January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Is NGSS the End of Science Fair?

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

by Peter A’Hearn

It’s science fair season again and time for my annual love/hate relationship with the science fair.

I love science fair because it gets some kids really excited about doing science and going deep into a topic which is where the real learning occurs. I love that families get excited and do science together—how powerful for kids and parents to work together to learn something new! I love talking to kids who are excited about their projects and what they did. My own daughters’ science fair projects have been among the most powerful learning they have done in their school years. Not just in science, but in reading, writing, learning how to do research, applying math, and being able to present themselves. (more…)

From Hot Asphalt to Solar Radiation

Monday, March 14th, 2016

by Philip Hudec

Imagine a group of sixth graders, challenging one another to see who can sit on the asphalt the longest, on a hot August day at a middle school in the Palm Springs Unified School District, where temperatures can reach 115° F. (This may sound crazy to you but believe me, students in our district really do this!) Our students know that it is hotter in the desert than in most other places.They know that if they stick to the white lines of the black top, they are less likely to burn their feet. They know that when splashing water on the pool deck, it will be cool enough, even if only for a few minutes, to sit on.

What they don’t know is why these facts are true. (more…)

Putting the Science CST into Perspective

Monday, March 14th, 2016

by Caleb Cheung and Jill Grace

The implementation of new policies always requires time to understand how the changes link to the previous expectations, as well as time to deeply understand the new demands. In the case of California’s Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS), one such challenge is how much emphasis should be placed on the science California Standards Test (CST), a test that was implemented in 2004 (grade 5) and 2006 (grades 8 and 10) and is aligned to the state’s previous California state science standards, adopted in 1998.   (more…)

CDE Reveals and State Board Approves California’s NGSS Summative Assessment Design Plan

Monday, March 14th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl and Jessica Sawko

After many months of collaboration with NGSS experts, assessment experts, other NGSS-adoption states, CSTA, science teachers, its testing contractor Educational Testing Service (ETS), and other stakeholders, the California Department of Education (CDE) presented its proposed design plan for the California Next Generation Science Standards General Summative Assessment. After approximately two hours of presentation and discussion, the State Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the design plan – allowing the development process to proceed on schedule toward the target of operational assessments in 2018/2019. The full proposal can be accessed from the agenda posted on the State Board of Education website – look for Item 2. A summary of the plan is posted on the CSTA website at http://www.cascience.org/csta/ngss_assessment.asp. (more…)

CSTA Board of Directors 2016-2018 Candidates

Monday, March 14th, 2016

The Nominations Committee of the California Science Teachers Association presents the following individuals for election to the CSTA Board of Directors for the 2016-2018 term. Voting will open on April 15, 2016 and close on May 17, 2016.

The election is being conducted electronically. CSTA members will be sent links to the online ballot via email. Members for whom we do not have current email addresses or who requested a paper ballot will be mailed a ballot.

The candidates for election for the 2016-2018 are: (more…)

Science Subject Matter Committee Considers Your Comments

Monday, March 14th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

On Friday, February 19th, the Instructional Quality Commission’s (IQC) Science Subject Matter Committee (SMC) met to discuss the field results from the first public review session of the draft California Science Framework.  The committee considered all of the over 2,000 suggested edits and revisions. As mentioned in February’s California Classroom Science, the California Science Teachers Association’s NGSS Committee sent in comments from 625 people who attended 30 Framework review sessions across California. Other organizations that submitted recommendations included Achieve, California Department of Education, Children Now, Code.org, and Lawrence Hall of Science. The meeting, held at the California Department of Education in Sacramento, was attended by, among others: (more…)

Online Survey to Improve Local Control and Accountability Plans

Monday, March 14th, 2016

SACRAMENTO – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced a new online survey to improve local educational agencies’ three-year plans to improve student achievement.

Knows as Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs), these are key tools for establishing goals to improve student outcomes and to align spending decisions with those goals. (more…)

The “All-American” Eclipse of the Sun in 2017: Free Booklet

Monday, March 14th, 2016

by Andrew Fraknoi

On August 21, 2017, there will be a total eclipse of the Sun visible from the U.S. (and only the US!) The path of what is being called the “All American” total eclipse is only about 60 miles wide and goes from a beach in Oregon to a beach in South Carolina, crossing the country diagonally. The partial eclipse will be visible to 500 million people in the other parts of the US and North America. (more…)

Designing the NGSS-Aligned Physical Science Assessment for Middle School

Monday, March 14th, 2016

California and its partner, Achieve, Inc., a collaborator in developing the NGSS, are part of the Next Generation Science Assessment (NGSA) Collaborative—a project to develop, test, and analyze sets of technology-supported diagnostic classroom assessments for middle school physical science.

The NGSA Collaborative project addresses core ideas in physical science by integrating middle school chemistry content of structure and properties of matter, chemical reactions, and energy with two science practices—constructing explanations and developing and using models. More information about the project, sample tasks, and classroom resources can be found on the NGSA Web site.



CSTA Welcomes New and Renewing Members from January and February 2016

Monday, March 14th, 2016


Our many thanks to the following 174 individuals for joining CSTA or renewing their membership in CSTA in the months of January and February 2016. CSTA has more than 3,000 members and represents science educators in call grade levels K-university. CSTA members enjoy the benefits of:

One-year, three-year, CSTA/NSTA joint membership, new teacher, retired teacher, and preservice teacher memberships are all options that CSTA offers. Visit our membership website for more information.

New and Renewing Members: (more…)

Engineering Made Easy: Understanding the Role of Engineering in NGSS

Monday, March 14th, 2016

by Cynthia Berger

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) put unprecedented emphasis on engineering as part of K-12 STEM instruction. In fact, the standards recommend that engineering be raised “to the same level as scientific inquiry when teaching science disciplines.”

But your school days are already crowded. Adding engineering to the mix can sound daunting—especially if you don’t have much experience with science or engineering. (more…)

Region 1 News & Events – Featuring Guest Contributor

Monday, March 14th, 2016

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

In addition to what is coming up below is a guest article summarizing some of the great things happening in Tuolumne County. Lucky you if you have been part of these activities! If not, and you live in this part of Region 1 maybe there is something you want to look into finding out more about. It is always great to hear from sister CSTA members out there about happenings – please continue sending them to me at mshaw@siskiyoucoe.net.   

Trinity County Office of Education Mobile STEAM Team will visit Douglas City School on April 20, 2016 for an Evening STEAM Event for kids K-8. (more…)

Celestial Highlights, March Through June 2016

Monday, March 14th, 2016

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Planet rising and setting graphs by Jeffrey L. Hunt

From early March through early June 2016, Earth overtakes all three bright outer planets within 90 days, each planet reaching peak brilliance and all-night visibility: Jupiter in early March, Mars in late May, and Saturn in early June. For several months following these dates of their oppositions, each respective planet will remain conveniently visible in the evening sky…at last! (more…)

Good Thinking! — That’s so Meta(cognitive)!

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

That’s so Meta(cognitive)! — investigates how explicitly teaching students metacognitive strategies helps them become more effective learners, able to integrate knowledge rather than just memorize isolated science facts and definitions.

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