September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Celestial Highlights for 2015

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

by Robert Victor

These monthly charts plot positions of the stars of first magnitude or brighter and the five naked-eye planets at evening or morning mid-twilight. The charts can be used to follow the comings and goings of planets and stars. This selection includes dates of peak interest, when planets appear strikingly close to each other. We hope you and your students enjoy following the planets from one night to the next surrounding these occasions!

January 2015 at dusk: Mercury approaches within 0.6 degree lower right of Venus on Jan. 10. Venus and Jupiter visible simultaneously above opposite horizons starting late in month. See also the January 2015 Sky Calendar. Follow these two brilliant planets for the next five months, until their very close pairing on the evening of June 30. (more…)

NGSS Implementation Update: State Implementation Plan, New Assessments, LCAPs, and Curriculum Framework

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

by Jessica L. Sawko

There are a lot of moving parts  when it comes to implementing new state standards and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are no exception. Two weeks ago the California Department of Education (CDE) and State Board of Education (SBE) responded to CSTA’s call to provide clarification regarding the standards that are to be included in a district’s LCAP when addressing State Priority #2. Today and tomorrow the CFCC will convene again with the writers of the NGSS Curriculum Framework to provide feedback to the writers on draft framework chapters and CSTA will be at the meetings to provide input into process. Later this week the SBE will interview candidates for appointment to the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) – the body that will pick up the work to finish the NGSS Curriculum Framework after the CFCC completes its work. Finally, next week the SBE will convene its November meeting on November 13 – 14, 2014. On the agenda for this meeting is a recommendation from CDE that the State Board approve the State Implementation Plan for NGSS – a plan which will lay the groundwork for implementation activities at the state and local level as well as for support providers like CSTA and others. Also on the agenda is a report from CDE’s assessment division with the results of the stakeholder group meetings that were held in July 2014 to inform the planning of the future statewide assessment system for science. Finally the SBE will appoint new members to the IQC. (more…)

CSTA Night at the Aquarium – NGSS Science & Engineering Showcase Presenters Announced!

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

The 2014 NSTA Long Beach Area Conference – in Collaboration with CSTA is just one month away! If you have not already registered for what promises to be the professional learning event of the year for California science educators – it is not too late! Make plans to join more than 2,200 science teachers in Long Beach this December 4 – 6. Discounted registration rates are available through November 14, 2014. Please register today. Remember – both CSTA and NSTA members have the benefit of being able to register at member rates (a $90 savings).

If you have already made your plans to attend the Long Beach conference – please mark your conference schedules with these two CSTA events:

CSTA Night at the Aquarium of the Pacific NGSS Science & Engineering Showcase – Thursday, December 4, 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Tickets are limited – purchase yours today (only $10 for CSTA members and $25 for nonmmebers – ticket price includes light food, admission into the Aquarium for the event, and one beverage). (more…)

Focus on Physical Science

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

by Laura Henriques

As a former physics/physical science teacher, the California Classroom Science (CCS) issue focusing on physical science is always one of my favorites. I enjoy reading about lessons, labs and teaching ideas that my colleagues share in each month’s CCS, but I really enjoy reading physics and physical science lesson ideas as those apply most directly to what I teach. As with past issues of CCS, we have some great articles written by a wide variety of members on a range of topics. Sadly (for me), only a couple of them focus on physical science.

One of the physical science highlights is Padma Haldar’s article that has students doing ‘mythbuster’ activities to help them better understand the Nature of Science. This project requires students to engage in many of the science and engineering practices (they ask questions, plan and carry out investigations, analyze and interpret data, and evaluate and communicate information) and Ms. Haldar seems to be explicit in helping students understand the nature of science throughout the process. Another article in this month’s issue is Valerie Joyner’s where she shares a primary activity which focuses on the crosscutting concept of patterns. Her lesson links patterns with properties of plastic lids. As is the case with crosscutting concepts, she shares how this activity about patterns could be linked to other patterns in nature and science. (more…)

Planning Professional Learning Using the NGSS Implementation Pathway Model

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

by John Spiegel, Anthony Quan, and Yamileth Shimojyo

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have the ability to transform teaching and learning in the classroom. They will dramatically change how students experience science by shifting the focus from the memorization of facts to greater student engagement in the processes of science. The NGSS emphasize learning in three dimensions: Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas. In addition, there are seven Conceptual Shifts, or Innovations, that have strong implications for teaching and learning. These shifts include the interconnected nature of science as practiced in the real world, the integration of science and engineering, the use of performance expectations, a focus on deeper understanding of content as well as application of content, and alignment to the Common Core State Standards. Teachers will ultimately be tasked with implementing the NGSS, but cannot do so without extensive time to plan and engage in professional learning. (more…)

Torlakson Launches Online Educator Community to Improve Student Success

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced an enhanced Web site called “Digital Chalkboard” that provides teachers with a virtual meeting place to collaborate, get training to improve their skills, find research, and share best practices so they are better equipped to help students. (more…)

Is NGSS the End of Vocabulary?

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

by Peter A’Hearn

An exchange from a recent 4th grade lesson (excerpted):

[1] The Three Dimensions of Learning are found in Appendix E, F, and G at  and Chapters 3-8 from The Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (NRC, 2012) can be found here.

National Park Service Photo by Neal Herbert

National Park Service Photo by Neal Herbert

Teacher: What processes make a canyon?

Student (after pair sharing): Erosion.

Teacher: Tell me more about what that means…

Student: Erosion. (more…)

Patterns in the Primary Grades: Plastic Lids Activity

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

by Valerie Joyner

Primary grade teachers have always understood the importance of patterns in early childhood education. Patterns are used in reading, math, and written language. They are also used with students to assist in their development of understanding and applying science. According to the NGSS, “Patterns in the natural and human world can be observed, used to describe phenomena, and used as evidence”. The importance in patterns in early childhood science education cannot be understated! (more…)

Breaking Myths with Mythbusters Project

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

by Padma Haldar

The Mythbusters project is the first project of the year for our physics class and is part of the “Nature of Science” unit. The students are all juniors and seniors and they know the scientific procedure by heart by now, so as we review we focus on the “real” nature of science doing activities. We read articles and discuss how science can be open-ended; we also explore how it may be influenced by the prejudices, experiences and biases of scientists. (As an aside, the checks lab by Evolution & the Nature of Science Institutes  at Indiana University is an excellent activity that drives home these points precisely.) (more…)

Oxygen – Periodic Table of Videos

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

The team at Periodic Videos has created a TED-Ed Lesson for every element of the periodic table. This one is about oxygen – it’s number 8 and is among the most “famous” of the elements.


Access the full series of videos on TED-Ed
.

Nominations for Election to the CSTA Board of Directors, 2015-2017 Term

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors.This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There is a time and energy commitment, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers. (more…)

Being a ‘Next Generation’ Preservice Science Teacher

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

by Rick Pomeroy

This is a great time to be getting into science education, everything is changing and you are poised to be the leaders or the new thinking about science education.

You are so lucky, you don’t have to unlearn all of the bad habits of the old California Science Standards. You can just focus on the new ways of teaching and learning in the Next Generation Science Standards.

Do these statements sound familiar? If you are a preservice teacher, an undergraduate considering going into teaching, or recently graduated from a science teacher credential program, you have probably heard similar statements many times. I know that I have said them to my students and many of their mentor teachers are anxious for the epiphany that these new teachers will bring when they design their “Next Generation” aligned science lessons. Unfortunately, it is not quite that simple. The fact that there are new standards for new teachers to focus on does not mean that there is going to be an instantaneous transformation. To accomplish a full implementation of the new standards, even for brand new teachers, it will require some deep soul searching, re-orientation, and re-thinking of our concepts of a science curriculum. (more…)

Major (G5-14) STEM Opportunity for School Districts Starting February 2015 – Student Spaceflight Experiments Program – Mission 8 to the International Space Station

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

by Jeff Goldstein

The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education, and NanoRacks announce Mission 8 to the International Space Station. This STEM education opportunity immerses grade 5-14 students across a community in an authentic, high visibility research experience, where student teams design and propose real microgravity experiments to fly in low Earth orbit on the International Space Station. The program nurtures ownership in learning, critical thinking, problem solving, navigation of an interdisciplinary landscape, and communication skills – all reflective of the Next Generation Science Standards, and reflective of the skills needed by professional scientists and engineers, and the skills desired by 21st century employers. (more…)

CSTA Region 2 Events for November, 2014

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

by Minda Berbeco

CSTA’s Region 2 includes: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Solano Counties.

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

Super-cool Science Parties and Lectures:

Nerd Nite East Bay, 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

Café Inquiry, Firth Thursday of the month, 6pm, at Café Borrone, Menlo Park

Highlighted Events in November:

Dynamics and Diagnosis of Tick-Borne Diseases in a Changing Landscape
Tuesday, 11/4/14 12-1pm
Sonoma State University – Biology Colloquium, Rohnert Park
Speaker: Dr. Andrea Zwei, Department of Biology, San Francisco State University
For more information, visit their website

Lakes, Fans, Deltas, and Streams: Geomorphic Constraints on the Hydrologic History of Gale Crater, Mars
Tuesday, 11/4/14 12-1pm
SETI Institute Colloquium Series, Mountain View
It has been proposed that in Gale Crater, where the Curiosity rover landed in August 2012, lakes developed to various depths after the large central mound (informally referred to as Mt. Sharp) had evolved to a form close to its current topography. Using a combination of CTX and HiRISE imagery and CTX, HiRISE and HRSC topography, we have documented a sequence of rising and falling lake levels, thereby providing a possible relative timeline of the hydrologic events within Gale crater.
For more information, visit their website (more…)

Celestial Highlights for November 2014

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller.

Annually in late November, catch the Pleiades or Seven Sisters star cluster visible all night: Low in ENE at dusk, high in S in middle of night, and low in WNW at dawn. A view of this beautiful star cluster through a pair of binoculars is a sight not to be missed!

The brightest stars in November at dusk:

(1) Arcturus, the “Bear-chaser” star, can still be spotted very low in WNW at dusk at start of November but disappears below the horizon by second week. Mountains to your west would hasten its departure. (2) Vega is very high in WNW, 3/4 of the way from horizon to overhead on Nov. 1, and still halfway up to overhead at month’s end. (3) Capella, the “Mother-goat” star, is very low in NNE to NE at dusk in November and very slowly gaining in altitude. Note how stars near the horizon such as Arcturus and Capella twinkle much more than stars nearly overhead, such as Vega. The twinkling, as well as the considerable dimming of stars near the horizon, is caused by the passage of their light through Earth’s atmosphere. (more…)

$1,000 Scholarships for Amazon Rainforest PD Workshop

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Get your explorer on and apply for a scholarship to explore the Amazon rainforest next summer!

Educator Academy in the Amazon Rainforest + Machu Picchu

The July 1-11, 2015 Educator Academy in the Amazon Rainforest of Peru is a cross-curricular professional development workshop for K-12 formal and informal educators to learn and use:

  • 21st Century Instruction:  5E Lesson Design ~ Inquiry-Based Exploration ~ STEM
  • Inquiry Protocols & Resources:  Project Learning Tree ~ Cornell Lab of Ornithology ~ & More!
  • Global and Cultural Perspectives:  Service Learning ~ Sustainability ~ Global Education

(more…)

$250 Million Available in Pathway Grants

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today invited school districts and community colleges to apply for $250 million in California Career Pathways Trust grants for programs that provide skills and practical experience to help students prepare for success in college and careers.

“This program is a great example of teamwork among educators and employers,” said Torlakson. “By giving students a taste of the working world before they graduate, these programs motivate and excite students, reduce the drop-out rate, and increase the college attendance rate.” (more…)

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