January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 2017)


Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. (more…)

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. (more…)

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. (more…)

CA Science Framework to Implement NGSS Statewide Rollout#4

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Register today for one of several NGSS Rollout #4: Using California Science Curriculum Framework to Implement NGSS scheduled for this fall across the state – registration is now open for all locations.

Upcoming Dates in 2017:

San Bernardino County/Riverside County: August 22-23, 2017
Registration Deadline: August 8, 2017
Location: Bourns College of Engineering, UC Riverside
446 Winston Chung Hall
Riverside, CA 92507 (more…)

Learning Across the Village: Planning K-12 Projects

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Matthew Leader, Shelley Glenn Lee, Chris Olivas, Kelly Jacob, and Ryan Gallagher

“ The most interesting thing I learned about trout was how much work it takes to keep them alive and in good health.” -Emma, 3rd Grader

It certainly takes a village to ensure that our students are learning about content that matters to them. Content that is rich in phenomena, allowing students to see the relevance of science in their lives, and preparing them for the real world. The High Tech High core principles of equity, personalization, authenticity, and collaboration help govern how projects are planned.  As all teachers know, it can be challenging to develop projects that push ALL students to produce high-quality work to the best of their ability levels. With an opportunity from The Escondido Creek Conservancy to raise trout in the classroom, the High Tech High North County K-12 schools saw a chance to do just that by communicating and scaffolding methods developed as teachers in the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. (more…)

Farewell from Galt, CA

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017


McCaffrey Middle School, Galt, CA

by Lisa Hegdahl

I am typically not a reflective person. Instead, I tend to get swept up in the day to day moments of teaching, meetings, phone calls, and home life. With one exception – the end of the school year.

While my 8th graders are enjoying the many ends of Middle School activities, I spend the last week of the academic year re-filing, re-packing, and re-organizing a classroom I have lost the battle to somewhere back in October. As the last day winds down, my students stack all the lab tables against the far wall and we are finished for the year. Gathering the last items from my refrigerator, I begin to head out the door for summer ‘vacation’. At this moment, every year, something stops me. I turn around and look back at my clean, bare-floored classroom. Without intention, I remember all that took place there in the past 180 days with 150 students who have now gone on to high school. I remember laughter and struggles, and, at times, a little chaos. I hope that somehow during all that time, I provided my students with valuable experiences and that I was patient and kind to them. For most of them, I will never know. (more…)

Engineer Turned Classroom Teacher

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Patrick Chan and Susheela Nath

I spent 18 years employed as an engineer. Teaching science was the furthest thing from my mind the day I walked into the president’s office to discuss cutbacks at the company where I had spent the past eight of those years working as a quality assurance manager. When I left the office, my name was added to the unemployment list. It was that moment, at the age of 42, that I decided to change careers and become a science teacher. I am now in my 14th year of teaching middle school science and high school physics. Reflecting on this recently, I have found several parallels between the two careers. (more…)

Celestial Highlights, August and September 2017 – With a little more on the solar eclipse of August 21

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times for School Year 2017-18 by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

Eclipse! The summer of 2017 marks the 54th anniversary of my first successful expedition to observe a total solar eclipse. The date was July 20, 1963, when our carload of graduate students in astronomy from University of Michigan made the long drive to the path of totality in Quebec. Cumulus clouds parted, and we had a spectacular view. I was hooked! I hope some of you have a chance to make the journey to this summer’s total eclipse somewhere within its narrow track from Oregon to South Carolina. This event is part of the same Saros series as the eclipse I saw in 1963. The eclipses belonging to a Saros are spaced at intervals of 18 years plus 11 and one-third days, so after three Saros intervals, called an Exeligmos, a solar eclipse very much like the one in 1963 happens again within a similar track through our region of the world, only farther south. Instead of Alaska through Canada and Maine as in ‘63, the ringside seats on Monday, August 21, 2017 will be in Oregon to South Carolina, making this eclipse an exclusively American event. (more…)

Demystifying the NGSS

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Clea Matson

As with any transition in education, supporting teachers in their own learning about the what, how, and why of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is incredibly important. Since it was announced in 2013 that California would be adopting the NGSS, the California Academy of Sciences (CAS) Teacher Professional Development team has been designing and implementing a series of workshops meant to educate and reassure teachers as they make their way through the implementation timeline. Materials and strategies from the first workshop in this series, Introduction to the NGSS, is available as the free online resource NGSS Demystified: A Free Toolkit for Training Teachers. (more…)

What Do Teachers Do?

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Joseph Calmer

There is a quote from the newly published version of the California Framework:

“Teachers and administrators will not only have to consider a new context and programs, but they will need to think differently about their roles and their day-to-day work. The entire educational system will need to consider how to support these shifts throughout teacher and administrator careers (from pre-service to in-service) and how to implement policies and programs to support the transition from the awareness phase of the CA NGSS through and beyond the full implementation phase of the CA NGSS.” (Education, 2016) (more…)

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