September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

2014 Call for Workshop and Short Course Proposals

Posted: 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 to get started today.

Conference Strands
The 2014 Long Beach Area Conference is open to all science educators. To help you make the most of the professional development opportunities available at the Long Beach conference, the Conference Committee has planned the conference around three strands that explore hot topics science educators will face in 2014.The conference strands enable you to focus on your specific area of interest or need.
• #NGSS #Implementation
• Science: The Gateway to Common Core State Standards
• STEM Classrooms: Anytime/Anyplace/Anywhere

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I need to be an NSTA member to present?

No, but membership in both CSTA and NSTA are always encouraged and will save you money on registration fees.

What Are the Criteria for Rating Proposals?

The program committee will be looking at the following:

  • Does the proposal clearly describe the session?
  • Is the information provided in the proposal complete?
  • Is the proposed session topic timely/appropriate?
  • Is the proposed session based upon recommended practices?
  • How does the proposed session address the National Science Education Standards?
  • If identified for a particular strand, does the proposed session address the corresponding criteria?

Reviewers will be looking through your whole proposal to check the completeness of the information provided but will focus on your 150-200 word summary to review its content.

TO BE CONSIDERED, SESSION PROPOSALS MUST BE RECEIVED BY THE DEADLINE. Due to space limitations, not all deserving proposals can be accommodated. Reviewers will prioritize proposals based on a balanced program (i.e., science disciplines and teaching levels) as well as the above criteria.

I Submitted My Session Proposal … Now What?

Your session proposal will go to the conference program committee for consideration. Composed of educators of all levels, the committee will review all proposals, determining which to include in the program. NSTA Headquarters will then notify you by mail of the decision regarding your proposal. If your proposal was accepted, you and your co-presenters will each receive a confirmation letter giving the date, time, and place of your scheduled session.

I Received a Confirmation Form. What Should I Do Now?

Read the confirmation form carefully. Your name and affiliation will appear in the program as shown; are they correct? Are the names and affiliations of your co-presenters correct? Did we address your needs for audiovisual equipment correctly? Is your room set-up correct?

Check the facts. Will you be able to be there on the date shown? Are your co-presenters still intending to be there? If all information is correct, please read our safety practices (attached to the e-mail) and reply to our e-mail and answer the safety questions. Remember, only presenters and co-presenters who have indicated compliance with NSTA safety practices can be listed in the final conference program.

If you need a letter to your administrator or supervisor to document your participation as a presenter, please include this information in your e-mail reply.

Can I Cancel a Session?

If you are canceling your session, the Conference Office needs to be informed as soon as possible so that your space can be assigned to someone else. Please e-mail Jo Neville at

Can I Add or Remove Presenters/Presiders?

If you wish to add or remove a presenter or presider, please e-mail Jo Neville at Any new presenters will have to submit their names and contact information. They will receive an e-mail confirmation and they must reply to our e-mail and answer the safety questions.

I Did Not Receive a Response to My Proposal—Why Not?

If you did not receive a response either way from NSTA, there may have been a miscommunication or a problem with your e-mail address.

Session confirmation e-mails s are usually sent by mid-May.

If you have not received an e-mail from the NSTA Conference Department by the above dates, please e-mail our database manager Jo Neville at

How Will My Session Be Listed on the Conference Website and in the Final Conference Program?

Preliminary descriptions of scheduled sessions, including presenters, will be accessible on our website prior to the conference using the conference session browser/personal scheduler.

The final conference program, distributed on-site, reflects the most recent information available as submitted via confirmation e-mails. Presenters and co-presenters who do not send an e-mail reply to their session confirmation e-mail, will not be listed in the final printed program.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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California Science Assessment Update

Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

by Jessica Sawko

In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.

At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Some ways to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in your classroom

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

by Carol Peterson

1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

2016 Award Recipients – Join CSTA in Honoring Their Accomplishments

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference  on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!

Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award

John Keller

John Keller

The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

NGSS: Making Your Life Easier

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Peter A’hearn

Wait… What?

NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?

The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Celestial Highlights, September 2016

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt 

Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.