January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

NGSS CDE Update Issue 4 (Week Beginning October 29, 2012

Monday, October 29th, 2012

From the California Department of Education NGSS Listserv:

Update from the California Department of Education (CDE)

Issue 4 (Week beginning October 29, 2012)


  • Final Public Release of the Draft NGSS
  •  Legislative Update
  •  Development of the NGSS
  • California’s Involvement as a Lead State Partner

The NGSS CDE update is an e-mail to inform California educators and parents of new developments and upcoming events. Please feel free to share information in the update with those who are interested in the NGSS CDE’s work. (more…)

2011/2012 Legislative Year Comes to a Close

Monday, October 1st, 2012

The end of the 2011/2012 legislative year is here and with it come a few changes for education in California. Below is a list of approvals and vetos by Governor Brown on a few key bills that CSTA has been tracking.

Bills Approved:

SB 1200 (Hancock): This is a two part bill. One part of the bill will allow the Superintendent at the State Board to modify the Common Core math standards that were adopted in 2010. A group of experts including teachers will make the recommendations for changes to the Superintendent and there were will two public meetings held on the proposed modifications. Per the language of the bill, the modifications that are recommended to the state board shall: (more…)

Region 2 News and Events

Monday, October 1st, 2012

by Eric Lewis

I hope that you take the opportunity to attend the California Science Education Conference in San Jose this year, and don’t forget to encourage your colleagues to join CSTA. I’m hoping that we’ll have the opportunity to grow our organization and expand to meet your needs and your colleague’s needs. To that end, please feel free to email me directly so that I can represent your questions and concerns with the CSTA board as a whole, and let me know if there are things that you’d like to add to our Region’s offerings.

Check out the events calendar to see all that is happening in our region this month: http://www.classroomscience.org/events.

New CCSS Professional Learning Module Now Available from the CDE

Monday, October 1st, 2012

The California Department of Education (CDE) is pleased to announce that the first of several professional learning modules designed to support California educators in delivering curriculum aligned to the CCSS is now available online on the Brokers of Expertise California Common Core State Standards Professional Learning Modules Web page. This first module was developed by the Sacramento County Office of Education and is titled, Overview of the Common Core State Standards for California Educators. The module is available in two formats: independent online use and on-site blended group facilitation.

Additional professional learning modules will become available in October 2012. For more information, please visit the CDE CCSS Professional Learning Modules for Educators Web page.

NSTA Launches NGSS Webinar Series on Scientific Practices

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Preparing for the Next Generation Science Standards—Major Practices

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), expected out next year, are based on A Framework for K-12 Science Education, released in 2011 by the National Research Council (NRC). The Framework describes the major practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas that all students should be familiar with by the end of high school. (more…)

Diversifying Science Classroom Practice – Engaging with the ‘Youtube Generation’

Monday, October 1st, 2012

by Brendan O’Brien 

What is www.60secondscience.net?

60SecondScience is a fully online International Video Competition sponsored by the Department of Education (DEECD-Innovation Next Practice Division), Victoria, Australia. Since its first iteration in 2008, it has enjoyed continual growth and appeal, from 30 Victorian school-only participants, to well over 300 science videos uploaded in 2012, with over 1100 registering from 40 countries. The competition is Free to Enter and links directly to required student outcomes over a number of Science, Citizenship and ICT Learning Standards. $10,000 in cash prizes is distributed each year, as determined by a prestigious International panel of judges. There are Divisions which cater for students of different ages. (more…)

The Tech Museum Hosting Mythbusters Exhibition During the California Science Education Conference

Monday, October 1st, 2012

by Lisa Hegdahl

While attending the California Science Education Conference in San Jose, consider checking out The Tech Museum.  During the Conference, the Tech Museum will be hosting an exhibition from the Discovery Channel’s Emmy nominated series, “MythBusters,” called “MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition.” The exhibition will showcase hands on, interactive displays that are appropriate for all ages.  The Tech Museum is open daily 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.  Tickets for the MythBusters exhibit can be purchased now at The Tech Museum website. The Tech Museum offers free museum membership to K-12  teachers. Check out the benefits of membership on-line at http://www.thetech.org/teacher-opportunities/free-teacher-membership.

California Science Project Partner Strand at the 2012 CSTA Conference

Monday, October 1st, 2012

by Maria Simani

The Endless Summer of Learning

Summer has been a busy time for teachers and professional development providers all over California. This especially holds true for the California Science Project, (CSP), which this year engaged more than 800 K-12 teachers in professional learning institutes at 18 campus locations across the state.

As the Executive Director of the CSP network, I had the pleasure to visit most of these institutes and experience these professional opportunities as a learner as well as an observer. What I valued the most from these experiences was that for a few days I became part of a collaboration among science educators, scientists, and teacher participants in their efforts to build new knowledge around their practice of teaching science, and reflect how a new teaching practice may positively impact students’ understanding in the classroom. It is through these professional learning communities that participants are re-invigorated in their teaching career, and often exposed to ways of teaching that they may never have seen before.  (more…)

Closing Keynote Speaker: Josh Tickell

Monday, October 1st, 2012

The Closing Session and Keynote Address will take place on Sunday, October 21, 8:00 am – 9:15 am at the Marriott San Jose. The event is open to all conference registrants and is generously sponsored by Chevron. After the keynote address, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson will address the conference audience. CSTA hopes that you will join us for the event and the entire California Science Education Conference this October 19 – 21, 2012. (more…)

Focus Speaker Feature – Betsy Rupp Fulwiler

Monday, October 1st, 2012

by Valerie Joyner

Betsy Fulwiler is the developer of the nationally recognized, “Expository Writing and Science Notebook Program,” a part of the Seattle Public School System.  She is a pioneer in the development of strategies for students to deepen their understanding of science through writing.

In 1996, with funding from the NSF, the Seattle’s Public System set out to make a systemic change from their Pre-K-5 science instruction to an Inquiry-Based Science Program throughout the district.  Fulwiler, an active participant in this reform effort, was excited to begin teaching her students using the new inquiry skills she had learned.  However, she found it challenging to teach her elementary students to write about science, and this marked the beginning of her journey to research and develop writing practices that encouraged analytical thinking in her students’ writing.  (more…)

5th Grade – Root Beer Chemistry

Monday, October 1st, 2012

by Sean Timmons

Activities involving dry ice and root beer help students understand the chemical and physical changes that occur in matter. Students will investigate evidence (more…)

NGSS Blog – Two Things

Monday, October 1st, 2012

by Pete A’Hearn

If you really want to get a leg up on the Next Generation Science Standards, then the place to be is the California Science Education Conference October this October 19th to 21st in San Jose.  The keynote speaker on Friday will be Dr. Helen Quinn, who is heading up the whole NGSS effort. There will also be a series of workshops for those looking to learn more about the NGSS. A Common Core State Standards strand will be offered as well, and those of you who have been closely following this blog know that there are some strong parallels between the two sets of standards.

Register for the conference at http://www.cascience.org/csta/conf_registration.asp.

Secondly, if you were one of those who participated in the public review of the NGSS in May and were wondering what happened to your feedback, I had the opportunity to speak with one of the California state reviewers (there are 70) and got some insights.  (more…)

Events and Happenings in Region 1

Monday, October 1st, 2012

by Valerie Joyner

I am very excited about this year’s CSTA California Science Education Conference in San Jose, October 19-21.  There are so many offerings for everyone from K-12, to Next Generations Science Standards (NGSS), K-12 Science Framework, content in all of the sciences, informal science education, environmental education and STEM to mention a few. I hope you have registered by now and are encouraging your colleagues to attend. I look forward to seeing you in San Jose!  (more…)

Oregon State University Study Documents Invasive Species Release by Science Teachers

Monday, October 1st, 2012

by Judith Aquilar

Oregon State University recently released their findings of a study conducted regarding the introduction of invasive species by science teachers. It was presented on August 7, 2012 at the National Meeting of the Ecological Society of America. The study surveyed 2000 teachers from Florida, New York, Indiana, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, California, Connecticut, British Columbia, and Ontario and included focus groups and interviews with teachers, curriculum specialists and biological supply house owners and managers.  The researchers found that one out of four educators who used live organisms in their classrooms released them into the wild after they were done using them. Some of the organisms included crayfish, elodea, amphibians, and mosquito fish. (more…)

Focus Speaker Feature – Karis McFarlane

Monday, October 1st, 2012

by Lisa Hegdahl

Karis McFarlane is an environmental scientist who has been using radiocarbons to study and better understand the carbon cycle since 1999. By studying Earth’s carbon cycle—the exchange of carbon between the planet’s land, atmosphere, and oceans—scientists are trying to understand the role played by huge tropical rainforests such as the Amazon River basin. In particular, they want to determine how long an ecosystem stores atmospheric carbon dioxide in its plants, soils, and rivers. At the 2012 CSTA Conference, Karis McFarlane will discuss the ways radiocarbon is used to study carbon cycling in ecosystems, and why it’s unique and important for climate change. She will focus on the importance of understanding how much, and for how long, carbon is sequestered in soil, as well as the role it plays in the carbon cycle. Environmental science educators and other conference attendees will find this lecture informative and thought provoking. (more…)

Focus Speaker Feature – Paul Doherty

Monday, October 1st, 2012

by Laura Henriques

Learning Physics by Doing Physics

As California science teachers we’ve all heard of the Exploratorium, and I am hoping that most of us have had the pleasure of spending some time there. The Exploratorium is the Grand Dame of hands-on science museums. In addition to the wonderful facility, The Exploratorium hosts workshops for teachers, and publishes books. Their vision includes a focus on learners exploring and making sense of their world through inquiry. A key contributor to that exciting edifice of science education is 2012 California Science Education Conference Focus Speaker Paul Doherty. (more…)

Opening Keynote Speaker Spotlight: Dr. Helen Quinn

Monday, October 1st, 2012

by Bethany Dixon

Google “genius,” and you’ll get pictures of Albert Einstein. However, to bring genius into your classroom, attend the CSTA Opening Session and listen to Dr. Helen Quinn speak at the Marriot San Jose on October 19, at 9:15 a.m. Dr. Quinn is one of the few to have shared Einstein’s job title: as a theoretical physicist she proposed the near-symmetry of the universe and explained quark-hadron duality. You might say she has a proclivity for solving both large and small problems. To our great fortune she has also channeled her energy into improving science education. Dr. Quinn served as the Chairperson of the 18-member super-team (equally split between science and education experts and including two Nobel Prize winners) responsible for developing, “A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas.”  (more…)

Creating a Life-Work Balance as a New Teacher

Monday, October 1st, 2012

by Amanda L. Smith

Sometimes we’re asked the question, “How hard can teaching really be?” which is often followed with comments like, “I mean, you only have a seven-hour day, and part of that is lunch, recess, and a prep period…and you get tons of holiday breaks, and summers!” These sorts of questions and statements demonstrate that the public doesn’t truly understand the extensive workload that we take home with us each night. Teachers know that we often spend long hours of our weekends with lesson planning, grading papers, and making phone calls and emails to parents, etc. We also have workshops and meetings to attend, committees to serve on, after-school tutoring for our struggling students, detentions to monitor at lunch, grants to write for new technology, and discipline issues to document. With all of these responsibilities, it’s too easy to forget to take care of ourselves. (more…)

The Top 12 Reasons to Attend the California Science Education Conference

Monday, October 1st, 2012

by Rick Pomeroy

12. Everyone who teaches is involved in science education. What better place to get up-to-date, California-focused information, than the California Science Education Conference?

11. There are great room rates at local hotels.

10. There will be a special short course and workshops devoted expressly to teaching science in primary grades (short course requires a ticket).

9. It’s fun.

8. Focus speakers will provide great insights into the science of our everyday lives.

7. Get the most current information about the Next Generation Science Standards.

6. Schmooze and shop with over 70 exhibitors and vendors for the newest cool science stuff.

5. Experience the thrill of sky diving without ever getting into an airplane. (Field course, requires a ticket) (more…)

Congratulations to Dean Gilbert and Josiah Jones

Monday, October 1st, 2012

CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2012 Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, Dean Gilbert, and the 2012 Future Science Teacher Award, Josiah Jones.  The recipients of the awards will be honored at the Awards Breakfast during the 2012 California Science Education Conference in San Jose on October 20, 2012. To purchase tickets for the event, go online today.

Meet the winners:

Many of our readers are familiar with the passion and drive with which Dean Gilbert works for the improvement of science education in California. Not only does he work hard, he has been successful as well. The letters of recommendation for Dean were numerous and glowing. Here are a few excerpts:

Dean has been in the field of education for 38 years. He exemplifies the true meaning of the word “educator”. He served as president of CSTA and is, or has been, the guiding force behind most of the state’s growth in the field of science education. He was also instrumental in developing the state’s high school integrated science education curriculum. (more…)

What is it?

Monday, October 1st, 2012


What is it September Explanation

Monday, October 1st, 2012

It is a grape vine knuckle, the place on a grape vine where it is pruned repeatedly.

Responses from readers:

Cap: Coprolite.

Alice Poulson: Looks like a couple of lichen species on bark.

Paul Detwiler: lichens on tree bark.

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