January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Can’t Find the Money to Attend the CSTA Conference? Your District May Be Able to Help:

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

State Budget Includes $1.25 Billion in One-Time Funding to Support Common Core and New Science Standards Implementation

by Jessica Sawko

As you have probably heard already, the budget signed by Governor Brown at the end of June included $1.25 billion in one-time funding to help districts implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). But what you might have missed is that the language of the trailer bill (a legislative vehicle that accompanies the state budget that describes how budget funds are to be spent) includes the not yet adopted NGSS for California. According to the California Department of Education and per the language of AB 86, Section 85 the funds are to be spent in 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 and can be used for any of three purposes (specific bill language below for reference):

  • Professional development that is aligned to the CCSS, NGSS for California, and/or ELD Standards.  This can be provided for teachers, administrators, paraprofessional educators, or other classified employees directly involved in instruction. (more…)

The School Year Is Quickly Approaching!

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

by Jeanine Wulfenstein

The summer has gone by quickly and soon classrooms across Region 4 will be bustling with energy and excitement in preparation for the upcoming 2013-2014 school year.  With the onset of the new school year, there are new opportunities for personal and professional growth.  For example, much has transpired over the summer with the state board discussion regarding the proposed adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards for California.  As it now stands, the dialog will continue into at least September.  This will allow for exciting and robust discussion forums (Pasadena and Orange County) and increased staff development opportunities in the months to come. (more…)

Legislation and Science Learning in California: What’s going on?

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

The simple answer to the title question: a lot! In fact in conversations with colleagues about the future of California science education, the phrase “a perfect storm” has come up more than once. Depending on the time you’ve budgeted to tune in to policy and legislation activities you may be feeling the full force of the tempest, getting a little wind and drizzle out on the fringes, or sitting in the eye of the storm thinking all is calm.

As a long-standing institution supporting quality science education and the teachers who provide it, CSTA utilizes a number of methods to remain an ever-present voice regarding state educational policy and legislation.  (more…)

CSTA Conference Update

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

by Jim Jones

By now you’ve been making preparations for the upcoming California Science Education Conference this October 25 – 27 in Palm Springs.  We’ve been preparing for you.  There is so much for everyone!  You will have opportunities to participate in many quality events.  Everybody wants to go to Palm Springs, so what better reason to do so than this conference?!

If just the fact that it’s in Palm Springs isn’t enough motivation to get you there, let me tell you about our superb Keynote Speakers.  To open our conference, we have Dr. Stephen Pruitt, the Vice President for Content, Research, and Development for Achieve and leader of the development of the Next Generation Science Standards.  The NGSS are being considered by the State Board of Education and are likely to be adopted.  The conference will be the optimal place to learn about them and prepare your teaching to address them. (more…)

Partial Workshop Schedule Available Online

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

A portion of the workshop schedule for the 2013 California Science Education Conference has been posted online. The workshops that are a part of the Partner Series offered at the conference by the K-12 Alliance, the California Science Project, and the California Environmental Education Interagency Network have been scheduled and are available for viewing online. A current listing of the workshops that will be presented at the conference is available for download. The schedule of workshops will be made available by the middle of August.

The workshops and short courses that will make up the Common Core State Standards strand has also been made available online.  (more…)

Region 2 – News and Events

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

by Eric Lewis

As August is quickly approaching, I’m sitting on a train heading from New York to Boston.  From there I’ll head to Europe for a bit before I return to San Francisco.  Summer will be ending early this year for me as I’ll be going to training on Complex Instruction for a week, and then to San Diego (thanks Region 4!) for training at the San Diego Zoo.  Shortly after that we’ll be gearing up for our own districts professional development days – our first in YEARS to be centralized, content-focused, and provided by the district’s professional development minions. (more…)

The Importance of Early Childhood Science!

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

by Valerie Joyner

First let me introduce myself as your new Primary Director for CSTA.  For the past three years I have been the CSTA’s Director of Region 1, and when the opening for Primary Director came about I quickly sought the position.  I am a retired elementary school teacher whose passion has always been working with young learners and science.  My background includes over 30 years teaching experience both inside the classroom as well as outside in informal science settings. I look forward to sharing my experience and supporting California primary teachers in the coming months. (more…)

Get Outside and Start Collecting Data!

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

by Pete A’Hearn


Photo Credit: Sasha and Maarit A’Hearn

Ahh summer, time to get outside and do field studies.  There are teachers in my district doing field ecology, geology, and marine biology studies this summer. Some of us are taking our own kids camping or to the beach and watching them learn about nature.

One objection I’ve heard to NGSS is that it will mean the end of outdoor science. This objection baffles me. I think this is due to a narrow reading of the standards and the assumption that they are curriculum. It’s imperative to remember they are not the curriculum, but only endpoint goals. I see many places where the NGSS practically requires getting outside to do science! For example… (more…)

With the Uncertain Status of New Standards for California, What Do I Do Right Now?

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

by Rick Pomeroy

“What do I do right now?” Whenever I talk to science teachers about NGSS and the proposed California science standards, this is the first question I get.  With the pending-approval status of new California standards, this is an important and pressing question that needs an answer sooner rather than later. To quell their concerns, my answer is, “Focus on the Science and Engineering Practices.” Although this may seem a bit flippant, in reality it is something that every teacher has control over. It is also a strategy that will resonate with the expectations of the Common Core Standards that are being implemented throughout California this year. (more…)

California State Board of Education Holds Off on Decision on NGSS Adoption

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

by Jessica Sawko

On July 10, 2013 the State Board of Education was presented with the proposed Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade 12. A full video archive of the presentation is available online and embedded here below. The online archive allows you to select Item 2 from the menu below the video window. (Please note that the board meeting was being serviced by a new AV provider and there were a few hiccups technologically during the presentation.) (more…)

Celestial Highlights for August 2013

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

by Robert Victor and Robert D. Miller

At dusk in August, watch Venus slowly close in on Spica and Saturn until pairings on September 5 and 17-18. The best Milky Way viewing occurs on the evenings of July 28-August 9 and August 26-September 7. Get to a dark site by nightfall, and enjoy! The dark moonless predawn hours of August 12 and 13 make this an excellent year for the annual Perseid meteor shower. By mid-August, dawn brings forth the greatest number of bright stars visible simultaneously. (more…)

California Arrangement of Middle School Science Standards – Spurs Production of Rationale Document and Gatherings of Science Teachers

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

On June 28, 2013, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson released his much awaited recommendation for new science standards for California schools. The proposed standards, entitled Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade 12, are based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) released by Achieve on April 9, 2013. California made only a few minor changes to the clarifying statements in the performance expectations that make up the NGSS and arranged the performance expectations for grades 6-8 into specific grades. The decision to allocate the performance expectations to specific grades, rather than adopt them in a grade ban, was a simple one. California is a K-8 adoption state and as such requires specific standards for those grades. (more…)

How to Use One Paper Towel

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Video courtesy of: TedxTalks http://www.youtube.com/user/TEDxTalks?feature=watch

Last Minute Science Idea for the First Day of School

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

by Valerie Joyner

During your travels and/or at home this summer you undoubtedly came across interesting and intriguing object that could inspire your students.  Found objects like corals, shells, rocks, lichens, dry flowers, pine cones, skeletons, worms, and caterpillars make wonderful mini science lessons.

  • Start by showing the object to your students and asking what they think it is.  Record their responses.
  • (more…)

How You Can Become a Leader in California Science Education

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

by Laura Henriques

Two years ago you, the CSTA membership, elected me to serve as President-Elect. Time has flown by and I have now taken over as President. As I start my presidency I am anxious to help you grow as a science education leader at your site, district, region or state. I know that people don’t go from being a solitary classroom teacher to Board Member/President in a single step – there are lots of smaller steps along the way. Especially in light of all of the opportunities and changes facing California science educators at this time, I want to encourage you to consider moving one step forward on your leadership journey. (more…)

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2013 Finalists for Prestigious National Teaching Award

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated five outstanding secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2013 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

The science nominees are Amanda Alonzo (CSTA Member), a biology teacher at Lynbrook High School in the Fremont Union High School District, Santa Clara County; and Scott Holloway, a physics teacher at Westlake High School in the Conejo Valley Unified School District, Ventura County.

Both Amanda and Scott will be provided with a complimentary registration to the 2013 California Science Education Conference in Palm Springs will be honored at the Awards Breakfast during the conference. (more…)

Vernier Launches Its 2014 Engineering Contest

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Vernier honors three STEM teachers who will each receive $5,500 in prizes for innovative uses of Vernier sensors in teaching engineering concepts

BEAVERTON, Oregon, July 30, 2013 – Vernier Software & Technology is now accepting applications for its 2014 Engineering Contest that recognizes STEM educators for introducing students to engineering concepts and practices through innovative uses of Vernier sensors. A middle school teacher, a high school teacher, and a college instructor will each win prizes valued at $5,500.  (more…)

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