January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

2017 Award Winners Announced!

Posted: Saturday, August 5th, 2017

by Lisa Hegdahl

Each year, the California Science Teacher Association’s Awards Committee has the honor of selecting the year’s Award winners from a slate of talented candidates. CSTA’s awards program solicits award nominations from the CSTA membership and the Board of Directors. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future.

2017 Award Winners:

  • 2017 Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award:  Dennis Mitchell, Evergreen Middle School, Cottonwood, CA
    The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. 
Dennis Mitchell Recipient, 2017 Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award

Dennis Mitchell
Recipient, 2017 Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award

Dennis Mitchell has lived a life dedicated to science education. When a career spans more than 42 years all of the specific examples of service, leadership, and commitment to science education become too long list. Several highlights in his career are notable and do illustrate the depth of his commitment to his students and his profession. In the 1990’s Dennis and his colleagues at Evergreen Middle School hosted teachers from across the North State region to see what integrated thematic instruction looked like. In the early 2000’s Dennis joined the content team of a 4-year CPEC project named ARISE that focused on making connections for rural science teachers to rich science and place-based resources both for their own content knowledge growth and to empower them to bring those resources back to the students they served. He was also a leader in teacher professional learning through a CA-MSP serving multiple northern counties and the CA Science Project. Each of those project resulted in teachers expanding their abilities and in turn becoming site content leads, leaders in other professional learning projects or replication of the professional resources back at their sites.While serving in these roles Dennis was always learning himself. When the CPEC Mars analog project introduced him to NASA’s imaging and mapping of Mars with THEMIS Dennis signed up his classes over several years to be part of the team searching for recognizable geologic features that could inform human understanding about the natural history of another planet. Dennis has never stopped being an educator. His contagious curiosity and enthusiasm for his own learning have inspired generations of students and teachers to do the same. He is more than deserving of this nomination and being recognized with the Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award.

  • 2017 CSTA Future Science Teacher Award:  Ayah Qutob, CSU Fresno & Kristell Yap, CSU Long Beach
    The CSTA Future Science Teacher Award recognizes college students who demonstrate an interest in and commitment to science education through volunteer, teaching, and professional organization activities and who show promise to become outstanding science educators.
Ayah Qutob Recipient, 2017 Future Science Teacher Award

Ayah Qutob
Recipient, 2017 Future Science Teacher Award

Ayah Qutob is a graduate of the credential program at Fresno State University. In his letter of recommendation Assistant Professor of Science Education at CSU Fresno and former CSTA board member Fred Nelson wrote: “Ms. Qutob’s commitment to her students emerges from her belief in the significance of learning science for success in life. ln service of this commitment, her knowledge of science is exceptional, and she is able to make relevant connections of natural phenomena to meaningful learning experiences. I have observed firsthand her content expertise in her student teaching placement, including an appropriate understanding of the Next Generation Science Standards. She has volunteered extensively with local science fairs and the Stellar Science and Circuit Science outreach programs. Ms. Qutob brings an enhanced sense of dedication to her future as a science teacher. I would be pleased to have my own grandchildren in her classroom, and confident of their success as learners as Ms. Qutob’s students.” Ms. Qutob is a current member of CSTA.

Kristell Yap Recipient, 2017 Future Science Teacher Award

Kristell Yap
Recipient, 2017 Future Science Teacher Award

Kristell Yap earned her single subject science credential in biology and chemistry from CSU, Long Beach. Her master teacher Leslie Appel had this to say about Ms. Yap: “Kristell is an extremely strong student teacher who constantly puts the students needs first. She gets along well with the students and is able to encourage the students to achieve their best. She understands the NGSS and incorporates these into her daily lessons. Kristell spends time after her assigned classes each day to make sure her lessons are ready for the next day. She seems to always strive to give her students the best education possible.” Ms. Yap has attended twice and even presented once at the California Science Education Conference and is an active member of CSTA.

  • 2017 CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award: Achieve & National Center for Science Education
    The CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award honors an organization, institution or foundation which has made a sustained, significant impact to science education in the state and which, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching and learning. No more than two CSTA Distinguished Contributions Awards will be given in any year. National Center for Science Education

National Center for Science Education


The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) programs support teachers, engage scientists and organize local communities to ensure that evolution and climate change are taught without compromise. They are vigilant in monitoring for anti-science legislation, inaccurate textbooks, and compromised science standards, and effectively organize local responses whenever problems arise. Here in California, NCSE has consistently been responsive to needs of science educators in the state and have a long track record of supporting CSTA and its members. Employees of the NCSE have served as CSTA board members, authored articles for California Classroom Science, and presented at the California Science Education Conference.Most recently, the NCSE has taken an active role in CA NGSS. One such example is supporting the California Science Framework review process by providing public input. In addition, they supported writers of the CA NGSS Roll Out 4 Grades 6-8 Integrated Learning Sequence by helping to track down data that could be used to strengthen incorporation of Analysis of Data and Mathematics and Computational Thinking in the sequence. They also supplied information and raffle items to each of the Roll Out 4 host sites so educators would know a support mechanism for the teaching of evolution and climate change existed. Most recently, with climate propaganda being sent directly to teachers across the state, they have been immediately responsive to teachers who needed guidance on messaging around such tactics. They are an important and valuable resource to our membership. NCSE exemplifies the vision of the Distinguished Contributions Award for their leadership, service, and positive impact.



Created in 1996 by a bipartisan group of governors and business leaders, Achieve is a nonprofit education organization that has spent two decades leading the effort to help states make college and career readiness a priority for all students. Achieve is also well-known for their work in facilitating the development of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Throughout the NGSS review and adoption process in California, Achieve was very active in supporting the work of the Science Expert Panel, State Board of Education, and California Department of Education. Once NGSS was adopted, Achieve spent a great deal of time and energy helping CSTA and other stakeholders understand NGSS. California, as a Lead State, was invited to several Achieve sponsored events around NGSS and they always made it possible for us to have a contingent of people attend. Achieve staff was present throughout the development of the California Curriculum Framework process. They provided support to the committee and testified at State Board of Education meetings.

Achieve has been a partner and contributor to our conferences. Their former vice president Stephen Pruitt has been a keynote speaker several times, and other Achieve staff have attended and supported the CSTA Fostering Leadership Event and presented workshops. CSTA partnered with Achieve to provide NGSS communication training to teachers and science education leaders. Having Achieve be a regular and strong presence in California to support our work around NGSS transition and implementation has been a critical component of the implementation process. Their work supports CSTA’s efforts to promote high-quality education for California’s students.

  • 2017 Christine Bertrand Advocacy Award: Stephen Blake, Children Now
    The Christine Bertrand Advocacy Award is named for CSTA’s former executive director Christine Bertrand. Christine served as CSTA’s executive director 1996-2011. Under her leadership, CSTA achieved many advocacy victories for science education. In 2015, the CSTA Board of Directors established the Christine Bertrand Advocacy Award to honor her service to science education. The award honors an individual(s) who demonstrate a commitment to quality science education in California, going beyond expected levels of involvement. The award recognizes outstanding advocacy and championing of quality science education. Nominated and bestowed by the Board of Directors, no more than two awards will be given per year.

Stephen Blake has been a friend of CSTA’s for more than four years. In his capacity as Senior Advisor at Children Now, Stephen has been a strong advocate for many of the same policy issues that are of priority to CSTA, including but not limited to, the adoption of NGSS, science curriculum framework development, and science assessment and inclusion in of this assessment in our state’s accountability system. In addition, Stephen has used his years of experience and connections in California’s education system to help CSTA become more effective and efficient advocates as well as add volume to our voice. Stephen Blake has been involved in public education and governmental reform in California for twenty-five years. In addition to his role at Children Now, Stephen is the principal of Stephen G. Blake and Associates, which provides policy, fiscal, and development consultation to non-profit, governmental, and private entities, including Pivot Learning Partners, Fuse Corps, and New America Foundation. Previously, Stephen served as Executive Director of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Governor’s Committee on Education Excellence, whose recommendations have served as the foundation for efforts to enhance financial flexibility, promote equity, strengthen teacher effectiveness, expand early education, and improve our data and accountability systems; and as Chief Consultant to the Legislature’s Joint Committee to Develop a Master Plan for Education, which produced a first-in-the-nation blueprint for all levels of education. He preceded those efforts with eleven years of advocacy and system policy development for the California State University, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the State Board of Education, and he was a member of the leadership team for the California Education Summit conducted by Assembly Speaker Willie L. Brown, Jr. Stephen earned his baccalaureate degree in philosophy from Princeton University in 1986.

Awards will be presented during the Award’s Luncheon at the California Science Education Conference in Sacramento, October 13-15, 2017. Congratulations to all of the Award Winners! (For additional information about the awards visit www.cascience.org/csta/programs_awards.asp)


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Written by Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl is an 8th-grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA and is Past-President of CSTA.

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Accelerating into NGSS – A Statewide Rollout Series Now Accepting Registrations

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Are you feeling behind on the implementation of NGSS? Then Accelerating into NGSS – the Statewide Rollout event – is right for you!

If you have not experienced Phases 1-4 of the Statewide Rollout, or are feeling behind with the implementation of NGSS, the Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout will provide you with the greatest hits from Phases 1-4!

Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout is a two-day training geared toward grade K-12 academic coaches, administrators, curriculum leads, and teacher leaders. Check-in for the two-day rollout begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast. Sessions run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Day One and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Day Two.

Cost of training is $250 per attendee. Fee includes all materials, continental breakfast, and lunch on both days. It is recommended that districts send teams of four to six, which include at least one administrator. Payment can be made by check or credit card. If paying by check, registration is NOT complete until payment has been received. All payments must be received prior to the Rollout location date you are attending. Paying by credit card secures your seat at time of registration. No purchase orders accepted. No participant cancellation refunds.

For questions or more information, please contact Amy Kennedy at akennedy@sjcoe.net or (209) 468-9027.



MARCH 28-29, 2018
Host: San Mateo County Office of Education
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

APRIL 10-11, 2018
Host: Orange County Office of Education
Location: Brandman University, Irvine

MAY 1-2, 2018
Host: Tulare County Office of Education
Location: Tulare County Office of Education, Visalia

MAY 3-4, 2018
Host: San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools
Location: West End Educational Service Center, Rancho Cucamonga

MAY 7-8, 2018
Host: Sacramento County Office of Education
Location: Sacramento County Office of Education Conference Center and David P. Meaney Education Center, Mather

JUNE 14-15, 2018
Host: Imperial County Office of Education
Location: Imperial Valley College, Imperial

Presented by the California Department of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association/County Offices of Education, K-12 Alliance @WestEd, California Science Project, and the California Science Teachers Association.

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.

The Teaching and Learning Collaborative, Reflections from an Administrator

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

by Kelly Patchen

My name is Mrs. Kelly Patchen, and I am proud to be an elementary assistant principal working in the Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) at Louis Bohn and McKinley Elementary Schools. Each of the schools I support are Title I K-5 schools with about 450 students, a diverse student population, a high percentage of English Language Learners, and students living in poverty. We’re also lucky to be part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative with the K-12 Alliance. 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 California NGSS k-8 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.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

Posted: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

CSTA is pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals for 90-minute workshops and three- and six-hour short courses for the 2018 California Science Education Conference. Workshops and short courses make up the bulk of the content and professional learning opportunities available at the conference. In recognition of their contribution, members who present a workshop or short course receive 50% off of their registration fees. Click for more information regarding proposals, or submit one today by following the links below.

Short Course Proposal

Workshop Proposal 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.

CSTA’s New Administrator Facebook Group Page

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Holly Steele

The California Science Teachers Association’s mission is to promote high-quality science education, and one of the best practice’s we use to fulfill that mission is through the use of our Facebook group pages. CSTA hosts several closed and moderated Facebook group pages for specific grade levels, (Elementary, Middle, and High School), pages for district coaches and science education faculty, and the official CSTA Facebook page. These pages serve as an online resource for teachers and coaches to exchange teaching methods, materials, staying update on science events in California and asking questions. CSTA is happy to announce the creation of a 6th group page called, California Administrators Supporting Science. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

Find Your Reason to Engage

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Jill Grace

I was recently reflecting on events in the news and remembered that several years ago, National Public Radio had a story about a man named Stéphane Hessel, a World War II French resistance fighter, Nazi concentration camp survivor, and contributor to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The story focused on a book he had published, Time for Outrage (2010).

In it, Hessel makes the argument that the worst attitude is indifference:

“Who is in charge; who are the decision makers? It’s not always easy to discern. We’re not dealing with a small elite anymore, whose actions we can clearly identify. We are dealing with a vast, interdependent world that is interconnected in unprecedented ways. But there are unbearable things all around us. You have to look for them; search carefully. Open your eyes and you will see. This is what I tell young people: If you spend a little time searching, you will find your reasons to engage. The worst attitude is indifference. ‘There’s nothing I can do; I get by’ – adopting this mindset will deprive you of one of the fundamental qualities of being human: outrage.  Our capacity for protest is indispensable, as is our freedom to engage.”

His words make me take pause when I think of the status of science in the United States. A general “mistrust” of science is increasingly pervasive, as outlined in a New Yorker article from the summer of 2016. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.