January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

New California Framework Provides NGSS Inspiration

Friday, December 11th, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

After over a year in development, the California Curriculum Science Framework and Evaluation Criteria document is ‘LIVE’ for a 60-day public review period, November 17, 2015 through January 19, 2016.  During that time, all of us can read the current draft of the CA Science Framework and provide feedback to the California Department of Education (CDE).

I had the honor of sitting on the Science Curriculum Frameworks and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC) that worked on the development of the CA Science Framework. From September 2014 – May 2015, the 20 members of the committee read, and re-read, the draft chapters of the CA Science Framework, providing comments and suggestions to the team of writers and the CDE.  Now that my responsibilities with the CFCC are complete, I look at the Framework, not as a Committee member, but as a teacher who will use it as a tool to help me make the necessary conceptual shifts in my teaching so that my students can make sense of the world around them. (more…)

Planning STEM-Based Professional Development – A Behind the Scenes Look

Friday, December 11th, 2015

by Myra Pasquier

Committing to the planning of 15+ hours of teacher professional development in Science content for the California NGSS Early Implementer Institute that took place in Vista, California last summer was a daunting task. One major advantage was the collaboration that took place between my team members – Stephen Tsui, PhD, physics professor at California State University, San Marcos, and Kathryn Schulz, Regional Director of the San Diego Science Project. Our mission: put together a 5th Grade Physical Science content story line (also known as a Conceptual Flow) featuring the structure and properties of matter and its interactions. The story needed to be aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for both Mathematics and Language Arts, modeling the cross-curricular elements of (STEM) education.

With our mission envelope tucked under our arm, we started the brainstorming process of developing a Conceptual Flow for our story that would unfold for the teachers. With piles of multi-colored sticky notes, chart paper, and sharpies as our tools we embarked on our task. Different sized concept notes scattered the chart paper and were in constant motion as we debated back and forth about their placement in the story. Were the concepts appropriate for our objectives? Did they make the story flow and be seamless? Was the story complete with a beginning, a middle, and an end? As hours went by, and the Conceptual Flow began to take shape, a sense of euphoria grew from a combination of fatigue and exhilaration at our accomplishments. And this was just the beginning. (more…)

NGSS – Putting the STEM in STEM

Friday, December 11th, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

“Our proposed design uses waves with a frequency of 5,000 Hz to detect the tumor. We are getting our best resolution of the tumor when we are 7 cm away, which is one wavelength of the sound waves that we are using. Our proposed App would include a set of wheels for smooth tracking and image the body as a grid to help determine location.”

Is this an episode of Shark Tank? No this was a group of teachers at the Project Prototype* 2015 Summer Institute. Project Prototype is a California Math Science Partnership Grant in the Coachella Valley focused on the integration of science and engineering through the NGSS. Secondary science teachers were focusing on the middle and high school standards on Waves and their Applications in Information Technology. The week began with a visit to the Desert Regional Medical Center where teachers got to learn about and experience the different uses of waves in medical imaging technology from the ultrasound used to view soft tissue, to X-rays, CAT scans, MRI, and PET. A highlight was the Stereotaxis Machine used to visualize and guide a catheter to a stroke in a patient’s brain. (more…)

Classroom Technology – Some Great Apps and Tools

Friday, December 11th, 2015

by Elizabeth Cooke

Often, I have a student helper to take pictures of the class at work conducting design challenges, exploring in the garden, or creating physical models of phenomena discussed during science class. The pictures generally end up on the bulletin board to document the students’ discoveries and provide empirical evidence for parents, administrators, and for inspiring students at large. The student helper, in addition to taking pictures, also interviews three other students about what they have learned using voice memo app for me to transcribe later and add to the bulletin board. (more…)

STEM in the Classroom – Find a Place to Start

Friday, December 11th, 2015

by Sue Campbell

STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. While they don’t always have to be taught together, when you do, it is almost magic. To shift your lesson strategy, all you have to do is find a place in a lesson and start.

For me, the shift began with a question from one of my eighth grade students about what made instant hot packs get hot. We had just finished completing some investigations on endothermic and exothermic reactions when the question was raised. Although I knew that different reactants were involved in the hot packs, I realized that this was an opportunity to introduce an application of scientific understanding. I drafted a letter from a fictitious company asking students to create the most cost effective instant hot pack using only the materials owned by the company. Students had to design their own tests, collect data, and then write a proposal to the company, complete with supporting data. Students floundered a bit as they worked to find ways to organize their tests and data. They realized they needed to be careful and precise as they recorded the information. We, fortunately, had a set of probeware thermometers on loan from the Office of STEM Educational Services at San Joaquin County Office of Education that allowed students to be very accurate with their measurements. (more…)

A Primary Engineering Unit Template

Friday, December 11th, 2015

by George Feldman and Joey Noelle Lehnhard

For the past few years, as a teacher in a bilingual first grade classroom in rural central California, I’ve been having my students conduct some simple engineering design challenges. The engineering activities are a good way to address the demands of state testing and the intensive English Language Arts and Math curriculum, because they can provide an authentic context for integrating different subjects. I hope this week-long lesson template might inspire you to try some engineering activities with your students. (more…)

Happenings Around Region 1

Friday, December 11th, 2015

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Representing CSTA Region 1 counties – from Tuolumne to Del Norte – is pretty awesome. These counties represent the large northern rural stretches and small towns of nearly half the land area of our state. Not surprisingly, many teachers from Region 1 were in attendance at the NSTA Regional Conference in Reno, NV. As the Region 1 Director it only made sense for me to head over to Reno and be present at the CSTA table and I was delighted to see so many familiar faces, from so many counties!

My presence there was not just for the north easterners, it was for all of CSTA. I was there as a CSTA Board Member in a shared booth with our sister organization the Nevada State Science Teachers Association (NSSTA) as their guest. A big thank you to all of the NSSTA board members and booth volunteers who made me feel so welcome, and congratulations on a great conference! I look forward to seeing many of them presenting at CSTA in Palm Springs a year from now, as well as sharing our booth to greet Nevada teachers who will be attending! (more…)

Interested in Getting the Most Bang for Your Teaching Buck?

Friday, December 11th, 2015

by Kristen Hurst

Designed by freepik.com

Designed by freepik.com

Teaching can be expensive. Sometimes it feels like buying that amazing set of manipulatives or that new professional learning book you have had your eye on is breaking the bank. Sound familiar? What if there was a way to spend a small amount of money, yet reap multiple benefits? California Science Teachers Association has got you covered and is proud to support the tireless efforts of teachers. Now is the perfect time to sign up for a CSTA membership!


STEM Family Night – Fun Learning Night for All!

Friday, December 11th, 2015

by Joanne Michael

Seven years ago, a colleague and I were working on getting accepted to NASA Advanced Space Camp for Educators. We had been to basic camp, loved the experience, and knew for us to be accepted for Advanced Camp that we had to do something big. We decided to do a Space Night at our elementary school, have a pre-registration sign-up, invite scientists and educators from around Los Angeles come to do a 45-minute workshop, and it would be just the thing to get us accepted. 7 years later, Science Night is now the biggest event of the school year, with over 2/3 of the student body and their families attending on a Friday night in the spring (and yes, we were both accepted into Advanced Camp!). (more…)

What’s Up Region 2 aka Bay Area?!

Friday, December 11th, 2015

by Minda Berbeco

As we get towards the end of the year, many of you might be getting ready for a winter break. But we here at CSTA headquarters never rest! We are constantly thinking about the next awesome thing that we can connect you with – and as the year comes to an end and we start to think about the next year, there is a lot to share!

So, what is going on? Well, a lot! (more…)

The “S” in STEM: The Search for Science in STEM TK-2

Friday, December 11th, 2015

by Valerie Joyner

Young children are naturally curious about their world. Their curiosity engages them in science activities every day as they watch salt dissolve, rain fall, or bubbles float and pop. They build ramps and bridges from blocks and cardboard, and contraptions to solve everyday problems that show their innate ability to engage in engineering. This inquisitive nature is the basis for STEM education in our youngest students and builds the foundation for increasingly more complex problem solving as students move through the grades. (more…)

Celestial Highlights, December 2015 Through Early January 2016

Friday, December 11th, 2015

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

In evening twilight in December, the Summer Triangle is well up in the west, getting lower as the month progresses. Its brightest member is blue-white Vega, at its northwest (lower right) corner. Altair marks the southern point of the Triangle, and Deneb the northeast corner, above Vega. [Follow the Summer Triangle within the first hour after sunset until mid-January.]

Solitary Fomalhaut, marking the mouth of the Southern Fish, drifts low across the southern sky in December evening twilight. From late in December’s second week into early January, try for Mercury very low in the southwestern twilight glow; binoculars make the search easier.

Yellowish Capella climbs in the northeast, while to its lower right, ascending in east-northeast to east, we find red-orange Aldebaran, eye of Taurus the Bull. This star is at opposition to the Sun each year around the start of December, so as we gaze at that star then, we face almost directly away from the Sun. Low in the east below Taurus, rising into view during twilight in late December, we find Orion’s two brightest stars, reddish Betelgeuse marking one shoulder, and blue-white Rigel marking his upraised foot. Robert Frost, in the opening lines of his poem The Star Splitter, described the scene: “You know Orion always comes up sideways, throwing one leg up over our fence of mountains…” Rising at about the same time, or just a bit later from southern California, are Pollux (and Castor above it, not plotted because it is not quite first magnitude), the bright stars of Gemini, the Twins. (more…)

Consider Supporting CSTA with an End of Year Donation

Friday, December 11th, 2015

by Laura Henriques

I don’t know about you, but I get greeting cards, mailing labels, wrapping paper and even holiday ornaments in the mail – all from organizations hoping that I will open my checkbook and make an end of the year donation. That ploy doesn’t usually work for me.

Instead, I choose to donate to organizations whose goals and missions align with mine. I like to give to organizations which do good work and spend their money wisely. CSTA is one of those organizations and it is why I am giving an end of year donation. I would like to invite you to consider doing so as well.

CSTA has a small paid staff and a huge volunteer staff. In spite of a relatively small, carefully monitored budget, CSTA manages to do some pretty impressive work. (more…)

Alan Alda’s Flame Challenge Ignites Curiosity for Science

Friday, December 11th, 2015

Alan Alda, a founding member of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, started the Flame Challenge in 2012 to have scientists answer the question, “What is a flame?,” in a way that resonated with 11-year-old students. Last year, 20,000 students from around the world voted on hundreds of entries to find ones that best answered the question, “What is sleep?”

The Flame Challenge, an annual contest held by the Alda Center, works to ignite excitement and a lifelong curiosity for science in children.

“I came up with this contest as a fun challenge for scientists to explain a complex thing like a flame in a way that would make it clear to an 11-year-old,” said Alan Alda, an actor, writer and visiting professor in Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism. “The idea was to urge scientists to communicate more clearly. I didn’t realize what an extraordinary learning experience it was going to be for the 11-year-olds. By now, tens of thousands of kids from all over the world have excitedly delved into the mysteries of nature as they’ve judged the scientists’ entries.” (more…)

Search Begins for California’s Best High School Water Research Project

Friday, December 11th, 2015

Call for Applications Begins: California Water Environment Association looking for best and brightest high school student in California to represent state in global Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition. Applications due by April 15, 2016.

The California Water Environment Association (CWEA) is opening the application process for the Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP), an annual water research competition for California high school students. Applications are due by April 15, 2016.

The Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition is the world’s most prestigious water-science competition for students. The winner of the California competition will advance to the national level, and the winner of that event will represent America at the global competition in Sweden. (more…)

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