January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces State Approves Middle Grade Recommendations for Modern Science Standards Science Expert Panel to Reconvene and Consider Additional Model

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

November 6, 2013 Press Release from the California Department of Education:

SACRAMENTO—California’s move to modern new science standards took another step forward as the State Board of Education approved a preferred model for middle grade learning progressions, which integrate science instruction, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today. (more…)

Superintendent Torlakson’s First Annual California STEM Symposium Aims to Propel CCSS and NGGS Implementation

Monday, November 4th, 2013

by Jennifer Kern and Valerie Joyner

As California prepares to implement both Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards it is more important than ever that our state’s science teachers are equipped with best practices, ideas and strategies to bring high-quality STEM education to life in the classroom. That’s why State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson is convening the first annual California STEM Symposium on November 18 & 19 at the Sacramento Convention Center. (more…)

Call for Nominations for the 2014-2016 CSTA Board of Directors

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementation planning for the Next Generations Science Standards and finalizing its new strategic plan. If you are interesting in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration.

Nominations for the following positions on the CSTA Board of Directors are now being accepted:

Directors will serve a two-year term beginning July 1, 2014, and ending June 30, 2016. (more…)

NGSS in California Update

Monday, November 4th, 2013

by Jessica Sawko

On September 4, 2013 the California State Board of Education adopted the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools. The board adopted grade specific standards for grades K-5 and grade span standards for grades 6-8 and grades 9-12. During its meeting this Wednesday, November 6, 2013, the State Board of Education will take up the issue of how to arrange the standards in grades 6-8 (see Item #6). Based on letters and emails received along with public comment provided during the September meeting, it is clear that there is a great deal of division in the science education community regarding how best to arrange the standards for middle school science. (more…)

2014 Call for Workshop and Short Course Proposals

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Long-Beach-Fall-Conf-newIn 2014 CSTA is partnering with the National Science Teachers Association to produce the NSTA Long Beach Area Conference in Collaboration with CSTA! (There will be no California Science Education Conference in October 2014.) The event will be held December 4-6, 2014 at the Long Beach Convention Center. Proposals for workshops and short courses are now being accepted. The deadline for submitting a proposal is January 15, 2014. Visit http://www.nsta.org/conferences/sessions.aspx to get started today. (more…)

2013 California Science Education Conference Sees Highest Registration Numbers in Five Years

Monday, November 4th, 2013

by Jessica Sawko

The 2013 California Science Education Conference was held in beautiful Palm Springs this past October 25 – 28, 2013. Nearly 1,800 science teachers attended the event, drawing the largest crowd the conference has enjoyed in the last five years. There was a big rush to register in the end, with 1/3 of all registrations being received after the advance registration cutoff date of October 7. Exhibitors enjoyed the positive energy and good traffic past their booths, attendees crowded workshop rooms and sold out many short courses and field courses. CSTA extends its thanks to the schools and districts that supported the participation of their educators and the educators who funded either entirely or in part their participation in the conference. The time and money spent at the conference were a good investment in your professional development. If you were able to join us at the conference, please complete the conference evaluation online. If you are looking for handouts from a workshop you attended, a list of workshops whose presenter have provided handouts for CSTA to post online is available here. (more…)

Congratulations Award Winners

Monday, November 4th, 2013

CSTA and the California Department of Education honored three amazing science educators at the annual Awards Breakfast at the 2013 California Science Education Conference in Palm Springs. During the event, the following educators were honored:

Tania Hughes, 2013 Future Science Teacher Award Winner

Tania Hughes

Tania Hughes

Tania is currently serving as a teacher in the Peace Corps in Mozambique. Tania was a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential candidate at CSU Long Beach. During her time at Cal State Long Beach she spearheaded and designed two science units which she taught during her student teaching:  Fourth Grade Electricity and Magnetism and Second Grade Geology; (more…)

Major (G5-12) STEM Opportunity for School Districts – Student Spaceflight Experiments Program — Mission 6 to the International Space Station

Monday, November 4th, 2013

by Dr. Jeff Goldstein 

The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education, and NanoRacks announce Mission 6 to the International Space Station. This STEM education opportunity immerses grade 5-12 students across a community in an authentic, high visibility research experience, where student teams design and propose real microgravity experiments to fly in low Earth orbit on the International Space Station. The program nurtures ownership in learning, critical thinking, problem solving, navigation of an interdisciplinary landscape, and communication skills – all reflective of the Next Generation Science Standards, and reflective of the skills needed by professional scientists and engineers, and the skills desired by 21st century employers.  (more…)

What (or Who) Is Chaos? The Problem with Scientific Words

Monday, November 4th, 2013

by David Pummill 

My granddaughters have a cousin named Chaos. They asked me what his name means and the teacher in me prompted me to ask, “Did you look it up?” This resulted in dragging out the huge dictionary and we discovered that “chaos” can have many definitions. In fact, many words have a specialized meaning in science contexts that is quite different than their meaning in everyday use.  (more…)

Making the Case for Change

Monday, November 4th, 2013

by Jill Grace

Earlier this month I came across an article by the editorial board of the New York Times.  It summarized some recent findings from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Survey of Adult Skills (OECD).  The study measured adult proficiency in literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in information-rich environments. Arguably, these skills are at the heart of a world becoming more and more technologically advanced. This study, as you may have guessed, is yet another one showing we (Americans) are missing the mark.  What is especially poignant about this particular study, however, is that it provides data showing it is not just school-aged children falling behind their international counterparts, but working-aged adults as well.  Now, we can spend hours debating the quality of the study and its methods but at the end of the day it’s yet another study suggesting Americans currently have poor skills and, worse yet, that we aren’t improving.  (more…)

Volunteer to Review the 2014-15 Albert Einstein Fellowship Applications

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Triangle Coalition for STEM Education is seeking individuals to assist in the peer review of the 2014-15 candidate applications for the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program. The Albert Einstein Fellowship brings experienced and distinguished K -12 educators in fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to serve an 11-month fellowship appointment in a Federal agency or U.S. Congressional office. Selected fellows bring their extensive knowledge and experience in the classroom to inform Federal STEM education programs and/or STEM education policy. (more…)

Greening by Example 2013 Green Schools Summit & Expo

Monday, November 4th, 2013

The seventh annual Green California Schools Summit and Exposition will take place at the Pasadena Convention Center on November 6-7. Developed under the leadership of an Advisory Board chaired by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and State Architect Chet Widom, the Summit is the state’s largest annual event focused on green programs in California Schools. (more…)

Teaching STEM with Little to No Budget

Monday, November 4th, 2013

by Jeanine Wulfenstein

Have you found yourself being asked to implement STEM practices into your curriculum with little to no funding?  Are you confused about what STEM is, or what teaching STEM really means?  You are not alone!  Many teachers across California and the nation are being asked to teach STEM without much background, support, training, or funding.   (more…)

Great CSTA Conference! What’s Next?

Monday, November 4th, 2013

by Laura Henriques

What a wonderful CSTA conference in Palm Springs at the end of October! Conference Chairs Peter A’Hearn and Jim Jones and their conference committee did a fantastic job putting together an educational, engaging, and enjoyable event. The conference included 175 workshops, five field trips, six focus speakers, and a dozen short courses. We kicked off the entire conference with Dr. Stephen Pruitt of Achieve talking about NGSS. We had a Flinn Scientific Dynamic Demonstrations event on Friday evening.

Boat Race Team Photo

Team of teachers showing their team spirit during the construction phase of the Cardboard Boat Challenge.

This was followed by a STEM Pool Party, complete with cardboard boat competitions, stomp rockets, music and mingling. It was fun to see colleagues building boats, launching rockets, and enjoying each other.  For early birds and night owls we had both morning and evening star gazing events on Saturday. Our Awards Breakfast speaker, Dr. Stuart Sumida, gave a great STEM/STEAM talk as he shared his experiences as a biologist teaching animators about anatomy and physiology as he works alongside them when they create films. Closing session speaker, Dr. Laurence Smith from UCLA, gave an interesting integrated talk about global climate of the northern hemisphere in 2050.

Among the most popular sessions over the weekend were the many about NGSS. (more…)

Starting a Robotics Club with Students at the Helm

Monday, November 4th, 2013

by Tamara Araya

It all started off with an email forwarded from my principal and it read, “Any of you interested in starting a robotics team?  If so, respond to the email below.”  The attached email was from a district employee, Kathy, whose husband and son recently started a robotics club at their high school.  The email asked, “Why hasn’t anyone started a robotics club in our district?”  There are six major high schools in our district and not one had a robotics club, so I naively replied with great enthusiasm, “I would love to!”  Did I mention that I have a biology credential and absolutely no robotics background what so ever?  (more…)

Lesson Plan: Ornamental Corn Inquiry (Grades K-2)

Monday, November 4th, 2013

by Valerie Joyner 

Ornamental corn

Ornamental corn

Ornamental corn, available this time of year, is great for setting up an inquiry activity for your primary (K-2) students to explore.  If the weather in your part of California is still warm, you can begin this activity right away.  However, due to the size and diversity of weather conditions around California, you may need to purchase a few ears of ornamental corn now and save the activity until the spring when the weather warms up.  (more…)

Student Opportunity in Region 2

Monday, November 4th, 2013

San Francisco Bay Area high school students are invited to participate in an exciting, challenging, and fun-filled event: The 2014 Brain Bee. There are two locations for the local competition; students can select which one they wish to participate in:

  • Stanford Brain Bee to be held on Saturday, January 18, 2014, from 1:00pm–5:00pm, at Stanford University, or
  • East Bay Brain Bee to be held on Sunday, January 19, 2014, at Cal State East Bay

What is the Brain Bee?  (more…)

Squid Dissection

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Celestial Highlights for November

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

by Robert Victor and Robert D. Miller

The full November 2013 Sky Calendar is available online at http://www.pa.msu.edu/abrams/skycalendar/NovSC13.pdf.

A common, yet often striking event, is the monthly pairing of Venus and the crescent Moon. In the closing 10 weeks of Venus’ current evening apparition, pairings will occur at dusk on Nov. 6, Dec. 5, and on Jan. 1 and 2. The pairing at dusk on Thursday, Dec. 5 will be very impressive, because around that date, Venus will attain its greatest brilliance and highest position in the evening sky. That afternoon, the Moon can even help the observer spot Venus as they move together across the daytime sky.  (more…)

Region 4 Is All Shaken Up!

Friday, November 1st, 2013

by Jeanine Wulfenstein

In October, schools across region 4 practiced their earthquake preparedness strategies.  In order to practice for the next large earthquake, “The Great California Shake Out” was held on October 17th, 2013 at 10:17 am.  Educational professionals joined students and community members to practice recommended earthquake safety actions including dropping to the ground, taking cover under a sturdy desk or table, and holding onto their shelter until the shaking stops.   Everyone was reminded that a crawling position is the best way to protect your vital organs and to be prepared to move if and when necessary.  Through practice, our schools and community are one step closer to effectively managing this type of emergency situation.

Region 4 fall spirit is also alive and well at the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana. Along with Cal State Fullerton, the Center is hosting a free Pumpkin Launch family event on November 2nd.  The day promises to be filled with entertainment, hands-on activities, and of course, flying pumpkins!  Scheduled activities include Marshmallow mayhem, Archimedes floating lab, a catapult shoot-out, reaction rockets, medieval battle camp, and Da Vinci’s flight school.  The fun starts at 10:00 a.m. will run until approximately 1:30 p.m.  Be sure to bring your lawn chair and a carved pumpkin for the pumpkin carving contest.  An array of gourmet food trucks will also be there to please your palate. Other upcoming events at the Discovery Science Center include: (more…)

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