level.

WASHINGTON (Sept. 14, 2012) – For the first time in its history, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has used computers to assess students’ writing, with national samples of 8th- and 12th-grade students. Results from NAEP—also known as The Nation’s Report Card—showed that more than 75 percent of students at grades 8 and 12 performed at or above the Basic achievement level, meaning that they have at least partial mastery of the knowledge and skills needed to communicate clearly in writing. But only about a quarter of the 8th and 12th graders wrote at or above the Proficient level, which means they demonstrate solid academic performance. (more…)

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Greatness by Design, Task Force’s Comprehensive Report on Supporting Outstanding Teaching

Monday, September 10th, 2012

SACRAMENTO—In a new report, a group of California’s leading education experts formed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson called for sweeping improvements to the way teachers are recruited, trained, brought into the profession, mentored, and evaluated.

“This is the most comprehensive look our state has taken at California’s most important profession—teaching—in a generation,” said Torlakson, who created the 48-member Task Force on Educator Excellence in January in partnership with theCommission on Teacher Credentialing External link opens in new window or tab. (CTC). “We are blessed to have many outstanding educators already in our classrooms. And every child deserves a great teacher, one who cares for children today and helps prepare them to contribute to the society and economy of the 21st century. (more…)

Legislative Update

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

The end of August is a very busy time of year in the California legislature. It marks the close of the legislative year, as August 24 is the last day a bill can be amended on the floor and August 31 is the last day for each house to pass bills. After this, the next major deadline in the legislative process is the end of September, which is the deadline for Governor Brown to sign or veto any bills passed by the legislature. There are currently several pieces of proposed legislature that are potentially important to California science educators, and already some significant amendments have been made during these last few weeks of jockeying and positioning to get bills passed. (more…)

Primary Teachers: The California Science Education Conference Is for YOU!

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

by Michelle French and Valerie Joyner

CSTA recognizes that teachers of primary grades play an instrumental role in the delivery of high quality science education in California.  Like all curricular areas, a strong foundation in science is critical to ensure students develop the skills and concepts needed to succeed throughout their journey from kindergarten to high school.  According to A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2012), “There is ample opportunity to develop scientific thinking, argumentation, and reasoning in the context of familiar phenomena in grades K-2, and that is the experience that will best support science learning across the grades.”   (more…)

Introduction to the Scientific Method Lesson Plan

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

by Jeff Orlinsky

It is the start of a new year and you are looking for new way to start your class.  How about introducing the scientific method with this simple (more…)

The NGSS and College and Career Readiness – or – How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

By Pete A’Hearn

Both the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are based on the idea of college and career readiness. So what does that really mean in this day and age? I had the opportunity this summer to spend time finding out. A local business organization, the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership, organized a set of field trips to visit job sites in the energy and utilities sectors. Designed for teachers involved in utilities and alternative energy career pathway programs, it was a chance to see which skills and knowledge people working in science related careers were using in their jobs, and what helped them to advance and be successful. We visited a geothermal energy plant, wastewater treatment plants, electrical grid operations, irrigation canals, and spoke with city planners. I also visited a distillery to learn about the process of producing bio-fuels for biology and chemistry classes. In the process, I not only met microbiologists, geologists, engineers, and chemists with college degrees, but also many workers without college degrees who use science everyday in their well-paying jobs. (more…)

Region 4 News and Events

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

by Jeanine Wulfenstein

Across CSTA region 4, educators are returning to classrooms rested and inspired to motivate students to reach new heights in science education. While this year will be a challenge for educators with looming budget uncertainties, the implementation of the common core standards, and preparing for the next generation science standards, it is also exciting with the onset of change and opportunities for inspiring learning in new ways. The districts in region 4 (Imperial, Inyo, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties), as well as CSTA, have been busily preparing educators to meet the demands of these changing times.   (more…)

Mars Curiosity

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

by Bethany Dixon

With a new year, it’s easy for teachers to feel like they’re on Mars, but with the landing of the Curiosity, we now have the opportunity to show students what it’s actually like to be there! How long can you spend on Mars? Whether it’s 60 seconds or 16 lessons, integrating the landing of the Curiosity rover into your curriculum can be more than just an interesting lesson in current STEM events. Organized by approximate time needed, here are the latest resources to deliver an out-of-this-world classroom experience, with a preview that spans bell work, an Emmy-award winning short video series, standards-based, ready-to-go lesson plans, and resources for using Mars for interdisciplinary community involvement: (more…)

Region 2 News and Events

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

by Eric Lewis

Welcome back to school everyone!  I hope that you had a great summer and had a chance to do some valuable professional development.  I also trust that like me, you’re re-energized for another school year and that you’re excited to meet your new students and families.

This summer I took part in many worthwhile professional development opportunities.  While I really enjoyed building my skills for my English Language Learners through QTEL from WestEd and learning about (and creating!) digital curriculum resources at the Exploratorium, my favorite was as Educator-at-Sea on E/V Nautilus.  After a four day training in Rhode Island where I learned about the types of exploration happening this summer and fall on the ship, the types of resources that support Nautilus’ underwater explorations, and the ins and outs of using the Nautilus website, I was flown out to Turkey to start my work on the ship.  (more…)

Sky-Watching Activities for September and October 2012

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

by Robert C. Victor

Evening sky gazing

In early September, two contrastingly colored stars are the brightest points of light in the deepening twilight one hour after sunset. Both of zero magnitude, they are blue-white Vega nearly overhead, and golden-orange Arcturus nearly due west about one-third of the way from horizon to overhead. Stars of lesser brightness, but still of first magnitude, are Altair to the SSE of Vega and Deneb to the ENE, completing the Summer Triangle with Vega; and reddish Antares, low in the south-southwest. Have your students keep track of these stars in twilight in coming months, and they’ll witness the effects of the Earth’s annual revolution around the Sun. (more…)

Conference Update: NEW Field Course Just Added to the 2012 California Science Education Conference

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

by Lisa Hegdahl

Even though planning for the 2012 California Science Education Conference in San Jose, October 19-21 is almost complete, the planning committee continues to find new ways to make this conference the best yet! In addition to the four previously scheduled Field Courses, a fourth has just been added for Friday, October 19th from 5:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.  Enjoy a wine tasting event hosted by J. Lohr. Participants will sample 6 wines and enjoy light appetizers. This is an opportunity to network with your fellow science teachers in a relaxed and fun environment. Transportation to and from the winery tasting room and the San Jose Convention Center are included in the $20 ticket price. J. Lohr is a 2012 California State Fair Award winning winery (times 10) whose grapes are grown in Monterey, Paso Robles, and Napa.  See the CSTA website for more details. (more…)

What Makes for an Effective Science Demonstration?

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

by Laura Henriques

You are standing at the front of the classroom, poised behind some apparatus. Students are watching expectantly. Something exciting is about to happen, but what? The tension in the room is palpable as students eagerly await the moment when you make the magic of science come alive. You make a motion to start the demo and then pause, pulling the students along with you to further build the anticipation. When you do the demonstration and it works you have their attention, you’ve piqued their interest and they are ready to learn. (more…)

Teaching Tips for New Teachers: The Importance of Bell-to-Bell Instruction

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

by Amanda L. Smith

During your first few years of teaching, it’s easy to become preoccupied with mastering craft of content, discipline, and classroom management.  However, it’s also important to follow the best practice of using your class time as efficiently and effectively as possible. One teaching method that may be used to accomplish this is called “bell-to-bell” instruction. You might think that this means having students participate in one particular task or activity for an entire class period.  This is a common misconception, partially due to the name “bell-to-bell” instruction itself, but also because teachers may be more focused on getting through all their content in the duration allotted rather than thinking globally about overall classroom learning objectives and management. (more…)

Forward Looking Retrospective

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

by Rick Pomeroy

Every year, about mid August, I start to get this funny, unsettled feeling. As I drive around town, I see more and more cars in school parking lots, lawns around school get mowed more regularly, large piles of boxes appear by the front doors of schools, and the lights at the local football stadium are on late in the evening. Like the first leaves in spring or the smell of freshly mowed grass on a warm summer day, these images of the reopening of schools signal a start of yet another school year.  These are inspiring to me and the excitement and anticipation that comes with every new school year are the feelings I look forward to and cherish. (more…)

Focus Speaker Spotlight: Eldridge Moores and the Importance of Earth Science

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

Eldridge Moores is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Davis, where he has been a faculty member since 1966. His research has involved the tectonics of ophiolites in the Alpine-Himalayan and Western US Cordilleran mountain systems and has involved field work in about 30 countries.

For several decades, Moores has been working on raising general awareness of Earth Science. In particular, he has been working during the past decade to improve the status of Earth and Space Sciences instruction in California secondary schools. Moores holds that the field of Earth and Space Sciences has gone through two revolutions in the past fifty years. The first was the plate tectonic revolution, which lead to new insights into the nature of the Earth and natural processes active on and in it. The second was the planetary revolution, occasioned by exploration of neighboring planets and of their compositions and histories in comparison to that of the Earth. The products of these revolutions are exciting, integrate multiple science disciplines, and can an ideal way to get students interested in science. (more…)

Tuolumne River Trust Environmental Education Volunteers Needed

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

Organization Description: The Tuolumne River Trust is a San Francisco-based environmental nonprofit, with the following mission:

The Tuolumne River Trust is the voice for the River. We promote stewardship of the Tuolumne through:
• Education, community outreach and adventures
• Collaboration with a diverse array of stakeholders
• On-the-ground restoration projects
• Advocacy and grassroots organizing to demonstrate public support for our work

Position Description: We are currently recruiting volunteers to help with “That’s the Tuolumne in my Tap,” a bay-area based environmental education program. (more…)

What is it?

Saturday, September 1st, 2012


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What is it August Explanation

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

Image courtesy of Carolyn Holcroft.

Answer: These are liverworts: http://www.backyardnature.net/liverwrt.htm.

The picture has both cupules and receptacles.

Responses from readers:

Dawn O’Connor: Brylophytes

Sue Black: Dawn’s right – it is a bryophyte. Specifically, this lovely plant is a liverwort! On it we can see several gemmae (“GEM-mee”) cups containing bits of new liverwort for asexual reproduction. Up here in the Northwest, we see lots of liverworts! Rain splashes onto the gemmae cups and disperses the liverwort bits!

Peter A’Hearn: A Martian life form as photographed by the Curiosity Rover. :-).

Brian Brown: Liverwort (Bryophyte) thallus with reproductive structures (gemma cups and archegoniophore)

CSTA Member Notice of Annual Meeting and Report

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

The annual meeting of the members of the California Science Teachers Association will be held on Friday, October 19, 2012, 9:15 am  in Salon I/II/III of the Marriott San Jose Hotel, located at 301 S. Market Street, San Jose, CA 95113. Please join CSTA for an update on the business of the association followed by a keynote presentation by Helen Quinn!

CSTA Annual Report to Members:

Welcome New CSTA Board Members, Thank You Outgoing Board Members!

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2012-2014 CSTA Elections and the appointment of a new Intermediate Director. Returning to his previous position is Eric Lewis as Region 2 Director. Returning to the board in a new capacity is Heather Wygant who will now serve as Treasurer. CSTA welcomes back to the board Gregory Potter in his new position as 4-Year College Director. New to the board are Jeff Orlinsky, High School Director, Sean Timmons, Intermediate Director, and Jeanine Wulfenstein, Region 4 Director. (more…)

Top San Diego Science Students to Be Recognized by The College of American Pathologists

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

The College of American Pathologists (CAP) will honor six San Diego high school students with the College’s 2012 “Path to a Future in Medicine” award.

The students will be invited to attend and display their winning projects at the College’s annual meeting, CAP ’12 – THE Pathologists’ Meeting™, on Sunday, September 9, at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, CA.  (more…)

2012 CSTA Conference – Complete Schedule Now Online

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

The 2012 California Science Education Conference is only 6 weeks away. Now is the time to start putting together your schedule, submitting your registration, and reserving your hotel room. October 1 is the deadline to register in advance for the conference, and at a discounted rate. The conference will be held at the San Jose Convention Center and Marriott San Jose October 19 – 21. Complete details are available online at http://www.cascience.org/csta/conf_home.asp. (more…)

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