September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

2015-17 CSTA Board of Directors Election Results

Posted: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

CSTA is pleased to announce the results of the 2015-2017 Board of Director elections. The winners of the election are below. CSTA thanks all candidates and members for their participation in the elections. These directors terms will begin on July 1, 2015 and conclude on June 30, 2017.


Jill Grace

Jill has a broad teaching background that provides a common experience between herself and CSTA’s members. She has been a middle school science teacher for ten years and prior to that she was an elementary science specialist. Outside of the classroom, she has spent a significant amount of her time working in teacher professional development. For the past two years, Jill has served as the Middle School/Jr. High School Director on the CSTA Board of Directors.

Science education empowers. It empowers curiosity as it provides ways to know and understand the world, the mind as it develops a strategy for generating knowledge, the individual as part of an informed citizenry who makes important life decisions, and the dreamer as the creator of new solutions in an ever changing world. As science educators, our role isn’t to just teach science content, but to provide opportunities that empower.

CSTA’s support of quality science education is critical in this new era of education reform. For many years, I have supported CSTA with my membership. Then in 2013 I decided to run for the board as I wanted to do more and to help shape conversations for the very things that directly impact our classrooms: standards, instructional strategies, curriculum, and assessment. As your president elect I will work tirelessly for CSTA to continue informing state leaders and legislation, advocate for high quality science education, expand active support for teachers and their professional growth, and for the empowerment of every student.

Primary (K-2) Director

Valerie Joyner

Valerie’s entire professional career has been dedicated to educating students from their early years in kindergarten through the graduate level with pre-service teachers. She has taught elementary students for 35 years, including over twenty years with grades K-2 and has always placed a special emphasis on science. Valerie is currently serving as the Primary Director on the CSTA Board of Directors.

My philosophy of science education encourages all students to think, access knowledge, and apply science in their everyday life. Today, science education must be based on the three dimensional learning provided through the Next Generation Science Standards. While science education begins at home and in informal settings like gardens, kitchens, museums, and parks. It is enriched and solidified as children enter school and go through the grades. When students personally experience scientific explorations, whether in kindergarten or AP chemistry, they deeply understand and confidently use science disciplinary core ideas, practices, and crosscutting concepts. With the increasing demands by our society to increase scientific literacy; all science educators must teach students to think and act scientifically, so they can develop the new technologies we will need and to understand its implications for the future.

My vision for CSTA is to promote science learning into every child’s daily curriculum and life experiences. Primary and elementary students in particular are missing crucial skills for success when we fail to capitalize on their natural curiosity and provide them with daily science instruction and experiences. To understand our ever expanding body of science knowledge, students need specific understanding of scientific disciplinary core ideas, practices, and crosscutting concepts. This understanding is best nurtured by experiencing science first hand. Only then can students eagerly apply critical thinking and science concepts to participate in the technological revolutions of the future. To assure scientific literacy and see our students successfully develop and evaluate future technologies, daily science experiences are a necessity. CSTA will continue to play an important role in the implementation of NGSS in the coming years. It will need strong primary grade leadership to insure that California’s young children receive the very best foundation in science education. This foundation must include science for every student, every day, every year!

Region 1 Director

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian has 22 years as an educator and has experience teaching grades 5-11 in both urban and rural communities. In both instances, she stepped into site and district, then finally county curriculum leadership roles. She currently works in the Educational Services Department of the Siskiyou COE. Marian has served as CSTA Secretary for the past 4 years.

Science education and the need for science literacy – fluency in scientific thought and content – are why I am in my profession. I cannot think of anything I value about education more than providing every student with the ability to assemble evidence and answer a question using the knowledge of those who have gone before and the process of inquiry refined through experience. I see science education as a vital balance when superstition or lack of knowledge might influence personal health or societal well-being. While every teacher has a meaningful role in society and children’s lives, the role of science teacher stands out for its part in sustaining curiosity and providing the voice and logic in a wonderfully complex world. These critical elements of education no longer have to remain in the back seat in California’s schools. With the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) transitioning into place, science needs all the support it can get from educators, policy makers, and organizations like CSTA to move to its proper place in every classroom.

Prior to being on the board, and now after working with the board, I have seen CSTA and the invididuals who comprise it take leadership roles for science education, and live by the mission and goals. I have supported the organization’s efforts to refine itself to be as current and effective as it can be – reducing resource consumption by moving to electronic publications and practices, developing a shared leadership model, and re-envisioning the design of the annual conference for example. I am impressed and encouraged by the difficult but intentional reorganizational decisions CSTA has made to ensure its financial and philosophical survival during a difficult phase in California’s economic history. Each of these reflects the deepest commitment, which I share, to provide and promote science education in California.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

One Response

  1. Congratulations new CSTA officers! Public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) provide ‘learning landscapes” of incredible variety and depth. Keep these natural and cultural resources of California’s great outdoors in mind when promoting ideas for the next generation of conservation leaders.

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California Science Assessment Update

Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

by Jessica Sawko

In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.

At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Some ways to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in your classroom

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

by Carol Peterson

1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

2016 Award Recipients – Join CSTA in Honoring Their Accomplishments

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference  on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!

Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award

John Keller

John Keller

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. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

NGSS: Making Your Life Easier

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Peter A’hearn

Wait… What?

NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?

The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Celestial Highlights, September 2016

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt 

Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.