May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

2016 – Already a Busy Year in California Science Education

Posted: Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

As I write this message, it is the waning days of January. Only the first month of 2016 and yet a great deal is happening in Science education within the California Science Teachers Association and the state of California as a whole. Indeed, this an exciting time to be a science educator. Let’s take a look back at all that has taken place these past few weeks.

California Science Framework Public Review Sessions

Science educators gathered in San Diego on December 2, 2015 to review and provide feedback on the first public draft of the California Science Curriculum Framework.

Science educators gathered in San Diego on December 2, 2015 to review and provide feedback on the first public draft of the California Science Curriculum Framework.

The beginning of January 2016 found California at the end of the first public review of the draft California Science Framework.  A dedicated, 25 member, CSTA NGSS Committee under the leadership of co-chairs Laura Henriques, Past President of CSTA, and Peter A’Hearn, CSTA Region 4 Director, coordinated 30 Framework review sessions in 22 California counties in which 625 educators participated. In addition, many people sent their feedback directly to the California Department of Education. The members of the NGSS committee, those that read the Framework, and those who attended and hosted review sessions, volunteered in order to make the Framework useful for all of us. This represents countless hours of personal time. You can be confident that CSTA will keep you informed about the dates for the 2nd public review of the draft CA Science Framework currently scheduled for June-July 2016. A copy of CSTA’s response to the first draft is available here (1MB). I will be attending the two meetings where public comments are considered (February 19 and March 18) by the Science Subject Matter Committee of the Instructional Quality Commission to advocate on behalf of CSTA membership.


California Science Education Conference – Palm Springs, October 21-23, 2016 (#cascience16)
Planning for the 2016 California Science Education Conference in Palm Springs is well underway with 3 planning meetings having already occurred, the most recent taking place on January 19th.  The committee, under the leadership of the 2016 Chair, CSTA President Elect, Jill Grace, is busy soliciting Workshop Proposals due March 4th, securing speakers, and organizing Field Courses. Workshops for the 2016 Conference have been extended from 60 minutes to 90 minutes in order for participants to dive more deeply into the shifts required by the Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS). I encourage all of you to consider submitting a workshop proposal and share with others how you are beginning to implement NGSS. Remember that lead presenters receive 50% off on conference registration and CSTA members receive a significant discount.



CA NGSS Rollout #3

NGSS Rollout #3 writers and presenters "flash" the Mobius strip sign after a long day of writing and planning for the next series of NGSS Rollouts.

NGSS Rollout #3 writers and presenters “flash” the Mobius strip sign after a long day of writing and planning for the next series of NGSS Rollouts.

The Doubletree in Claremont, California, January 24-25, was the home of the CA NGSS Rollout #3 Training of Trainers. Since October 2015, volunteers representing the California Science Teachers Association, K-12 Alliance, California Department of Education, California Science Project, and California County Superintendents Educational Services Association have worked tirelessly to create 2-3 hour long Workshops for the 3rd California Next Generation Science Standards Rollout. At the January meeting, educators who, beginning in April, will present the workshops across the state, were introduced to the new sessions and learned the finer points of presenting them. The CA NGSS Rollout Symposia are the outcome of Strategy 1 of the California Department of Education Implementation Plan for the CA NGSS which states:

“CDE participates with other professional learning stakeholder organizations to convene CA NGSS transition roll-out workshops and webinars for local teams of teacher leaders and administrators focused on the differentiated needs and standards for each grade span.”

Keep checking the CSTA website and reading California Classroom Science for CA NGSS Rollout #3 registration links. The first of these events will take place at the San Joaquin County Office of Education April 13 2016 8:00AM – April 14 2016 4:00PM. (#cangssrollout

California Next Generation Science Standards Early Implementation Initiative (@earlyimplement)

On January 21-23, over 100 science educators belonging to 8 California public school districts and 2 California Charter Organizations, took part in an intensive Mid-Year Leadership Training.  The event was guided by Kathy DiRanna, Statewide Director, K-12 Alliance/WestEd, K-12 Alliance Regional Directors, and District Project Directors.  Participants explored how to further advance NGSS education in their districts and better implement lesson sequences in their own classrooms.  To learn more about the experiences of the CA NGSS Early Implementers, continue to read California Classroom Science and check out these past articles:

In the coming months, keep your eyes open for these events and opportunities:

CSTA Committee Appointments

The 2015/2016 year saw a record number of volunteers staying connected to California science education by getting involved. The call for 2016/2017 committee members will be coming soon.  If you are currently volunteering on a committee, thank you for your time and service – I hope you consider submitting your name once again. If you are not currently on a committee, I encourage you to consider volunteering. Serving on a CSTA committee is an excellent way to hone your leadership skills, meet incredible California science educators, and stay up-to-date on what is happening in California science education.

CSTA Committees include:

  • 2017 Conference Committee
  • Outreach/Electronic Communications Committee
  • Legislative Oversight Committee
  • Marketing/Communications/Membership/Preservice Committee
  • NGSS Committee
  • Publications and Materials Review Committee

2016 California Science Education Conference (#cascience16)Registration Opens May 2016.

Palm Spring, October 21-23, 2016

2016 will be an exciting year for science education in California. Implementation of the California NGSS will be in year three, the California Science Curriculum Framework will be released for a second public review and may even be adopted before the end of the year, components of the state’s new accountability system will be on-line, and we will have a better idea of what to expect for science from our statewide assessment system.  The only place in California that will have information about all of these components as well as offer high quality educational workshops and opportunities for networking with fellow educators to talk about how this translates into your local context is at the 2016 California Science Education Conference.  No other event will bring together this many California science educators in one location that is large enough to offer the diversity of programming educators need, but also small enough to create an environment that

A Special Note of Thanks

Before I wrap up this month’s message I feel compelled to say something off topic.  One of the perks of being President of the California Science Teachers Association is that the un-edited version of the California Classroom Science arrives in my email inbox about a week earlier than the final draft goes out to our subscribers. It arrives with the intent of me providing edits (along with the edits made by our dedicated CSTA Publications Committee), but I often get so involved in the articles that I lose sight of my purpose. I just finished reading the February issue and was blown away by the articles. I continue to be impressed by the authors who give their personal time to share their insights with all of us. Thank you to all the authors of this issue, and those of past issues, for volunteering your time to contribute your expertise. Thank you also to the talented CSTA Publications Committee members who work long hours behind the scenes to put out California Classroom Science each month – Valerie Joyner, Minda Berbeco, Mary Elizabeth, Joanne Michael, and Jessica Sawko.

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.

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Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here:

Please contact Rosanne Luu at or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

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.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). 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.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. 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.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. 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.