January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Celestial Highlights for September 2014

Friday, August 29th, 2014

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

Mars forms colorful pairs with other objects in the southwest evening sky in September, as the red planet moves from just over 5° from yellowish Saturn on Sept. 1, to within 5° of red Antares Sept. 22-Oct. 3. Saturn with rings tipped 22° from edge-on is impressive through a telescope, if you catch it before it sinks low.

Some 40 minutes before sunrise, the brightest planet Venus can still be spotted low, north of east early in month, but in twilight, to lower left of bright Jupiter. The gap between them is 15° on Sept. 1 and widens by 1° daily, as Jupiter ascends higher, while Venus sinks deeper into the solar glare. (more…)

Introduction to the Next Generation Science Standards: A Paradigm Shift in Teaching & Learning – Two Locations

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

This full-day workshop will highlight the many shifts required of both teachers and learners under the Next Generation Science Standards. In the morning session, participants will engage in an overview of the NGSS and its Three Dimensions. During the afternoon sessions, participants will be invited to experience either a K-5 or 6-12 session. Each of these sessions will further explore the NGSS with an emphasis on the impact it will have within K-5 and 6-12 classrooms.

This workshop is co-hosted by CSTA and CASCD – members of either organization may register at the member rate! Registration for the full day is only $90 if you register by the early bird deadline and includes lunch.

Participants will leave with:

  • An awareness of the NGSS and its Three Dimensions as they reflect the interconnected nature of science as it is practiced and experienced in the real world
  • An awareness that the Performance Expectations will guide instruction and assessment
  • An awareness of how the NGSS is aligned with the Common Core State Standards
  • An awareness that the NGSS supports 21st Century Learning

Presenters: Jared Marr, Staff Development & Curriculum Specialist and Michelle French, Staff Development & Curriculum Specialist at the Tulare County Office of Education (more…)

CSTA Night at the Aquarium

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Hosted by CSTA and the Aquarium of the Pacific, sponsored by Chevron.

Thursday, December 4, 2014, 7:00-10:00 PM

©Photo courtesy of the Aquarium of the Pacific. All rights reserved.

It’s a Night at the Aquarium! Unlike the movie by a similar name, we don’t need movie magic for this place to come alive at night. You will be surrounded by the amazing living creatures from the Pacific Ocean. See what they do at night (certainly not grading papers).

Join your CSTA colleagues and conference attendees for an amazing evening at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific. Just steps away from the Convention Center and area hotels, the Aquarium will be all ours for the night. You will be able to wander through the aquarium, see sharks, touch rays, observe jellies, see the newly born penguins and all the other wonderful animals who make the LBAOP their home. (more…)

Time for a New Start – Again!

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Laura Henriques

It is early August as you read this. For lots of people, August means summer vacations. For educators, however, August means it is time to begin another school year. I tend to think of the start of the school year as New Year’s Eve. My husband, also an educator, and I toast the start of the school year in ways that most people toast the start of a new calendar year. We reflect on the past year and set goals for the year ahead. Just like New Year’s resolutions, the act of setting educationally related goals helps keep me on track. My New Year’s resolution of going to the gym five times a week may not pan out, but having committed to improve my level of physical activity has been clearly stated and set as a goal. Similarly, as I set my goals for the academic year I am making a commitment to do something to improve my practice, my skills, or content knowledge. (more…)

Taking the Interactive Science Notebook Plunge

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Jill Grace

I kept hearing about it for years. THE NOTEBOOK. It sounded interesting, it had good research street cred, everyone seemed to rave about it, BUT…I was intimidated. What is up with the input-output stuff? Besides, I was already doing a good job teaching, right?

It wasn’t until one particular bunch of kids in one particular school year that I realized I NEEDED to take the plunge. It was no longer an option. It was a tough group that year. I found I was hitting my head against the wall trying to help some underachieving students be successful. I figured that if the “Interactive Notebook” (which I will refer to as IN) was good for improving the literacy of students learning English then it had to be beneficial for all students. (more…)

Are You Treating Your August Students Like June Students?

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Lisa Hegdahl

I enjoy my job. When someone mentions that summer is almost over, I imagine the well-behaved, cooperative students that will be joining my class, just like the ones that I said goodbye to in June. Except…the students who will enter my classroom in August are not the students from this past June. It’s easy to forget that those students were well-behaved and cooperative because I taught them to be that way. (more…)

Events for August 2014

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by David Pummill

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

Class Field Trips Fall 2014 Scheduling Open Now!

Explore Evolution
Wednesday – Sunday through August 31, 2014, 12:00 pm – 5:00 PM
Explore Evolution investigates evolutionary principles in organisms ranging from the smallest to the largest. The project focuses on seven research projects that have made a major contribution to our understanding of evolution. This interactive exhibit gives visitors an opportunity to experience how scientists conduct research on evolution. This exhibit features the work of the following scientists:

Turtle Bay Exploration Park
844 Sundial Bridge Drive, Redding, CA 96001 Phone: 800-TURTLEBAY (800-887-8532)

Walk on the Wild Side Animal Show
Sunday, through September 1, 11:00 am & 12:00 pm, (NO LATE SEATING)
(Special Monday show on Labor Day, Sept. 1)
Marvel as a hawk flies inches from your head. See a porcupine up close and personal. Watch a fox use its tail to balance on a narrow edge. Join us for a fun-filled educational wildlife show, and see animals showcasing their natural behaviors in a captivating and inspiring atmosphere. This show is one that you won’t soon forget.

Pacific Coast Air Museum
One Museum Way, Santa Rosa, CA 95043 Phone: 707-575-7900

Reconnaissance Weekend is Saturday & Sunday, August 16 & 17, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
“Climb Aboard” our vintage aircraft and learn about the history of where and how they were used from the crew who has lovingly restored them.

This month we are featuring our reconnaissance birds:

F-8U Crusader: Similar to those used to reconnoiter Soviet missile bases in Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
RF-86F Sabre: One of the United States’ earliest high-speed jet reconnaissance craft.
SR-71 Blackbird Nose: The nose, astro navigation system, and tracking camera of this mysterious and legendary cold war spyplane, whose true performance parameters are still classified.
D-21 Drone: A mach-3+ reconnaissance drone, intended to be carried on the back of a super-secret Lockheed A-12.

This is a rare opportunity to get a close-up look and sit in the cockpits of these historic aircraft.
Visit the website for more opportunities to “Climb Aboard” this fall.

The Discovery Museum Space and Science Center
3615 Auburn Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95821 Phone: 916-808-3942
Summer Schedule: Open daily, Monday – Friday 10:00 am – 4:30 pm, Saturday and Sunday 10:00 am – 4:30 pm. Planetarium and Family Feature on Saturdays and Sundays only.

Saturday & Sunday, August 2 & 3, 2014
Meet a Rock Hound!
Visit the Discovery Museum to meet and learn from a local “rock hound.” This geology enthusiast is bringing his amazing collection of rocks and fossils that he has collected over the years. See a bendable rock, a mineral that bends light, a whale vertebrae fossil and more! There is a family-friendly presentation at noon and 2:00 pm for all ages. Each family gets a free poster as a souvenir (as supplies last). Planetarium shows are at 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm are included with admission (ages 4 and above only).

Saturday & Sunday, August 9 & 10, 2014
Volcanic Blast!
Did you know there are 1,900 active volcanoes on earth? Or that that lava can reach 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit? Learn about volcanoes and their impact on planet earth this weekend at the Discovery Museum. Volcano demonstrations take place at noon and 2:00 pm. Kids 12 and under receive a volcanic rock to take home, plus a make-and-take paper volcano craft. Enjoy the volcano area of the Blast from the Past exhibit. Planetarium shows are at 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm are included with admission (ages 4 and above only).
Saturday & Sunday, August 16 & 17, 2014
Breathe California
Take a deep breath and meet our special guests from Breathe California. They’ll teach your family all about Sacramento’s air. The family feature at noon or 2:00 pm will explore the connection between clean air and healthy lungs. Learn how food waste is used to help improve our air quality! Children 12 and under are invited to create and decorate a model of a wind turbine to take home (from 12:30 pm-4:00 pm). Admission includes planetarium shows at 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm for ages 4 and older.

August 23-29: Closed for Exhibit Maintenance
We’re closed this week for repairs, cleaning, painting, touch-ups, tune-ups, fix-ups, and general maintenance. We’ll be back open in time for three days of LABOR DAY FUN!

Saturday, Sunday & Monday, August 30, 31, and September 1, 2014
Labor Day Fun!
Enjoy the holiday weekend by showing your patriotic pride. Visit the Discovery Museum this weekend for a self-guided tour of our Blast from the Past exhibit. Kids crafts one of our favorites, a patriotic windsock. Included with admission all three days: planetarium shows at 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm (ages 4 and above only); animal presentations at noon & 2:00 pm (all ages). Picnics are always welcomed on our grounds! (more…)

What Factors Affect Seed Germination?

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Jeff Orlinsky

As you know, California Science Standards are changing and this year is a great time for teachers to examine old lab activities and modify them to the new standards. One of the changes in the standards is a focus on science and engineering practices, as listed below:

1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
2. Developing and using models
3. Planning and carrying out investigations
4. Analyzing and interpreting data
5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
7. Engaging in argument from evidence (more…)

Call for Volunteers: Introducing the CSTA Outreach/E-Communications Committee

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Jill Grace

Times have changed, and therefore, so does CSTA! We are excited to announce the formation of the Outreach/E-Communications Committee. The purpose of this committee is to expand CSTA’s outreach and communication efforts with on-line audiences. (more…)

Call for Volunteers: CSTA Membership and Preservice Committee

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Lisa Hegdahl

The CSTA Membership and Preservice Committee keeps current and potential members informed about membership benefits. The committee also monitors communications and the frequency with which they are sent out to these groups. At present, the CSTA office staff handles communications with preservice teachers. (more…)

Getting Ready for a New School Year

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Nikki Bailey

Renewal, self-reflection, collaboration and willingness to change are some of the keys to my professional growth. Each year, I have a process to get myself ready for the first days of school. My current strategies are outlined below. I say current, as they seem to evolve each year as my content and coworkers change. (more…)

Preparing for a Student Teacher

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Megan McKenzie, Corey Lee, Yukako Kawakatsu, and Rick Pomeroy

As the beginning of the school year approaches, teachers begin to think of all of the things they have to do to be ready for the first day of school. Ordering supplies, mapping the curriculum, developing that perfect opening day activity, and arranging the room to reflect this year’s focus on STEM or science and engineering practices all dominate the planning process. But what should you do if you are hosting a student teacher for the first time this year? Recently, I asked three early career teachers what they would do when planning for a student teacher. By their own admissions, their answers are a blend of what they would have wanted when they started student teaching and the things they plan to do for the new teachers they will be working with this year. (more…)

NGSS Middle School Transition

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Brennan Brockbank

I work in the Burlingame School District as a K-8 Science Coach. Our middle school teachers, like many others, are distraught about how they will make the transition to new science standards and curriculum. The Middle School Integrated Model requires that content be shifted, which necessitates careful planning and implementation so that students are ensured access to all topics. Additionally, the transition needs to occur in a way that allows teachers to make comfortable adjustments to their curriculum as more resources become available. (more…)

Getting Your Primary Classroom Ready for Science!

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Valerie Joyner

It’s hard to believe summer vacation is almost over and it’s time to plan for a new school year. As primary teachers, you know the importance of building the foundations with your young students during the year to support their futures as students, lifelong learners, and informed citizens. A critical component of these educational foundations is science! But, where do you start? (more…)

Call for Volunteers: CSTA’s NGSS Committee

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

The CSTA NGSS Committee participates in a wide variety of NGSS related activities. The committee helps keep members informed of NGSS professional development opportunities, provides information for members about how best to move forward with NGSS implementation, and participates in the public review of NGSS related materials (i.e. the State’s Implementation Plan, drafts of the Science Curriculum Frameworks, assessment plans). (more…)

But What Is “Good”?! Learning and Using Observational Skills by Studying Water Taste

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Joanne Michael

The beginning of the year is a fantastic time to get to know how skilled your students’ observations are when working on an experiment. While there are a number of brain teasers and visual slight-of-hands that can accomplish this, I like to do a lab that I call “Which Water is Water?” to quickly assess their skill set. From doing this, I have an immediate data set of which students are skilled at noticing subtle differences between two or more items, which students can describe something with detail, and which students are good at sitting back and allowing others to do the dirty work. Best of all the students LOVE this lab; they ask me mid-year if they can do it again! I normally do this with my 5th grade classes, but it can be done with any grade level. With the current drought occurring within California, it is also a fantastic time to discuss water sources and conservation. (more…)

Call for Volunteers: Sharing Your Writing Expertise and Talents!

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Valerie Joyner

The California Science Teachers Association is always looking for writers, photographers, and videographers to enhance and enrich our monthly newsletter CCS (California Classroom Science). CCS seeks to share with our members the most current and interesting information about science education in California through articles, lesson plans, legislative activity, photos, and videos. If you have a passion for sharing your educational experiences, ideas, and information with other science educators consider submitting your work to CCS. (more…)

ScienceProfOnline.com: Free Biology Education Resources for Instructors, Students & Parents

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Tami Port

ScienceProfOnline.com is a web resource I started developing several years ago, in cooperation with Colorado high school science teacher Alicia Cepaitis. The purpose of the site was to make all of the biology teaching materials that we have created over the years available, free of cost, to other instructors, students and parents. Below is a summary of what the site offers. (more…)

Celestial Highlights for August 2014

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

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

Mars and Saturn draw attention in the southwest evening sky, as they appear within 10° Aug. 8-Sept. 10, and within 5° Aug. 19-31. Viewed through a telescope this month, Saturn with its shadow cast upon its rings has a striking 3-dimensional appearance.

Some 45 minutes to an hour before sunrise, brilliant Venus low in east-northeast is accompanied by Jupiter, itself of considerable brightness, no more than 5° away Aug. 13-22. On Aug. 17, the two spectacular points of light are just 0.7° apart, and on Aug. 18, an even more impressive 0.4°. (more…)

CALL FOR PUBLIC COMMENT ON Next Generation Science Standards Systems Implementation Plan for California

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

The California Department of Education (CDE) is pleased to announce that the first draft of Next Generation Science Standards Systems Implementation Plan for California is available online at the CDE’s Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Web page at: http://www.cde.ca.gov/pd/ca/sc/ngssintrod.asp  The purpose of this document is to assist the CDE, California local educational agencies (LEAs), and support providers in implementing the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve (CA NGSS). The plan identifies eight strategies and accompanying elements and activities for the implementation of the CA NGSS. By utilizing this plan, the CDE, LEAs, support providers, and all stakeholders will have the potential to transform science education in California to create a different way of thinking about teaching and learning science.

Comments and suggestions for improvement may be submitted to ngss@cde.ca.gov by close of business Monday, August 25, 2014.  If you have any questions, you may call the CDE’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Office at 916-323-5847, or submit questions to the NGSS mailbox at ngss@cde.ca.gov .

And the Award Goes to…

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

CSTA is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2014 Awards! Congratulations to Herbert Brunkhorst, Laurie Gillis, Chevron, and Water Education Foundation/California Project WET. CSTA will present these awards during the annual meeting of members to be held on Thursday, December 4, 2014, 3:15 pm – 4:30 pm, at the Long Beach Convention Center. This event will take place during the 2014 NSTA Long Beach Area Conference on Science Education – in Collaboration with CSTA.

2014 Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award: Herbert Brunkhorst

Herbert Brunkhorst, recipient of the 2014 Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award

Herbert Brunkhorst, recipient of the 2014 Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award

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.

Dr. Herb Brunkhorst has spent his professional life in science education. He started his career in Iowa where he taught high school biology and later worked as a science consultant for the Area Education Agency (comparable to California’s County Offices). After a decade in K-12 education Herb began his graduate education where he ultimately earned a Ph.D. in both science education and biology. At that point, his career shifted to the post-secondary level. He spent the bulk of his teaching career (~25 years) as a faculty member in the CSU system where he taught both science content classes (e.g. biology, bioethics, nature, and history of science) and education courses (e.g. research methods, elementary and secondary science methods classes). (more…)

July 2014 California State Board of Education Recap – the Science Education Highlights

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Jessica L. Sawko

On July 9 – 10, 2014, the California State Board of Education (SBE) held its regularly scheduled meeting. There were several topics on the agenda that were of interest to science educators and science education and CSTA attended both days to address those items.

New Science Assessment Development

Item 5 on the board’s agenda was the extension of the California Department of Education’s (CDE) contract with testing contractor Educational Testing Service (ETS). This contract extension includes many tasks for ETS including the administration of the science CSTs in the spring of 2015 and tasks for the development of new assessments in science aligned to the California Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). (more…)

Announcing the 2014 California STEM Symposium Keynote Speakers

Monday, August 4th, 2014

September 21- 23, 2014 at the San Diego Convention Center


The 2014 Keynote Speakers include:

  • Bill Nye
  • Hadi Partovi
  • Mae Jemison
  • Alex Kajitani
  • Jamie Hyneman

Register for now for the STEM Symposium

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2014 State Finalists for Prestigious National Teaching Award

Monday, August 4th, 2014

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated six outstanding elementary school teachers as California finalists for the 2014 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). (more…)

The First Steps for New Science Assessments Are Underway

Monday, August 4th, 2014

by Jessica L. Sawko

One group of stakeholders after two long days of discussions. This group included science teachers K-12, university educators, a parent representative, an industry representative (Janet Auer of Chevron), and CSTA Executive Director Jessica Sawko.

One group of stakeholders after two long days of discussions. This group included science teachers K-12, university educators, a parent representative, and an industry representative.

Approximately 200 science stakeholders participated in one of two two-day meetings in Sacramento on July 15-18, 2014. These stakeholder meetings were outlined and required in AB 484 as a part of the process to develop a plan for statewide assessments aligned to NGSS for California. CSTA was pleased to be a part of the process and recommended over 90 members for participation. Information about how many members actually participated is not available; however, there were many familiar faces at both meetings. CSTA applauds all the participants for taking two days away from their home, work, and families to participate in the meetings. (more…)

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