January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Get Started with NGSS and Common Core

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014


A wave of change is surging through the California K-12 education system. Are you ready to jump on the surf board and ride that wave, or are you running for higher ground?

Join two longtime science education experts—Cynthia Passmore, associate professor at UC Davis and Kathy DiRanna, director of the K-12 Alliance at WestED—for a FREE 90-minute online web seminar on June 17 that will introduce you to the changes coming with Next Generation Science Standards, how NGSS and Common Core will move our students from “knowing about” to “figuring out”, and how “figuring it out” in all science subjects means learning through practices. (more…)

California Primary Election Results: Torlakson and Tuck Head to Runoff in November

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

by Jessica L. Sawko

Yesterday’s June 3, 2014 California Primary Election included voting for State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI). The results are in and this November 4, 2014 current SPI Tom Torlakson will run against Marshall Tuck. The results of the primary election were 46.9% for Tom Torlakson, 28.6% for Marshall Tuck, and 24.4% for Lydia Gutierrez. Torlakson, while falling short of the majority number of votes to avoid a run-off in November, won the majority vote in all but three counties in California, with Lydia Gutierrez winning the majority in Imperial County and Marshall Tuck earning the majority vote in  Madera and San Diego counties (source: California Secretary of State Website retrieved on June 4, 2014 at 9:18 am). If you would like to know more about the candidates and view a debate, please visit the California State PTA website.

CSTA and NSTA Team Up to Provide Professional Development for California Science Educators

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

by Laura Henriques

The end of the school year is almost upon us! As we finish teaching our last units, pack up our classrooms, and send students out to do exciting science and STEM adventures it is time to think about our own professional learning.

The theme for this month’s California Classroom Science is related to summer opportunities for educators and kids. Summertime brings opportunities for us to be in the role of student, letting us learn new things. We have time to reflect on our practice, work with colleagues, and improve what we do. We can read for our own professional growth (if you have not yet read the K12 Framework for Science Education or the NGSS and related appendices summer could be a perfect time for that). We can attend workshops and institutes. Museums and informal science institutions run a wide range of programs. As you peruse the articles in this issue you’ll find just a few of the options available. Look around your area to see what’s offered. You will be surprised to find so many exciting opportunities. County Offices, California Science Projects and other support providers will be hosting workshops and professional learning opportunities to help us become more familiar with NGSS, linkages between Common Core and science, and the role of engineering in our classrooms. See what you can find to help you begin to transition NGSS into your teaching practice.

CSTA has been actively involved in helping create and provide learning opportunities as well. In May we co-led three NGSS Rollout Workshops with colleagues from California Science Project, K12 Alliance/WestEd, County Offices of Education, and the California Department of Education. More than 700 science teacher leaders and administrators from San Joaquin, LA, Orange, Riverside, and surrounding counties attended these workshops. The workshops will be repeated in the fall in other parts of the state (San Diego, Fresno, Redbluff, and the San Francisco Bay Area). You can find out more about the fall workshops on the NGSS Rollout Website.


As part of CSTA’s professional development plan leading up to the Long Beach NSTA Area Conference on Science Education – in Collaboration with CSTA, we are offering webinars and a summer professional development program around NGSS and Common Core. Educators will have the opportunity to participate in a webinar on June 17, a day-long workshop in July (July 21st in Foster City/San Mateo and July 25th in Anaheim). There will be additional webinars in the fall and a culminating experience at the joint conference in December. There are multiple ways for you to participate in these learning experiences. It’s our hope that you’ll be able to do the webinars, the summer workshop and the follow-up at the conference but we know that some of you will only be able to do the summer components (workshop and/or webinars) while others will only be able to attend the workshop in Long Beach. The intention of creating the extended learning opportunity is to allow you time to learn new things, practice them in your classroom and then come back together to expand upon what you learned. The workshops and webinars will be led by Kathy DiRanna and Cynthia Passmore. These two women are fantastic presenters and I know you’ll learn lots by attending! Kathy will help you dig into NGSS and Common Core integrations while Cynthia will be help you explore Science & Engineering Practices and Crosscutting Concepts during the face-to-face workshops. (more…)

Second Common Core/NGSS Implementation Block Grant Is Still Being Considered

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

by Jessica L. Sawko

updated: June 4, 2014, 9:50 am

A major legislative deadline passed in May – one that requires all bills to be passed out of their house of origin (the Senate or Assembly) in order to be considered viable. In addition to all the activity around the individual bills, the state budget for California is currently being negotiated. Governor Brown released his May budget revision on May 13, 2014. His proposed budget does not include any specific funding for Common Core or NGSS implementation.

The Assembly and Senate Budget Committees have also approved their versions of the budget. The three versions vary considerably with respect to Common Core/NGSS Implementation and broadband infrastructure funding, with the Assembly putting forth the boldest proposal (details are below). The budget will now go to Conference Committee where the Assembly and Senate will work out their differences.  (more…)

Middle School Integrated Science – Get Over It

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

by Pete A’Hearn

Okay, let’s face it, you are eventually going to the California integrated middle school progressions under NGSS. Time to get over it and start to plan the path forward. (Note: this is my opinion and not the opinion of CSTA.)

Why am I so sure? Because I have looked at the two possibilities closely and once you have, it’s a no-brainer. Here is the domain specific model: (more…)

Middle School Students Are Part of NASA Mars Missions

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

by Dennis Mitchell

What would you think if a group of 7th grade students had the ability to direct a multi-million dollar spacecraft and its camera at the surface of Mars and acquire an image that helps them and NASA learn more about the planet? What would you think about a group of 8th grade students that could direct the astronauts aboard the International Space Station to take images anywhere on Earth to help them with a science research project? What if those same students could meet with scientists and, in real time, ask them questions that help with their research? Or set up an online Wiki that shows their research project and allows them to post questions directly to NASA scientists and educators? What if those same students are so inspired by their research projects that they don’t meet as a class or receive any grades for their work, rather, they give up time before school, after school, lunch recess, and vacation time to complete their research projects and present their findings “live” over the internet and in person to a panel of NASA scientists? For the last nine years my students have been doing this from the comfort of their classroom on iPads, Chrome Books, or laptop computers through Distance Learning! (more…)

Understanding Global Change August 4–8, 2014

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

by Minda Berbeco

A NEW Summer Institute for environmental science, earth science, and biology middle and high school teachers!

The University of California Museum of Paleontology, together with the National Center for Science Education, will launch a new web resource — Understanding Global Change — at the end of 2014. The resource will provide vetted scientific content, teaching resources, and strategies for K-16 educators to effectively incorporate the complex and critically important topic of global change into existing curricula. (more…)

Summer Science Opportunity for High School Students: College Preparatory Physics, Chemistry, and Biology

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

by Norm Herr

The Summer Academic Enrichment Program at California State University Northridge (CSUN) is offering college preparatory physics, chemistry, and biology this summer.

Program Dates: June 23rd – July 25th 2014

These courses meet the University of California A-G requirements.They have been approved through LAUSD, and therefore all LAUSD high schools are required to accept them as meeting high school graduation requirements.  Other districts should accept them as well.

This is an excellent opportunity for students who want to take college preparatory physics, chemistry, or biology for personal interest, graduation requirements, college preparation or admissions, and/or preparation for Advanced Placement physics, chemistry, or biology.  (more…)

Where’s the Nature of Science in the NGSS?

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

by Larry Flammer

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS, 2013) looks like the best thing that could happen to science education in this country. As long as teachers can be effectively prepared, and students are properly phased in (starting with elementary levels, then into middle schools and high schools), students should be far better prepared for high school and college level work.

However, when you carefully study the NGSS (2013), you will find that one critical topic in science is rarely seen there. Even the Framework (2012) devotes only two pages (78-9) to this topic. And that was because “Many of those who provided comments in an early draft thought that the ‘nature of science’ (NOS) needed to be made an explicit topic or idea. They noted that it would not emerge simply through engaging with practices.” (Framework 2012, p.334). By the way, those two pages in the Framework (2012, pp. 78-79) are rich with specific examples of the NOS. Every teacher should read them carefully. (more…)

What Do I Do Now?

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

by Rick Pomeroy

Congratulations to all of the new teachers who have earned their teaching credentials and who will be entering classrooms for their first year of teaching in the fall.

As classes wind down and your summer looms, you may be wondering, “What do I do now?” Many of my new teachers ask me this question every year so I thought I would share a few of my suggestions: (more…)

Summer Fun and Learning in CSTA’s Region 1

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

by David Pummill

Looking for something to do on a summer weekend? The North State offers many science related activities. Here are some happenings that have come to our attention:

The Gateway Science Museum at California State University, Chico
625 Esplanade (near Bidwell Mansion), Chico CA 95926 Phone: 530-898-4121

Saturday, June 7, 1:00pm – 1:45pm
Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Lassen Peak Eruption
This is a special program that begins at 1pm and lasts 45 minutes. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Lassen Peak’s initial eruptions. These early eruptions caught the attention of the country and set the stage for the area to be designated a national park in 1916. To celebrate this historic event, join National Park Ranger Steve Zachary for a special program on volcanoes of Lassen Volcanic National Park highlighting Lassen Peak. This fun, interactive 45-minute program is for both children and adults. The program also includes some of the historic photographs of the eruptions of 1914 taken by B. F. Loomis. This program is free with cost of museum admission. (more…)

The Happiest Place on Earth Welcomes CSTA Members!

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

by Lisa Hegdahl

Lab materials are safely stored, textbooks are neatly shelved, counters are completely cleared, and the last of your students have left campus.  The classroom seems uncharacteristically quiet as you pick up your personal belongings and head to your car for the final time this school year.  Summer vacation!  Here at last!  And although you know that some of your summer will be spent preparing for the next school year, you also know you need some personal time to refresh and recharge.

Thankfully, you are a proud member of the California Science Teachers Association!  While you are aware of all the work CSTA does to serve science educators across the state, you also know that CSTA realizes how hard you work for your students.  So, beginning in January 2014, members of CSTA not only get all the benefits that help to promote quality science education, but members also enjoy discounts at Disneyland… The Happiest Place on Earth! (more…)

Celestial Highlights for June 2014

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

by Robert C. Victor with twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller

Three planets are still easy to spot in the evening sky for most of June, and two of them are real showpieces, if you happen to have access to a telescope: Jupiter with its four satellites discovered by Galileo, its two dark cloud belts, and Saturn with its spectacular rings. (more…)

Get Ready for October’s Two Eclipses

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

by Robert Victor

There are two eclipses in October 2014. First is a total lunar eclipse in the predawn hours of Wednesday, October 8. (Set your alarm when you turn in for the night on October 7.) Owing to the unfortunate timing of this lunar eclipse during early predawn hours, the event might not be widely seen by elementary school students. (A brief total lunar eclipse on April 4, 2015, centered on 5:00 a.m. PDT, may be somewhat more convenient to observe. The lunar eclipse on the evening of September 27, 2015 will be just about perfect for public viewing in California, with the Moon in partially eclipse as it rises around sunset; in total eclipse during 7:11-8:23 p.m. PDT; and out of the umbra by 9:27 p.m.) (more…)

Call for Presenters – 14th Annual Triangle Coalition STEM Education Conference

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Sustaining STEM: Maintaining the Movement, Widening the Circle
October 8-10, 2014
Washington, DC

STEM is now a much-debated and, perhaps, much-hyped topic for educators, policymakers, and theoreticians. As advocates for STEM education, we must consider whether we’re nearing the zenith of interest in STEM, whether our efforts to expand access to STEM resources is as inclusive as it should be, and what must we do to ensure STEM remains at the forefront of education policymakers’ and problem-solvers’ minds. (more…)

Invitation to Review Green Schools Energy Curriculum

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Through a grant from the National Science Foundation, AAAS Project 2061 has been exploring opportunities to engage middle school students in learning about energy and sustainability in the context of green school buildings. As part of that effort, we have developed an outline for a course that includes 5 units, each one focused on some aspect of energy and its use. Many of the instructional activities in the course ask students to draw on energy usage data from their own schools as they learn about and apply energy ideas. In the final unit students consider how to redesign their school building to increase its energy efficiency and reduce its negative environmental impact. (more…)

CSTA Is Pleased to Announce the Election Results for the 2014-2016 Board of Directors

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Congratulations goes to Jeanine Wulfenstein, Joanne Michael, Susan Gomez-Zweip, Minda Berbeco, and Peter A’Hearn! There terms will begin July 1, 2014 and conclude on June 30, 2016. Information about the 2015-2017 elections will be available in the fall.

Treasurer: Jeanine Wulfenstein

Jeanine has been teaching science for 14 years and currently teaches science at Gardner Middle School in the Temecula Valley USD. This past year she was recognized as the TVUSD middle school teacher of the year. Prior to teaching, Jeanine was an accountant for a major cosmetics manufacturing company. She has presented at several CSTA conferences, served on the 2013 CSTA conference committee, the CSTA publications committee, the legislative oversight committee and is the current CSTA Region 4 Director. (more…)

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