January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Science Is in the Air – So Much Going On!

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Laura Henriques

It’s May and with that comes AP exams, science fair, science Olympiad, NGSS Rollout Symposium, plans for summer professional development opportunities for us and our students. There are so many things happening in our regions and around the state. It’s hard to keep up on everything, but try we must!

Springtime is when our students show us what they’ve got!

Springtime is the culmination for a wide range of year-long or semester-long science activities. Congratulations and thank you to all of our members and science friends who helped with Science Olympiad, Science Fairs, academic decathlon, AP exams, robotics competitions, science or STEM fairs and more. We all recognize that it takes a lot of time, work, energy and passion from teachers and kids to get to the point where kids are able to share what they know, apply their knowledge and skills, be competitive, and shine. Those long after-school sessions, Saturday work sessions, the time away from family, the extra hours… they are worth it. You do make a difference and the opportunities that you are providing to your students will be remembered long after the event(s) are over.  (more…)

Computer Based Testing for Science – Coming Soon Plus Sample 2015 Individual Student Reports for 5th and 8th Grade Science CSTs

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

updated May 6, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

On Wednesday, May 6, 2015 the California State Board of Education voted to approve Educational Testing Service (ETS) as the contractor to develop the new science assessments that are required to meet federal testing regulations.  The vote is not without controversy and was preceded by a closed session of the the State Board. As reported in the Sacramento Bee on April 5, Pearson School was dissatisfied with the results of the bidding process and threatened a lawsuit.

Partial view of the sample 5th grade student report. Click the image to access a full copy of the sample report.

Partial view of the sample 5th grade student report. Click the image to access a full copy of the sample report.

Additionally, this week the California Department of Education also released the final version of sample individual student reports that will be sent home to parents this summer. These reports will include the science assessment results in grades 5 and 8. The sample report of the grade 10 life science test has not been posted and CSTA has requested more information about what information this report will contain. (more…)

Science Framework Delay Passes First Committee While Standards Implementation Funding Stalls in Appropriations

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

There is a great deal of positioning and lobbying going on at the state Capitol these days with the projected increase in state revenue, which may translate into as much as $3 billion in additional funding for K-12 education. The question is “how will that be spent?.” Governor Brown is expected to release his revised budget proposal on May 14. The budget will likely give us the answer to this question. CSTA, the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), CSLNet, Children Now, TechAmerica, TechNet, Education Trust-West, California Federation of Teachers, and several LEAs agree that $1 billion should be earmarked to fund implementation of new state standards. AB 631 (Bonilla) proposes just that, and while it easily passed the Assembly Education Committee last month, it stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee and was put on suspense. (more…)

A Teacher’s Journey: NGSS Is NOT an Add On

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

Students looking at a beaker containing 55.85g of iron-


“That is one atom of iron.”

Huh… Umm…Sinking feeling… I hope nobody who knows anything about science walks into my room right now.

My students were looking at a mole of iron (602,200,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms more or less) and concluding that they were probably looking at one atom of iron. And this was after two weeks of learning about the periodic table and structure of the atom. My formal observation lesson that year had been about how to figure out the number of protons, neutrons, and electrons in an atom based on the periodic table. My principal gave me all “3s” and told me it was one of the best lessons he had observed that year. (more…)

NGSS – Next Generation Science Students

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Leah Wheeler

For the past 10 years, students have entered my 5th and 6th grade classrooms with little science experience.  Because science has not been taught and takes the backseat to all other subject areas, students had no idea how fascinating science could really be for them.  However, this past year, I had the pleasure to be a part of Galt Elementary School District’s NGSS Early Implementation team and it has truly transformed how I teach science in my classroom.

In years past, students would moan, “Oh no, science!” and, “This is so boring just reading out of a book,” but not this year.  This year students are enthused about learning science and thrilled for the opportunity to explore something new.

We started out our school year exploring Earth’s systems and the human impact on those systems.   (more…)

Taking on Tech: From Daunting Task to Indispensable Tool

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Chelsea Poma and Jill Grace

Where does a second year science teacher start? Still getting used to a school and its students, families, and colleagues, we are still very much in survival mode. We find ourselves needing to re-vamp lessons from the prior year, wrap our heads around NGSS, and try to take care of ourselves so that we can bring our A-game – because isn’t that what every kid deserves? The cherry on top here in California has to be the added layer of BTSA (Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment). Designed to support new teachers and provide mentoring, BTSA also requires a lot of new teachers, adding another layer on to their to-do list. (more…)

State Superintendent Torlakson Visits CSTA President Elect Lisa Hegdahl’s Classroom to Shine a Spotlight on NGSS

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

On April 21, 2015 State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson visited McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA. Galt is in Sacramento County about 30 minutes to the southeast of the city of Sacramento. Why the visit to McCaffrey? To shine the spotlight on the school, district, teachers, and students – all participants in the California K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. Superintendent Torlakson didn’t come alone, he attracted two local newspaper reporters, two video camera crews, and yours truly.

Elementary teachers Neika Estey (far left) and Leah Wheeler (seated next to Neika), participants in the K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative share their experience with integrating what they have learned thus far into their elementary classrooms.

Elementary teachers Neika Estey (far left) and Leah Wheeler (seated next to Neika), participants in the K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative share their experience with integrating what they have learned thus far into their elementary classrooms.

The day began with a meeting in the school library during which Superintendent Torlakson heard from elementary and middle school teachers in the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District actively participating in this first phase of the Initiative: Christa Dunkel, Jenne McGranahan, Christine Neal, Neika Estey, Leah Wheeler, and Lisa Hegdahl (CSTA President-Elect). Also participating in the presentation were Karen Schauer, the district superintendent, Ron Rammer, middle school principal, Barbara Woods, district science coach (CSTA Member), and two 8th grade students, Ariana Pamplona and Nicholas Picazo. Following the meeting, Superintendent Torlakson, the media, and others, in total about 20 people walked to Lisa Hegdahl’s 8th grade science classroom to observe the lesson for the day. (more…)

Kathy DiRanna Honored with Outstanding Leadership In Science Education Award

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Kathy DiRanna

Kathy DiRanna

The Outstanding Leadership in Science Education Award is a prestigious award that recognizes and honors a National Science Education Leadership Association (NSELA) member, who through their professional work, has demonstrated outstanding leadership in science education at the school, district, county, regional, and/or national level.

This award was presented at the NSELA breakfast, held during the annual NSTA National Conference in Chicago on March 12, 2015. The award is accompanied by a check for $1,000 and a plaque donated by Pearson. 

Kathy DiRanna is a lifetime member of CSTA and is well known in the science education community both here in California and nationwide. She has educated and inspired many science teachers throughout her career. CSTA is very pleased to share the news of this honor bestowed upon one of the great minds in science education in this state. The following was provided by NSELA announcing Kathy as the 2015 recipient of the Outstanding Leadership in Science Education Award. (more…)

Explore the Next Generation Science Standards This Summer

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

CSTA and NSTA invite California science educators–including elementary teachers–to the NSTA Summer Institute in Anaheim, CA, on July 9. The first ever NSTA Summer Institute, being held in collaboration with CSTA, focuses on implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards and will provide participants the opportunity to study the shifts of NGSS, explore the three-dimensional learning approach, integrate science with ELA and math, adapt current instructional materials to the NGSS, and much more.

The program begins with a keynote address from former NASA astronaut and educator Barbara Morgan, and continues with noted science educators including Maria C. Simani, Executive Director of the California Science Project and Joe Krajcik with CREATE for STEM Institute, who will lead a targeted series of sessions focused specifically for elementary and secondary educators.

Paid registrants also have an opportunity to sign up for a free special Disneyland Park STEM program the morning of  July 10–and receive 1 complementary 1-Day Park Hopper ticket to remain in  the Park after the STEM program. 

Seating for the summer institute is limited. Discounted prices are available for CSTA and NSTA members, so register today.

I Got the Job – What Do I Do? Part 4

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Rick Pomeroy

You have just accepted your first job and now the real work and worry begins. What will I teach, how will I set the perfect climate on the first day, how will I keep all of those students’ names straight, and stay up to date on all of that grading? These are very common questions for new teachers. Depending on the date when you accept the job, you will have anywhere from three to four months to prepare for the most important day of your new career. You may not know the exact teaching assignment, you might not even know which school, but that is not a reason sit and wait. Your students are going to show up for your classes on the first day and you need to be ready. So, what would I recommend? (more…)

FREE STEMposium for K-8 Teachers

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

California is on the cusp of major change in science education and with change comes hundreds of opportunities to attend conferences that promise to ease your pain and feelings of drowning in new information. With so many opportunities and so little time, it is important for teachers to choose conferences that will get them the most benefit for their time. Teachers need real resources and strategies they can use immediately without having to turn their current classroom structure upside down. This summer (June 22nd-26th) University Charter Schools and California State University Channel Islands will be hosting the Ventura County STEMposium where teachers can not only experience lessons as students, but will then immediately implement that learning by planning a STEM event for K-8 students. This was the brainchild of the UCS’ Science Lab Coach, Ann Ransom, whose vision is to make STEM activities less intimidating to teachers who may have limited experience or knowledge in implementing them. Many multiple subject teachers are uncomfortable with teaching in the STEM areas because they lack the resources or believe science is a subject they can’t successfully access. With the help of Ransom’s Director, Charmon Evans, the pair were able to secure a generous grant from CSU to make the 5-day Institute a FREE opportunity to educators. (more…)

Engaging Students by Monitoring Sand Crabs Through LiMPETS

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Jeff Kepper

Engaging Students by Monitoring Sand Crabs through LiMPETS

Many visitors to California’s beaches have witnessed young children digging in the sand for an elusive creature, the sand crab (more…)

Enjoy CSTA Membership Benefits with Your Family!

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

There has never been a better time to be a member of the California Science Teachers Association.  CSTA members:

  • Keep updated on NGSS implementation
  • Gather at the Annual Conference
  • Enhance their Knowledge & Skills
  • Share Teaching Tools & Resources
  • Influence State Education Policy

As the advocate for high quality science education in California for more than 50 years, the California Science Teachers Association offers networking, professional development, and advocacy to ensure state policies and legislation support you in inspiring your students. Members form a community of more than 2,500 K-6, middle school, and high school science teachers, college faculty, and educators.

There’s More! (more…)

Celestial Highlights for May 2015

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

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

Winter’s bright stars are departing in the west. In early May, while Mercury is visible, four planets can be seen simultaneously at dusk. Evenings from now well into July, three showpiece planets are available for telescopic observation. Venus and Jupiter are closing toward their spectacular rendezvous at the end of June.

In May, four of the 15 stars of first magnitude or brighter visible from mid-northern latitudes begin their annual leaves of absence, Evening Mid_Twilight. In order of departure, they are Rigel, Aldebaran, Sirius, and Betelgeuse. In June, Procyon, Capella, and Pollux will follow. These seven stars include all the stars of the huge Winter Hexagon, with Betelgeuse inside. (more…)

NSF Grant Survey

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Santa Rosa Junior College, in partnership with their School of Science and Sonoma State University, a number of CBO’s, and industry partners are laboring hard on an NSF grant proposal.

Santa Rosa Junior College is a Hispanic Serving Institution. To address our nation’s acute STEM education needs, our project proposes a minimum of six to nine teaching/leaning modules that will focus on historically difficult concepts in science. (more…)

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