September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Are You Prepared to Participate in the Discussions?

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

I recently found myself a participant in two separate conversations regarding topics of which all California teachers of Science should be knowledgeable.  One was in regards to the current status of the California Standards Tests (CSTs) and the other was in regards to High School course structures in light of the new California assessment for Science.  As many of us will attend district, school, and department meetings in preparation for the new school year, updating our knowledge about the most recent decisions that will affect California Science education will be time well spent. (more…)

New Conference Website, 700+ Registrations, and Featured Speakers Galore

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

by Jessica Sawko

It is with great excitement that I began this post…700+ registrations for the 2016 California Science Education Conference, and we are not even at the end of August! We have not seen conference numbers this high since 2007, so I can tell already that this is going to be a big conference. I can understand why as well. Not only is implementation of California’s new science standards starting to receive some attention at schools and districts all over the state – but this year’s 2016 conference has undergone a transformation that is sure to provide attendees with the content, experience, resources, connections, and information they are looking for. In order to help you navigate all of the wonderful components of the 2016 California Science Education Conference CSTA has launched a brand new conference website.

With this many advance registrations, ticketed events are starting to fill. So if you haven’t already registered – I recommend you do so today. Not sure your principal or supervisor will approve or fund your participation? CSTA has developed a letter targeting leaders/administrators as well as complied useful information on how to fund your conference participation and a conference expense planner. You can find all three online(more…)

Science & Engineering Practices for Science Fairs Infographic

Friday, August 19th, 2016

Infographic

Click to download a PDF of the infographic

The non-profit Synopsys Silicon Valley Science & Technology Outreach Foundation enables students and teachers developing science projects at more than 750 California schools each year. As teachers process methods to implement Next Generation Science Standards, we suggest that hands-on science projects and science fair competitions are the perfect vehicles for implementing NGSS. (more…)

Sensemaking Notebooks: Making Thinking Visible for Both Students and Teachers!

Friday, August 19th, 2016

by Karen Cerwin

“Students can’t yet write independently without basic sentence frames.  Their thoughts are usually bigger than what they can put on paper.” – Kindergarten Teacher

This quote works for everyone; our thoughts are usually bigger than what anyone can put on paper! Yet, our job as educators is to help students learn to communicate their thinking in meaningful ways. One strategy is to use science notebooks in the classroom in a way that aligns with how scientists use their notebooks in their daily work.

Scientists use notebooks as a “thinking journal” in which they record observations and thoughts about a phenomenon they are investigating. They propose ideas, research how others have thought about the phenomenon, do original investigations, edit and refine their thinking as they gather more data, generate more questions for further study. Scientist notebooks are living documents that reflect the author’s thinking.  Thus their notebooks are unique and individual to that scientist’s ideas. (more…)

Why Students with Special Needs Need Science in Your Classroom

Friday, August 19th, 2016

by Scott Campbell

I am a resource-level special education teacher. Like you, I teach students. As in most classrooms, my students’ skill levels run the gamut from very low to approaching grade level. Unlike you, I do not specifically teach science. Students in my resource program do not qualify for services in science. They qualify for services in the specific areas of reading, writing, math, listening, and speaking. They are pulled out of the regular education classroom for those services. I do my best to schedule these services so there is minimal disruption to you, but the number of students to be seen and the number of minutes available to me limits me. I want us to be partners in the education of our students and I need you to know that my students need to have science in your classroom. (more…)

Student Experiments to See the Edge of Space

Friday, August 19th, 2016

by Joanne Michael

A view of Southern California from 90,000 feet.

A view of Southern California from 90,000 feet.
Click image for a larger view.

Three years ago, I had a dream- I wanted to work with my students to send a weather balloon with experiments into the edge of space. I had colleagues around the country that had done it with their schools, and I was loving every moment of their stories. Their students were coming up with the experiments, talking with scientists, spending months learning about meteorology, weather patterns, calculating the speed and trajectory- all things that I wanted to have my students experience. Not knowing how to fund it, or really how to do it in the first place, I tried writing grants, getting sponsors, talking to aerospace companies, but came up empty-handed. My school district is located in a very financially wealthy area, and so we do not qualify for many grants. In addition, I teach elementary school (I’m a hands-on science educator, teaching the entire K-5 school), and the majority of grants that my area would allow my to apply for were for middle and high school teachers- not elementary. (more…)

Preparing for New School Year: Supporting High School Students’ Science Motivation

Friday, August 19th, 2016

by Sandra Simpkins and Yangyang Liu

When science teachers prepare for a new school year, they often think about how they can teach their students science concepts and principles in an interesting way. Not only is it important to spark students’ initial interest in science, but is also key to help maintain students’ interest in science. Without that continued support, students who were once interested in science run the risk of losing that interest (Renninger & Hidi, 2016). In fact, 45% of 10th grade students interested in pursuing a STEM career (that is, a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics career) lost that interest by the end of high school (Aschbacher, Li, & Roth, 2010) – making high school a critical time for science. High school is often the first time when students can opt out of science coursework as most states require less than four years of science coursework to graduate. When students lose interest in science, they are less likely to take elective science courses – which hinders their college science prospects. (more…)

Finding New Resources in a Changing Science Education Landscape

Friday, August 19th, 2016

by Amity Sandage

Field studies at Santa Cruz County Outdoor Science School

Field studies at Santa Cruz County Outdoor Science School

After two decades in education, I still love the natural rhythm of the school year. It is the teacher’s turn in the learning cycle. Reflections at the end of each school year spark new ideas that then flow and percolate throughout the summer. And I know come August I always find myself excited and apprehensive in equal measure. Excited to improve and try new approaches, and apprehensive because I need some concrete resources to accomplish the goals that began as visions floating around in my head and morphed and settled over summer into real plans. But where and how to find these resources when fall is fast approaching and NGSS is changing the landscape? (more…)

California Health Education Framework Focus Groups – Call for Volunteers

Friday, August 19th, 2016

The California Department of Education, State Board of Education, and Instructional Quality Commission are just beginning the three-year process of revising the Health Framework.

Please apply for appointment to a Focus Group to provide input regarding what guidance and information should be included in the revised framework to support the implementation of the Health Education Content Standards.

Completed applications are due September 15, 2016.

Application forms are available online at: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/he/cf/. (more…)

State Schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson Announces Launch of #GoOpen Initiative and Collaboration in Common Professional Learning Community

Friday, August 19th, 2016

SACRAMENTO—California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced the launch of both a new statewide #GoOpen initiative and Collaboration in Common, an online professional learning community and resource exchange platform for all California educators.

In joining the #GoOpen initiative, California becomes the sixteenth state recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for its commitment to support school districts and educators transitioning to the use of high-quality, openly licensed educational resources. (more…)

New Resource: Second Release of NGSS Example Bundles

Friday, August 19th, 2016

The Example Bundles (formerly known as the Model Content Frameworks for Science) will show samples of ways to bundle the NGSS within a school year. “Bundling” is an important strategy for implementing standards, as it brings coherence to instruction and greatly reduces the amount of instructional time necessary.

In June, Achieve released the first set of Example Bundles which featured the following resources:

  • Kindergarten Bundles (Thematic Model and Topics Model)
  • Middle School Course I Models (Phenomenon and Topics Model)
  • High School Course I Models (Conceptual Progressions Model and Domains Model – Chemistry)
  • NGSS Example Bundles Guide

(more…)

Next Generation Science Standards, STEAM, and the Use of Virtual Reality (VR)

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

by Anne Mangahas. Ed.D.

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) with its interdisciplinary approach, is much like the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in building a cohesive understanding of the process of science. Studies show that the Arts use right brain thinking to foster creativity, a quality essential to innovation and problem solving. This new paradigm within STEAM offers students the best opportunities in developing the skills necessary to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Virtual Reality Technology has been shown to enhance student comprehension of complex topics and is beneficial for children with variances in cognitive ability. The interaction involved in virtual reality engages learners by creating a holistic medium that incorporates kinesthetic, cognitive, and affective domains. This experience-heavy quality of VR environments is crucial to the learning process as it provides vibrant contexts. (more…)

Celestial Highlights, August 2016

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt

August 2016 has rare gifts for skywatchers — for most of the month, all five naked-eye planets can be seen during evening twilight, and they participate in beautiful pairings and groupings! From a site with an unobstructed view of the western horizon, begin within half an hour after sunset, to catch Venus before it sinks too low. Use our evening twilight chart and diagrams selected from the Abrams Planetarium Sky Calendar to guide you.

Venus at mag. –3.8 will be visible with unaided eye. (It will get higher in coming months, setting in a dark sky starting in October, climbing highest in January 2017, and reaching spectacular brilliance at mag. –4.8 in February, before quickly departing from the evening sky in late March.) Links to graphs of planet setting times in 2016-2017: [SoCal] [NorCal]
(more…)

Everybody In! Using Cultural Awareness to Support Diverse Classrooms

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

by Emily Schoerning

California science teachers work with some of the most diverse student populations in the country. Finding ways to help students from all sorts of backgrounds achieve in the science classroom can be a real challenge. Learning science often means learning a lot of vocabulary, but it also means learning how to present scientific arguments and utilize the scientific method. By recognizing the intense language and cultural demands of classroom science, we can help to build inclusive environments where diverse students can succeed. (more…)

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