January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Get Ready for December’s NSTA/CSTA Joint Conference!

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

by Laura Henriques

This year’s NSTA Long Beach Area Conference is being hosted in collaboration with CSTA. There are all sorts of exciting events planned for the conference and we hope you’ll be with us to take advantage of all of them!

The official conference is December 4-6, 2014 but there are will be two full-day field trip options on Wednesday, December 3rd. There will be an array of field trips and short courses as part of the conference. The field trip choices include The Science in your Beer: Chemistry, Microbiology, and Sensory Analysis at Smog City Brewing, Up Close & Personal with Ocean Critters: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, Slip-Sliding Away: a Palos Verdes Geology Tour, Looking to the Future: Visiting the Endeavour Space Shuttle and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Journey into Space at the City of Downey, Columbia Memorial Space Center, and Wet & Wild Adventures with the Southern CA Marine Institute. (more…)

Speak Out for Science – Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) Regulations Need Stronger Support for All State Standards

Monday, July 14th, 2014

CSTA and others are requesting that the State Board of Education change the language used to describe the “Implementation of State Standards (Priority 2)” so that all subjects, including science, are addressed in the LCAP.

On Thursday, July 10, CSTA addressed the California State Board of Education to seek a change to the State Board approved LCAP (Local Control Accountability Plan) template. This change will serve to clarify for districts and stakeholders that the state’s priority #2 should address all state adopted standards, including science, and not just Common Core. A quick review of the LCAPs submitted for approval by county offices of education reveals that many districts approached addressing priority #2 as only the implementation of English and Mathematics Common Core Standards. Missing or lacking from many plans is support for the recently adopted Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for California.    (more…)

NGSS Implementation Update

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

by Jessica Sawko

The following provides updates on the status of various aspects of implementing the Next Generation Science Standards in California. Topics covered are statewide assessments for science, curriculum framework development, and NGSS professional learning opportunities.


July 15 – 18, 2014 two two-day meetings of science education stakeholders will be held in Sacramento to start the process that was set forth in legislation (AB 484) last year to develop new statewide assessment for science that will comply with federal assessment requirements and align with the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools. The participants of the stakeholder meeting are California science teachers, individuals with expertise in assessing English learners and pupils with disabilities, parents, and measurement experts. There will be several CSTA members serving as participants in the stakeholder meetings. Our thanks goes to those members who answered CSTA’s call for volunteers and are committing two days of their summer to participate in these important meetings.


CSTA Says Good-Bye and Thanks to Board Members

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

by Laura Henriques

I would like to use this month’s column to publicly thank our outgoing Board Members. Our spring elections bring new faces and talent to the CSTA Board, but that means we also say good-bye to some colleagues.

There are five Board members whose term just expired, four of whom will be leaving the Board. Their last official Board Meeting was June 14th but we look forward to their continued involvement in CSTA. We also appreciate all that they have done for CSTA.

Heather Wygant joined the Board in 2008. She was fresh from Texas, where she’d been active with STAT (Science Teachers Association of Texas). She served two terms as the CSTA High School representative and one term as Treasurer. She brought us ideas from the Lone Star State and enthusiasm for all things science (especially earth science). While she is officially leaving the Board, Heather will stay active with CSTA serving on the NGSS Committee and the Electronic Communications Committee. Jeanine Wulfenstein, middle school science teacher in Temecula Valley Unified School District, is taking over Heather’s position as Treasurer. (more…)

2014/2015 California State Budget Deal Includes Funding for Standards Implementation, Science Assessment, and Science Framework Development

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

by Marian Murphy-Shaw and Jessica Sawko


The 2014/2015 California State Budget passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Brown includes $400.5 million that the legislature intends for use on Common Core, NGSS, and ELD implementation (including PD for teachers, instructional materials, and technology supports). However, the use of these funds for this purpose is not mandatory. In addition to this funding, $4 million is being allocated for NGSS assessment, $493,000 in one-time Federal Title III funds are appropriated for the purpose of linking English language development (ELD) standards with academic content standards for mathematics and science, and finally $270,000 is appropriated to the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) to review and revise, as necessary, the history-social science framework and develop a revised curriculum framework and evaluation criteria for instructional materials in science based on NGSS. (more…)

Middle School Madness: The Integrated or Discipline Specific Choice

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

by Robert Sherriff

As a middle school science teacher for the past 23 years, I am very interested in the implementation the Next Generation Science Standards. I was proud to be one of only two middle school teachers (along with one 6th grade self contained teacher who also represented the middle school grade span) on California’s Science Expert Panel (SEP) for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

In this context, I’d like to address the debate between the NGSS integrated model or alternative model for middle school (K-5 is required to be integrated). I started with the many of the same concerns that middle school teachers have expressed with an integrated model. (more…)

Dark Sky Festival at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

by Tara Hostnik

The night sky in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is nationally recognized. Our darkness not only adds to the aesthetic qualities of the wilderness, but is important to the health of our wildlife. This summer the Sequoia Natural History Association will be organizing a first ever Dark Sky Festival set for July 25-27, 2014. The event aims to educate visitors about the importance of this park resource and inspire them to take action in their own community. We hope you join us and share your passion for the night sky and astronomy during this fun weekend. (more…)

The Molecularium® Project and NanoSpace® Ready to Use Tools for the New School Year

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

by Patrice Harris

Despite what many believe, the summer break is not all play for educators. We understand that you begin planning for fall now. As you develop your curriculum for the upcoming year, we encourage you to explore Rensselaer’s Molecularium® Project and its interactive website, NanoSpace®. The project was created by world-renowned scientists at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Nanotechnology Center. (more…)

High-Quality Science Resources from Public Media: America’s Largest Classroom

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

by Andrea Aust

If you use multimedia resources in your classroom you already know how they can help engage students in science, strengthen the impact of hands-on activities, and serve as valuable learning tools that can explain and demonstrate difficult concepts.  Incorporating different forms of media into lessons reinforces both science and media literacy skills in students. But with the multitude of science media resources available on the Web, where can you find trusted content?  Where can you be sure the science is actual, fact-checked science? (more…)

The California K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative Launches!

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

by Kathy DiRanna

To get a jump-start on the implementation in California of the Next Generation Science Standards, eight school districts and two charter management organizations (CMOs) have been selected to participate in the California K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. Developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve, this Initiative will be a fast-start demonstration project to build local education agency (LEA) capacity to fully implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in grades K-8. The Initiative begins its work August 4-8, 2014 with a weeklong Academy in Southern California.

The LEAs will engage with the K-12 Alliance in the Initiative over a four-year period to collaboratively develop and participate in leadership training for teachers and administrators, and in teacher professional development in content and pedagogy to meet the conceptual shifts required by NGSS. The participating districts and charters will form a CA NGSS Collaborative Network as a learning community for sharing best practices and addressing challenges of practice. In addition, the participating LEAs will serve as a “lab” to selectively beta-test NGSS-aligned instructional materials, implementation tools, and performance assessment prototype items. Learnings from these districts will be shared statewide to advance high-quality science teaching and learning. (more…)

Teachers Discussing the Challenges of Implementing NGSS

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

by Peter A’Hearn

The following is a conversation that took place between a group of science teachers on a patio on a warm Southern California night after a long day of science training. The topic of conversation was the challenges of implementing NGSS.

K. (2nd grade teacher): I am overwhelmed by the huge shift in instruction and the level of rigor that is being asked for. It’s overwhelming. When you think about time and what we have to doI do lots of rigor but when you think about other teachers who are on page 345 in their study book and how they are going to have to change. (more…)

Celestial Highlights for July 2014

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

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

In early June, after attending a reunion for Classes of 1961-64 at Stony Brook University, I remained a few days and had the pleasure of participating in a Summer Institute at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. The following blog about a previous Alda Institute gives the flavor of what occurred and includes some valuable tips to help scientists (and teachers) “distill their messages” to better communicate to the public and the media (and students).


Following this article on July skies is a selection of some of my favorite astronomy-related web resources.

Mars and Saturn are easy to spot in the evening sky for all of July, and Saturn with its rings is a real showpiece for telescopic viewing. Mars will form a close, eye-catching pair with the star Spica for several evenings around July 13. In the brightening dawn for much of month, brilliant Venus has a companion, Mercury, not far to its lower left. Especially attractive gatherings of Moon, planets, and stars occur on July 5 and 7 at dusk, and on July 22 and 24 at dawn. Dark moonless nights in latter half of month offer excellent views of the Milky Way. (more…)

Shrinking Arctic Ice Prompts Drastic Change in National Geographic Atlas

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Click on the image to access the video on the National Geographic website.

Click on the image to access the video on the National Geographic website.


Events for July 2014 in CSTA’s Region 2

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

by Minda Berbeco

Free Entry Days at:

Bay Area Discovery Museum, First Wednesday of the month
UC Botanical Gardens, First Thursday of the month
Oakland Museum of California, First Sunday of the month

CuriOdyssey, Free Community Day July 23

Super-cool Science Parties and lectures:

Nerd Nite EastBay, Last Monday of the month

Nerd Nite San Francisco, Third Wednesday of the month

Night Life, Thursdays, 6-10 pm, at the California Academy of Sciences
After Dark, First Thursday of the month, 6-10 pm, at the Exploratorium

Highlighted Events in July:

The Gemini Planet Imager initial performance and data analysis

Tuesday, 7/1/14, 12-1pm

SETI Institute Colloquium Series, 189 Bernardo Ave Mountain View, CA 94043

The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) is a dedicated facility for directly imaging and spectroscopically characterizing extrasolar planets. It combines a very high-order adaptive optics system, a diffraction-suppressing coronagraph, and an integral field spectrograph with low spectral resolution but high spatial resolution. GPI has been tuned for maximum sensitivity to faint planets near bright stars.

For more information: visit their website. (more…)

Professional Development Opportunity: Students Empowered to Help the Environment

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

by Bill Andrews

In the Spring semester of 2013, 436 Northern California students in grades three through twelve completed dozens of remarkable school-based environmental stewardship projects. Facilitated by their teachers who were participating in a professional development institute, the students reported they not only “learned new information [about the environment] and were motivated to do new [stewardship] projects,” but also they “came away from their project with a sense of empowerment to help the environment.” The students’ attitudes and behaviors toward the environment were collected via surveys after they completed their stewardship projects. The survey results were compiled by the Los Angeles-based Evaluation and Training Institute (ETI), as part of an external evaluation plan coordinated by the California Environmental Education Foundation (CEEF). (more…)

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