January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

State Board Takes First Steps Towards Changes in Accountability, Gov. Brown Includes NGSS Funding in Proposed Budget (Sort of), Curriculum Framework Development Delay Proposed, and the Commission on Teacher Credentialing Hears Input on Teacher Preparation in an NGSS World

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

2015 got off to a very busy start in terms of NGSS implementation at the state level, and CSTA was there to represent the voice of science educators at every turn. The following is a summary of some of the important issues that were addressed in January 2015.

State Board and Accountability

On January 14, 2015 the California State Board of Education had one of what will be many dynamic conversations around the state’s future accountability system. There are many changes to be expected over the coming year with AYP, API, Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP), College and Career Indicators, graduation rates, and much more. CSTA is committed to engaging in all conversations to insure that science is well represented in all of these accountability measures. CSTA provided a written response as well as oral public comments at the meeting advocating for an accountability system that supported all student’s access to a high-quality science education, K-12. (more…)

President’s Message

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

by Laura Henriques

2015 is off to a busy start. As you will read in executive director, Jessica Sawko’s legislative update, there have been numerous meetings at which CSTA has represented your interests in just the first month of the year. There are lots of state entities and organizations working on different elements in order for the implementation of NGSS to become a reality. We recognize that all the different elements must fit together so that we have robust professional learning opportunities, quality instructional materials, well aligned assessments, state accountability plans that count science and local district plans which include science education in their locally controlled accountability plans (this includes teacher professional learning time and support, classroom resources, and dedicated time to teach science). As we see shifts in what will be happening in K-12 classrooms we need to see parallel shifts in higher education, in particular teacher preparation programs. So while the CDE is overseeing the development of the California Science Framework, assessments and accountability plans, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing needs to look at changes to how we credential teachers. Lots of moving parts and CSTA is paying attention to all of them. (more…)

Bold: adj. Showing the Ability to Take Risks

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

I just finished my first attempt at planning and implementing a Next Generation of Science Standards Lesson Series.   While I never intended it to be printed in a statewide publication, I am reminded of the words of Stephen Pruitt, Achieve Senior Vice President, Content, Research & Development, in an address to California Science Educators in September 2014 when he said,

Be bold

Since hearing those words, I have tried to apply them to everything I do regarding NGSS – including sharing a lesson series that is far from exemplar. While the lesson series does not always provide learning at the nexus of all 3 dimensions of NGSS – Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI), Science and Engineering Practices (SEP), and Crosscutting Concepts – it does provide students opportunities to take control of their own learning and reflect on their learning progress. (more…)

Caveat Lector: The Perils of Critical Thinking for Today’s Students

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

by Kevin Raskoff and George I. Matsumoto

The world has changed remarkably for our students, with information more readily available, easier to find, and of increasingly poorer quality than at any time in history. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) topics are receiving more attention in the classroom and the new Next Generation Science Standards1 (NGSS) and Common Core State Standards2 (CC) focus on deeper understanding and application of concepts rather than memorization. Critical thinking and problem solving have been outlined as essential components of both NGSS and CC, and being able to demonstrate understanding by asking and answering questions is core to these new benchmarks. (more…)

Battling Plagiarism in the Science Classroom

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

by Minda Berbeco

When I was a graduate student teaching introductory biology courses, academic integrity was an issue every single semester. We’d go through what plagiarism looked like, how to avoid it, what the penalties were, and even have students submit their work through a program that searched the web and all previous submissions for similarities. And yet, year after year, we still had problems with plagiarism. (more…)

Polio As a Case Study in Science Ethics

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

by Alan Colburn

Imagine for a moment the Ebola virus came to the United States. How do you think people would react? But now imagine scientists had developed a vaccine which they believed would be moderately effective at protecting people from the disease. Now how do you think people would react?

The situation is hypothetical, but the country confronted a similar situation in the 1950s when faced with polio – and a potential vaccine protecting against its spread. (more…)

What Should I Do? Part 2 – Preparing for the Interview

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

by Rick Pomeroy

The phone rings, you don’t recognize the number, but it’s job search time and you take the call. “Hello, this is Pat Admin, and we would like to interview you for a science opening at Purfect High School in the Adreem Unified School District.”

So what should you do? If you are interested in Purfect High School (PHS), thank them very nicely, say yes, and begin preparing for the interview. (more…)

CSTA Announces 2015 Keynote Speakers!

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

by Deb Farkas


As chair of the 2015 California Science Education Conference Committee, I am pleased to announce that CSTA will be welcoming Dr. Ainissa Ramirez and former astronaut, José Hernández, as our Opening Session and Closing Session Keynote speakers, respectively. Dr. Ramirez will present in the morning on Friday, October 2, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento and Mr. Hernández will address the CSTA audience the morning of Sunday, October 4. Both individuals are dedicated to making science accessible to all and encouraging young people to pursue careers in STEM.  (more…)

CSTA Member Honored by National Marine Educators Association (NMEA)

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

CSTA member Linda Chilton was honored in July of 2014 with the prestigious Marine Educators award from NMEA for her work of the past 23 years. The nomination said:

Linda has the ability to communicate with learners of all ages and with colleagues of all levels of expertise, from wide-eyed preschoolers to elementary teachers who are unsure about how to teach ocean-related curricula. She has a terrific combination of a gentle, friendly personality and endless enthusiasm for all things marine. As a teacher, she is truly the “guide at the side” who will encourage learners to discover things for themselves.


Celestial Highlights for February 2015

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

by Robert C. Victor and Robert D. Miller

Venus and Jupiter can now be viewed simultaneously each clear evening until about a month after their spectacular pairing on June 30. This month, consider an early evening sky watch for the gathering of Venus, Mars, and the crescent Moon on Friday, February 20. Hardy sky watchers may want to schedule a predawn session to view Saturn’s rings. (more…)

Events for February 2014

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

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

Highlighted Events in February:

Bird Walk Hike at Lake Merritt in Oakland

Saturday, 2/07 & 2/17 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM

Lake Merritt, Oakland

January is the perfect time to observe wintering waterfowl. Join the Lindsay Wildlife Museum for a morning of birding with experienced birdwatchers from the Mt Diablo Audubon Society. Bring your binoculars and learn how to tell the difference between a tern and a gull. Bird walk hike will be at Oakland’s Lake Merritt. Map and directions will be sent after registration is completed.

Click here to register online (more…)

Help CSTA Honor Excellence – Submit a Nomination for a CSTA Award

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

Every so often we come across a person in our life or career that really inspires us, moves us, or makes us want to be a better person or do a better job. When we meet these people and interact with them, we learn, grow, and thank them for who they are and what they do. If you know someone who fits this bill and has made a significant impact on science education and teaching in California, please consider taking your appreciation one step further by nominating them  for CSTA’s Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award(more…)

NGSS@NSTA Now Offers More Resources Than Ever – with More Soon to Come

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

by Rodney Olson

Along with CSTA, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) is helping science educators implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). One way they are doing this is by vetting resources that are aligned to the NGSS. In the fall of 2013, NSTA selected 55 science educators from across the nation to serve as NGSS@NSTA Curators.  California has four curators: Mary Koga, Melanie Brown-Davis, Erica Motamed, and Rodney Olson (all CSTA members). Curators have have been hard at work selecting, vetting, and curating valuable resources that teachers can use in their classrooms to fully engage their students in NGSS-rich lessons. NSTA plans to post the curated resources on the NSTA website (http://ngss.nsta.org/)—called the NGSS@NSTA Hub—sometime this spring. Resources will continue to be added to the Hub over the coming months and years. (more…)

CSTA Is Seeking Applicants for Appointment to the CSTA Board of Directors

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

CSTA is now accepting letters of intent from CSTA members interested in filling a vacant seat on the CSTA board of directors. The vacant seat is that of Region 1 Director. The term to be served will be March 2, 2015 – June 30, 2015 (the remaining balance of the term for this position). Letters of intent along with a resume should be sent via email to admin@cascience.org. Only current CSTA members will be considered for appointment. To verify your membership you may contact the office via phone or email (916-979-7004 or membership@cascience.org) or online (members.cascience.org) by accessing your membership record and clicking on “my membership.” (more…)

PAEMST 2014–2015 Application for 7–12 Grade Mathematics and Science Teachers Now Open

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) program is pleased to announce that the 2014-2015 application period for 7-12 grade mathematics and science (including computer science) teachers is now open! Please consider nominating a talented teacher or applying yourself by using the PAEMST website today. The nomination deadline is April 1, and the application deadline is May 1.

PAEMST is the highest honor the United States government bestows for K–12 mathematics and science teaching, honoring up to 108 teachers each year. Presidential awardees receive a certificate signed by the President, a trip for two to Washington, D.C., to attend a series of recognition events, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). PAEMST’s most recent cohort of awardees even had the opportunity to meet with President Barack Obama. (more…)

ESEA Is Moving—Call Your Representatives, Let Your Voice Be Heard

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Congress is now considering legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, otherwise known as No Child Left Behind. A bill is expected to move forward in the next two weeks in both the House and Senate education committees. The STEM Education Coalition (of which NSTA is a member) has been meeting with House and Senate members here in Washington over the past several weeks to push for including provisions in this important bill that would establish STEM education as a national priority. We need your help getting this message heard!

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has issued a call to action regarding the re-authorization of ESEA. Please see the post by NSTA assistant executive director of legislative affairs with information about the issue including links to email your representative.


Introduction to NGSS: A Paradigm Shift in Teaching & Learning – a Workshop for Educators

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

90 science teachers, coaches, principals, and administrators gathered in Fairfield to participate in a day-long workshop hosted by CSTA and California ASCD on January 7 at the Solano County Office of Education. The workshop’s lunch was generously sponsored by Solano First Federal Credit Union. Our most sincere thanks to Solano First for their most generous support of this important professional learning opportunity. (more…)

The Benefits of Doing a Science Project

Sunday, February 1st, 2015



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