January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

EQuIP Rubric for Science Released

Monday, April 14th, 2014

The Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products (EQuIP) Rubric for Lessons & Units: Science was released April 11, 2014. The Rubric provides criteria by which to measure the alignment and overall quality of lessons and units with respect to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The purpose of the Rubric is to (1) provide constructive criterion-based feedback to developers; (2) review existing instructional materials to determine what revisions are needed; and (3) identify exemplars/models for teachers’ use within and across states.

This document was developed in response to the recognition among educators that while curriculum and instruction will need to shift with the adoption of the NGSS, there is currently a lack of high-quality, NGSS-aligned materials. The power of the rubric is in the feedback it provides curriculum developers and in the productive conversations educators can have while evaluating materials.  (more…)

CSTA Member Phil Lafontaine Retires from State Service

Monday, April 14th, 2014

by Jessica Sawko

On Thursday, April 10, 2014 CDE Staff, friends, and colleagues of CSTA member Phil Lafontaine gathered to celebrate his incredible career as a science educator and state employee of the California Department of Education, and to wish him an enjoyable retirement. There were many CSTA members in attendance to celebrate Phil and his contributions to education, and science education in particular. Phil was presented with several retirement gifts, including a customized San Francisco Giants jersey, and a Senate Resolution honoring his career and service. (more…)

Next Generation Science Standards State Rollout Symposium Dates and Locations Announced

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Updated September 18, 2014

K-12 Alliance/WestEd, California Science Project, California Science Teachers Association, Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee, and the California Department of Education Presents: Next Generation Science Standards State Rollout Symposium #1.

Join science leaders at the first of a series of statewide professional learning symposia exploring the philosophy, design, and initial implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). (more…)

What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate: Evaluating Negotiation in an Elementary Science Classroom

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

by Mason Kuhn

Engaging students in negotiation with their peers is considered a central motivation for recent national policy recommendations (National Research Council, 2011) and has been a focus of much scholarship in science education (e.g. Bergland and Reiser, 2009 & Hand, 2008). In the Next Generation Science Standards under the heading “Science and Engineering Practices,” the term “Engaging in Argument From Evidence” appears in almost every standard. However, most literature on negotiation focuses on theory, where little focuses on the topic of negotiation as related to science teaching and learning. (more…)

NGSS Implementation Rollout – Seeking Teams of Teacher Leaders and Administrators

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

by Laura Henriques
Updated May 14, 2014

This month’s issue of CCS focuses on biology and chemistry. Articles in this issue highlight some of the challenges around teaching these topics as we move towards Common Core and NGSS implementation. Jeanine Wulfenstein points out that the ideas are often abstract and difficult for students to grasp. These topics include a large number of vocabulary words that can get in the way of understanding, especially for English learners and students with special needs. Barbara Woods points out how discrepant events can be used to motivate and engage students by including the wow factor.  Both articles provide us with teaching strategies that engage and support students while incorporating aspects of NGSS and Common Core.

I do not think any of us could teach chemistry (or other abstract topics) without using models (one of the NGSS science and engineering practices). A discrepant event or surprising moment causes us to ask questions (another of the science and engineering practices). These questions are followed by investigations, tentative explanations and more investigations as students and teachers try to make sense of natural phenomena (even more science and engineering practices!). This approach puts the student-developed models to the test. Adjustments need to be made and the model gets refined. As they explain relationships, cause and effect, and try to make sense of the science they are seeing, they are meeting Common Core standards and science standards. (more…)

2nd Annual STEM Symposium Is Now Accepting Proposals

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

The Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation, in cooperation with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and the Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, is proud to bring you the 2nd Annual California STEM Symposium on September 22 and 23, 2014 at the San Diego Convention Center. Call for Presenters – Deadline: Friday, May 30, 2014 (more…)

Primary Science, Common Core, and NGSS

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

by Valerie Joyner and Michelle French

With special thanks to the Tulare County of Office of Education and the K-12 Alliance

Spring is here! And with it comes many opportunities for adding science and NGSS to your Common Core Curriculum! As flowers bloom, snails and spittle bugs emerge, and creeks flow, look around your school and home for science opportunities for your students to explore. It might take some digging or turning rocks over (don’t forget to put them back) and you have instant enthusiasm for a new primary science lesson! (more…)

Looking for Nature in All Kinds of Places

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

by Annette Huddle

The San Francisco Botanical Garden is an unnatural place.

Now there’s a provocative statement –  (more…)

Spring Break is Here!

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

by Jeanine Wulfenstein

Spring has sprung in Region 4! As a result, teachers are honing classroom management strategies and preparations for spring CAASPP pilot testing are in full swing.  There is also much anticipation of the impending changes to curriculum as teachers shift instructional practices to meet the requirements of NGSS and the CCS.

In order to hone instructional practice, educators from across Region 4 met on March 1st at Grossmont College in San Diego for the 23rd annual San Diego Science Educators Association Conference (SDSEA).  (more…)

Meet the Candidates for the 2014-2016 CSTA Board of Directors Election

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

The slate of candidates for the 2014 – 2016 CSTA Board of Directors election was approved by the CSTA Board of Directors at its March board meeting. The elections will open on April 15, 2014. CSTA members who have a membership valid as of April 1, 2014 are eligible to vote in the election. An email will be sent to those members with an email address on file to vote online. For those members who have opt-ed out of email or don’t have an address on file, they will be sent a ballot in the mail.

Please take a moment to learn more about the candidates for the positions of Treasurer, Intermediate (Grades 3-5) Director, 4-Year College Director, Region 2 Director, and Region 4 Director.

Please be sure to participate in the elections, every vote counts!

Cooperative Extension Invites Participation in Day of Science and Service

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

by Steven Worker and Marissa Stein

On May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Smith-Lever Act, which created the world’s first system connecting public higher education with local communities in the pursuit of service to the land and its people. Smith-Lever spawned the Cooperative Extension Service, which strongly tied service, science and citizen participation together in scientific enterprises. (more…)

Allelopathy Lab

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

by Heather Wygant

I am trying this lab in my AP Environmental Science Class, but it could also be used in biology, AP biology or even middles school life science classes.  This lab looks at the properties of allelopathy and has students experiment to discover just how much of a given allelopathic plant is needed to stunt or prevent growth of another plant.  I used mint, California bay laurel, manzanita and eucalyptus. (more…)

Region 2, April 2014

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

by Eric Lewis

April has arrived, and with it warmer weather and excitement about summer! Of course, we’re lucky to be in this part of our state: not only do we have amazing places to hike, swim and paddle, but we have incredible places to further our passions in science and technology. We’re fortunate to have so many incredible opportunities to further our science knowledge in our local communities. Be sure to take advantage of this month’s total lunar eclipse on April 14th (peak time is 12:45 am) and National Park Week (April 19-27 in a National Park near you!).

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. (more…)

Making Life Science and/or Chemistry Instruction Understandable and Accessible for All

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

by Jeanine Wulfenstein, in collaboration with Michael Arroyo

Being a life science or chemistry instructor isn’t always easy.  This is especially true when concepts are abstract and novel vocabulary terms are abundant.  I have been fortunate to work with a team of teachers at the middle school level who are devoted to the task, from teaching our most gifted students to instructing our students with learning challenges.  (more…)

Students Need YOU!

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

by Dena Deck, M.Ed. & Sharon Snyder

Editor’s note: You read about the value of science fairs to students in the March issue (this article was updated this month with an infographic). This article shares information about the biggest science fair around! If you are in the LA area you might want to stop by to see the exciting things our students are doing. If you have a day to donate, consider volunteering. Just as students need support to get to this level of science and engineering, the Science Fair needs lots of help to be successful.

The Intel® International Science and Engineering Fair® (Intel ISEF) is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. It occurs annually and provides a forum for more than 1,600 high school students from over 70 countries, regions, and territories to showcase their independent research and compete for more than $4 million in awards. (more…)

The Meltdown: Using the “Surprise” Factor to Challenge Misconceptions

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

by Barbara Woods 

“No way!” “That can’t be!” “But I thought…” When students experience an outcome that goes against what their own mental construct tells them should happen in the real world, the “surprise” response creates a flurry of brain activity. This makes it easier for students to take on and absorb challenging material.  Although misconceptions about scientific principles often make it difficult for students to fully understand new concepts, using discrepant events in which the “unexpected” occurs encourages students to challenge their own perceptions as they seek to know the “why” behind the experience. (more…)

Bio-Boot Camp

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

by Eric Lewis

The Bay Area is full of opportunities and resources for life sciences. While we have great institutions that highlight the natural world around us, there are also amazing opportunities to enjoy nature at our numerous parks and beaches. Last summer, I helped develop a summer school course for SFUSD students that focused on physiology and leveraged expertise and resources from our local medical school (UCSF), our local CSU (SFSU) and our city college (CCSF). We even included a trip to UC Berkeley during the school year to further reinforce a college-going culture for our students. (more…)

Call for Volunteer Reviewers for the PAEMST Award

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

The California Department of Education is seeking volunteer reviewers. Please consider serving on the committee to select state-level finalists for this year’s Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) program.  The committee will review application materials, which includes a video up to 45 minutes, and select teachers of science as state-level finalists.
Committee members may begin reviewing applications online after May 19, 2014. It is estimated each member will review at most seven applications.  In addition, the committee will meet for a day in June to determine the California finalists for Science.  Travel will be reimbursed and food will be provided.

If you are interested in being a part of the selection committee for this year’s PAEMST Science state-level finalist, please contact Emily Oliva, at PAEMST@cde.ca.gov, by Thursday, April 17, 2014.

A New World Is Coming…Reality Show Casting Call

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Have you ever wanted to create a new society from scratch?

FOX’s new unscripted social experiment series “UTOPIA” is searching for candidates (including science teachers) to create a whole new world. Nationwide casting is now underway and the FOX network is seeking motivated pioneers who have the ideas, skills and determination to create and run an ideal society. (more…)

Thomas Suarez: A 12-Year-Old App Developer

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Video Courtesy of TEDTalks

Opportunity Wanders into the Urban Backyard

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

by Minda Berbeco

This past weekend, my husband came bursting into the house shouting “Turkeys! There are turkeys on the street!”

Now, no doubt this would be a normal occurrence if we lived in a more rural area, near a nature refuge or even a park.  But we actually live in one of the most urban parts of Berkeley, right on the border of an industrial parkway and a major throughway.  Though we certainly get the occasional migrating humming bird and seasonal butterfly in our tiny garden, a turkey was way more wildlife than we were used to seeing.  (more…)

Early Childhood STEM Conference – Call for Proposals

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

The Children’s Center at Caltech (CCC) in collaboration with THINK Together, and The Children & Families Commission of Orange County are sponsoring and hosting another Early Childhood Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (ECSTEM) Conference to promote and increase awareness of the importance of introducing STEM education in early childhood (birth through eight years). The ECSTEM committee is seeking proposals for workshop presentations for its conference to be held at the Hilton Hotel in Costa Mesa, California, on February 5-7, 2015. (more…)

Region 1, April 2014

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

by David Pummill and Marian Murphy-Shaw

As a science educator, or supporter of science education, this article has a list of some events and updates you may want to get on your calendar now! Consider looking at what you can align your resources to support this spring, summer, and next fall. With NGSS science is coming to life in CA we hope you are as excited as we are not to miss the fun!

Calling All Science Teachers – Your Expertise Is Required!

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

The State Board of Education (SBE) is recruiting members of the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC). The CFCC will play a significant role in the revision of the Science Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (Science Framework). The Science Framework will be revised to incorporate and support the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve (CA NGSS), adopted by the SBE in September 2013, and to reflect current research in science instruction. The CFCC provides input into the initial draft of the revised framework in accordance with guidelines approved by the SBE. Click here to access the online application.

What kind of people make up the CFCC and how are they appointed? (more…)

What is it?

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014



Chemicals in Children’s Markers: Short Survey for Teachers and Parents

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

The Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health (CERCH) is collaborating with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) to study children’s exposure to chemical ingredients in markers used in California classrooms and homes.  OEHHA is funding this effort  and providing toxicological expertise.

As part of the project, we are asking for volunteers to complete a brief survey about markers used by children at school or at home. If you are a California teacher or parent with children in preschool through second grade, please complete the survey by clicking on this link and following the instructions: https://berkeleysph.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_40ojp8Q9TLgGuQ5. (more…)

CSTA Represents CA Science Teachers as IQC Moves to Advance ELA/ELD Curriculum Framework to State Board of Education; Gets Preview of Focus Group Report

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

by Jessica Sawko

On Friday, March 28, 2014 the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) met to consider the draft of the ELA/ELD curriculum framework and to receive updates on various other matters including progress on the revision of the science curriculum framework. The IQC Science Subject Matter Committee received their update by Bryan Boyd, Education Programs Consultant in the Instructional Resources Unit of the California Department of Education. Boyd is a CSTA member and was a middle school science teacher in the classroom up until 2013. He provided a recap of the progress made to date on the revision of the Science Curriculum Framework, which included a brief report on the early themes that are emerging as the committee works to compile the information gathered during the focus groups that were held around the state in January and February 2014. These early themes include: (more…)

Teacher Scholarship Available for 2014 Family Nature Summit Monterey Bay, California

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Teachers, apply now for free registration, meals, & lodging to attend the 2014 Family Nature Summit in Monterey Bay, California June 28 to July 4, 2014. The application deadline is May 1, 2014.

The 2014 Family Nature Summit is a national environmental education and outdoor program for folks of all ages.  Founded by the National Wildlife Federation in 1970, now an independently run 501(c)(3) organization, we are offering scholarships for teachers/educators from California to join us at this summer’s 2014 Family Nature Summit, June 28 through July 4! Visit our website at www.familynaturesummits.org to learn more about our program. (more…)

California Forestry Challenge

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

The California Forestry Challenge is a competitive event for high school students in technical forestry and current forestry issues. Using the forest as the classroom, the California Forestry Challenge is project-based learning at its best.

Highlights include:

  • Field Training: Forestry professionals spend time with the students familiarizing them with common tree species, forestry tools, and the use of identification keys. This training serves as a review of information and equipment already sent to teachers during the summer.
  • Field Test: Working as a 2 to 5 person team, students complete a comprehensive field test, which includes identifying and measuring trees, analyzing stand data, and making forest management decisions. The scores from the testing stations are combined, and become 60% of the team’s final score.
  • Current Topic Fieldtrip: Students are presented with a real life topic or situation. They then visit the field to ask questions and collect data. Students also do a service project such as tree planting or invasive weed removal, to give them a “hands-on” forest experience. At the 2012 events, teams created a “recipe” for Giant Sequoia regeneration, helped clarify a management plan for a family forest, and weighed in on a not-yet-approved Timber Harvest Plan. (more…)

Celestial Highlights for April 2014

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

by Robert Victor and  Robert D. Miller

Mars at its closest and brightest, a total lunar eclipse, two asteroids within easy reach of binoculars, and a whole slew of bright stars preparing for their annual departure from the western early evening sky.

April 2014 at dusk 

Southern California viewers, your evening twilight map is available here. Northern California viewers will find your map online.

Jupiter at mag. –2.2 to –2.0 is clearly the brightest evening “star”. Mars, varying from mag. –1.4 to –1.5 to –1.2 in April, briefly equals or slightly outshines Sirius (–1.4) as the red planet passes opposition and closest approach to Earth in the second week. Next in apparent brightness, in a virtual 3-way tie: Arcturus (–0.05) and Capella (+0.08), are high in the sky and well seen, but Vega (+0.03), just rising at month’s end from northern California, is much dimmed by our atmosphere, as is Saturn, also just rising around mid-twilight at month’s end (more…)

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