January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Toward the Integration of the NGSS and Common Core in the Classroom

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Republished with permission from Achieve

  • Observe how animals build bridges and use those observations to design a solution to avoiding puddles at school.
  • Develop models to explain how plants communicate via chemical cues.
  • Mathematically describe the structure of radio waves that could allow cars to communicate to prevent crashes.

These are just a few components from the model K-12 student tasks being developed by a group of 18 experienced science, math and engineering teachers and administrators. (more…)

Recruiting Focus Group Members for Updating the Science Framework for California Public Schools – K-12

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

The California Department of Education is pleased to announce that it is recruiting members for five focus groups to provide input on the upcoming Science Framework. The Science Framework will incorporate and support the Next Generation Science Standards adopted by the State Board of Education in September 2013. Note: Application closes on December 2, 2013 at 3:00PM PT. (more…)

Instructional Quality Commission Is Seeking Science Teachers – Applications Due November 15

Friday, October 11th, 2013

The IQC has many roles, and science will be its focus in the near future – members with science teaching experience have not been on the IQC for some time and are truly needed now that CA is moving forward with Next Generation Science Standards.

The California State Board of Education (SBE) is now accepting applications for practicing science teachers to serve on the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC). This high-level commission is responsible for advising the SBE on matters related to curriculum and instruction. The IQC (1) develops and recommends curriculum frameworks; (2) develops and recommends criteria for evaluating instructional materials submitted for adoption; (3) evaluates instructional materials that have been submitted by publishers and makes recommendations to adopt or reject each submission; (4) recommends policies and activities to the SBE, the California Department of Education (CDE), and local education agencies regarding curriculum and instruction; and (5) advises and makes recommendations to the SBE on implementing the state’s academic content standards. Applications are due 5:00 pm, November 15, 2013. (more…)

New Grant Opportunity for High School Teachers Working with Robots and STEM Education

Friday, October 11th, 2013

Aldebaran Robotics and Kids Talk Radio would like to help you become the recipient of up to $50,000 from a Specialized Secondary Programs (SSP) grant being offered by the California Department of Education.

Eligibility for this grant is limited to all comprehensive public high schools, continuation high schools, county offices of education, consortium of school districts, and theme-based public high schools. The SSP is expected to develop new standards-based model curriculum and provide varied instructional methodologies or organizational structures that promote advanced in-depth study of STEM subject areas. Programs selected for funding are structured so that participating students explore areas of study in a deeper way while developing knowledge and skills that will prepare them for post-secondary education and careers. The SSP funds must be spent for a new program or school rather than for maintenance of an existing program at a high school.  (more…)

The Exploratorium Offers Complimentary Field Trip Admissions for California Title I Public School Students

Friday, October 11th, 2013

PG&E-sponsored program aims to reach more than 60,000 underserved students by 2016

The Exploratorium and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) on October 10, 2013 announced a partnership to give California Title I schools the opportunity to visit the hands-on museum of science, art, and human perception for free through the Free Admission Program. Title I is a federal program that provides funding to local school districts to improve the academic achievement of students who are underserved and often underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields. Since registration opened in May 2013, over 45 Title I schools have signed up to visit the Exploratorium as part of the Free Admission Program. The program will run through August 2016, and will potentially reach more than 60,000 Title I students. (more…)

Governor Brown’s Signs Key Education Legislation – Updated 5:00 pm, 10/3/13

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

by Jessica Sawko

Updated 5:00 pm, October 3, 2013

For the past few months CSTA has been closely tracking the progress of two key education bills, SB 300 (Hancock) and AB 484 (Bonilla). On October 2, 2013, Governor Brown signed both of them.

SB 300 authorizes the commencement of the development of the new curriculum framework for science based on the recently adopted Next Generation Science Standards. The timeline set forth in the bill calls upon the State Board of Education to adopt the new framework by January 31, 2016. This means that work to produce the framework will commence sometime towards the end of this year. Without the passage of SB 300, work on a new science framework would not have been able to commence until the 2015/2016 school year. In addition to starting the framework development process, SB 300 requires that the new science framework include English language development strategies, and strategies to address the needs of pupils with disabilities.

AB 484 is a much larger bill that recently received Federal attention. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan released a statement on September 9, 2013, threatening to withhold funding from California if AB 484 was passed in the latest iteration. (more…)

State Board Adopts NGSS – Delays Decision on Middle School – Now What?

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

by Jessica Sawko

A new era of science education in California is now in the horizon. For many years CSTA has been advocating for new, high-quality science education standards that emphasize depth of understanding over surface knowledge, engage students in doing science, and foster critical thinking, and last month, those many years of hard work finally paid off. At approximately 4:00 pm on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 the California State Board of Education (SBE) voted unanimously to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for California. The vote was followed by an outburst of applause and cheers from those in the audience.

The matter of the Next Generation of Science Standards for California is not completely settled. (more…)

“Women in STEM careers” October calendar now online

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

This month the State Library’s online calendar features five remarkable women in California who have made a difference in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

We begin the month with an engineer, Judy Nottoli, who has spent her career tackling air quality issues and now helps public schools and local governments reduce their carbon footprint. (more…)

National Assessment Governing Board Seeks Nominees to Fill Five Open Positions

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

At a time of increasing demand for high standards in education, America’s students need wise leadership now more than ever. That’s why the Governing Board seeks qualified and passionate individuals to help carry out its work as an innovative leader in educational assessment.

The independent, bipartisan Governing Board determines the content and achievement levels for all assessments conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as The Nation’s Report Card. Those decisions are among many policy responsibilities for which we need the involvement of thoughtful and committed leaders. (more…)

CSTA Member Appointed as Director of Assessment Development and Administration Division at CDE

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

On September 5, 2013 State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced the promotion of Diane Hernandez as Director of the Assessment Development and Administration Division. Hernandez has moved up through the ranks over 12 years in CDE’s Assessment Development and Administration Division. She served as the manager of the High School and Physical Fitness Assessment Office, and as a consultant in the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program Office. Prior to working at CDE, she taught mathematics and science for 20 years and provided professional development for a national company. She earned an undergraduate education degree from California State University, Sacramento, and a graduate degree in mathematics and science from Fresno Pacific University. She also holds a Teaching Credential. Hernandez started her new position August 30. Diane Hernandez is a long-time member of CSTA. Congratulations Diane!

New Research: Just What Are the Benefits of Science Projects?

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

For decades, science projects and science fairs have been as much a part of school lore as book reports and dodge ball. Yet little research has been conducted into the impact these projects make on the education of the student participants.

In 2012, the Synopsys Outreach Foundation hired WestEd, a preeminent educational research firm, to conduct an in-depth survey of students who have participated in foundation-supported activities. Since its creation in 1999, the Synopsys Outreach Foundation has supported more than 1 million individual science project experiences. We provide science project support to teachers at more than 600 California schools annually and serve as the major sponsor of the Santa Clara County, Sonoma County, and Sacramento Regional science fairs. (more…)

FINESSE Comes to 2013 CSTA Conference – Limited # of Stipends Available

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

by Rick Pomeroy

At the 2013 California Science Education Conference, through a collaboration between CSTA, the Faculty Institutes for NASA Earth and Space Science Education (FINESSE), and the Center for Astronomy and Physics Education Research (CAPER), we will be offering a four-session institute designed to equip faculty to engage their students in modeling and inquiry as described in the NGSS. Participants who sign up for and complete all four sessions will be eligible for a $250 stipend. The workshops are particularly designed for faculty who work with preservice teachers, but the activities are appropriate and applicable for middle school and high school teachers. (more…)

Book Review: Napolean’s Buttons

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

by Walter O’Brien

Napoleon's Buttons Book CoverThe history of witch-hunts throughout Europe and North America during the 17-century has been well documented. Students across the United States have been taught that witch-hunts stem from a gamut of reasons such as religion and land acquisition. Yet in reality, witch-hunts served as a scapegoat for illnesses and/or natural disasters that were inexplicable at the time. Individuals accused of witchcraft included men, women and children, outcasts or prominent members of society and they consequently faced great danger and were often tortured. In certain recorded situations, those accused of witchcraft were tossed into a body of water and if the accused drowned, they would be deemed innocent; however, if the accused managed to float they would be pronounced guilty and punished further. (more…)

Science Geek Vacation – Be There!

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

by Rick Pomeroy

In the last issue of CCS, Greg Potter shared some ideas about how to become the best science teacher that you can be. His recommendation that you attend professional conferences is a great one and, luckily, the next opportunity is right around the corner. On October 25-27, CSTA will be hosting the California Science Education Conference in Palm Springs. If you have never been to a science teachers’ conference, this one is going to offer you more in three days than many methods classes can offer in a full quarter or semester. To sweeten the deal, there is a special reduced price for CSTA Student Member conference registration. (more…)

Focus Speaker Emmett McQuinn

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

by Robert de Groot

Learn about how the tools of information technology are allowing us to visualize complex phenomena such as earthquakes and the delicate intricacies of brain function. We are fortunate to have award winning computer scientist Emmett McQuinn, Software Engineer at IBM Research – Almaden, as a focus speaker at this year’s conference. (more…)

Exciting Times for Science Education

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

by Laura Henriques

These are exciting times for science education in California! On September 4, 2013 the California State Board of Education approved the adoption of Next Generation Science Standards for our K-12 classrooms. In a couple of weeks science educators from around the state will be gathering together in Palm Springs for CSTA’s 2013 California Science Education Conference. CSTA is actively involved in helping articulate how NGSS will come to fruition in our schools and classrooms and throughout the process we will do our best to keep you informed, gather input from our members, and share that information with the appropriate parties. We want to help ensure that you have the information and professional development you need to make a smooth transition from our current standards to Next Generation Science Standards. Additionally, we will continue to share opportunities for you to be more personally involved (e.g. providing feedback to the State Board of Education, applying for positions on committees and commissions, joining NGSS listserv, etc.). (more…)

Awards Breakfast Speaker

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Sumida-Headshotby Pete A’Hearn

What do dinosaurs, cartoons, and theme park rides have in common? How does what you eat determine how you are shaped? How can paleontology help you design a character? Come to the awards breakfast with noted paleontologist and Hollywood consultant Dr. Stuart Sumida and find out the answers to these questions and others. Dr. Sumida is always a fun and wide ranging speaker. At the breakfast he will explore the close connections between the arts and science and how they can be used to engage students. Tickets are only $30 and include a hot breakfast.

Where Is the Giant Tower?

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Jenga Tower

2012 California Science Education Conference attendee builds a tower with Jenga-style blocks at the Tech Museum in San Jose, CA. Photo by Lisa Hegdahl

While at the 2013 California Science Education Conference in Palm Springs, October 25-27, be sure to stop by the California Science Teachers Association booth. Not only can you join CSTA, renew your current membership, and find out information about next year’s conference, this year there is something new! Inspired by a popular exhibit at the Tech Museum during last year’s Conference in San Jose, there will be giant Jenga-style blocks at the CSTA booth. Build the tower and test your nerves while using your knowledge of load, tension, compression, and rotational equilibrium. The challenge is on!

Visit “Jenga Tips” on eHow

for some ideas to build a successful tower.

Additional resource: Ross, Dave, “5 Things Jenga Can Teach Us About Structural Engineering”, Science.HowStuffWorks. September 18, 2013

Astronomy Night at #CSTA13

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

by Jim Jones

There is a little “Amateur Astronomer” in all of us. Anytime we look up into the night sky we start to wonder what’s up there. There are wonders to behold during the day and night. Saturday at the California Science Education Conference will offer many opportunities to learn about the sky above us. Join Dr. Robert Victor* at 5:15 a.m. for pre-dawn stargazing, at 8 a.m. for high-contrast moon observations, and at 3 p.m. to observe the planet Venus in its gibbous phase.

Not only do we provide these great activities during the daylight hours, we will also give you fun and educational activities during the evening hours. One of these is Astronomy Night on Saturday, starting at 7 p.m. The Astronomical Society of the Desert will be on hand to provide telescopes and share their expertise to enhance your viewing of the night sky. Feel free to roam between telescopes and behold the wonders of the heavens. (more…)

Celestial Highlights for October: Follow the Moon!

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

by Robert Victor and Robert D. Miller

Follow the Moon each day at dusk or dawn, and within one cycle it will introduce you to as many as five naked-eye planets and the five bright stars of first magnitude within the belt of zodiac constellations.

New Moon occurs on Oct. 4. Two days later, on Sunday evening, Oct. 6, about 20 minutes after sunset, a thin sliver of a young lunar crescent will appear very low in the west-southwest, 20° to the lower right of the bright “evening star”, Venus. (more…)

Focus on Focus Speaker Chris Lowe

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Chris LoweYou have seen him on Shark Week. You have seen him on National Geographic. Now you get to see him live! Dr. Chris Lowe is the director of the CSULB SharkLab © at California State University, Long Beach. He and his students have conducted a wide range of research about shark, fish and ray behavior including studies of the physiological and behavioral responses of fish during catch & release, movement patterns and home range sizes of sharks, game fish and rays, and tagging programs. (more…)

Calling All Videographers!

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

by Valerie Joiner

CSTA would like to extend an invitation to all videographers to personally participate in California Classroom Science’s monthly newsletter feature “Science Video of the Month”. In past issues we have provided you with videos and links to science related videos. Now we are asking for you to share your talents or the video talents of your students with our members. Perhaps you have an exciting video lesson to share, or a student video project explaining a science concept or practice, or an end-of-unit review video. Or, you plan to team-up with a colleague who teaches technology or social studies to have your students develop science-related videos. Here is your opportunity to share your talents! We look forward to your submission! (more…)

Region 4 News and Events: Fall is Here!

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

by Jeanine Wulfenstein

The weather in region four has become crisp and cool… the winds are picking up… fall is here! Teachers and students across the region are settled into classrooms and are hunkering down with their curriculum. Educators are busy analyzing best practices for the implementation of the Common Core Standards and the impact the standards have on science instruction. CSTA, along with several county office of education in region 4, have hosted events to engage educators in the dialog about the newly adopted Next Generation Science Standards and what that means for instruction. (more…)

Get Your NGSS Engineering on at #CSTA13!

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

by Pete A’Hearn

One of the biggest opportunities (and challenges) of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) will be integrating engineering into science classes. Come get started in the chillest way possible at the Friday night STEM pool party! Tickets are just $10 and include $10 worth of food during the event.

CSTA is working with the Math Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) program at the UC Riverside Bourns School of Engineering to bring you a pool party and cardboard boat engineering challenge. Sign up a team to design, build, and race your boat. Test your small-scale prototypes in the kiddie pool and go deep on your understanding of Archimedes’s Principal. MESA will have lots of information about how to get started in engineering. (more…)

Missing Science Majors

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

by Bethany Dixon

Why aren’t our best science students considering science majors? Out of my team of three State Science Fair awardees, only one is enrolled in a science class his senior year. The other two seniors are bright and interested in research but they didn’t want to take the chance that a difficult AP science course could damage their transcripts in their senior year. They’re tough courses and GPA matters for admissions. (more…)

Region 2 – News and Events for October 2013

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

by Eric Lewis

I hope that your school year has been off to a great start. I also hope that you can take advantage of some of the great science opportunities in our region this month!

The Next Generation Science Standards have arrived in California and now we need to get to work. In my district, as I’m sure is true in yours, there is a mixed response to the NGSS from fanatical excitement to tempered indifference. I myself think that these standards are going to be amazing not only because they emphasize a whole different kind of science teaching and learning, but also because they connect so wonderfully to the CA Common Core Standards in ELA and Mathematics. Of course, I think in order to really make the changes that we want in education, we’re going to need to support a different structure for schools – especially high schools. We will need more time to work with our colleagues in other disciplines to ensure that we’re utilizing the tools provided in our standards. How else will we be able to weave these standards together? I hope that we see some new innovations in school structures over the next few years to help teachers to meet the challenges and opportunities that these new standards provide.  (more…)

Inspiring Scientists of All Ages

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

by Rebecca Smith

* originally published by MediaPlanet.com, reused with permission

A national festival pairs curious students with STEM professionals to celebrate and explore the world of science.

A national festival pairs curious students with STEM professionals to celebrate and explore the world of science.

When I was six, I fell in love with science. Visiting a friend one day in rural Indiana, her mother, an artist, showed us how to see onion skin cells using a microscope. A whole world opened up to me and I was hooked. Liking science became a part of my identity even though I had never met a scientist nor had I studied science in school. (more…)

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