May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

3D Giant Screen Film Molecules to the MAX! Now Available on DVD

Posted: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Film educates and excites kids about the world of atoms and molecules!

You can now catch a ride to NanoSpace in Molecules to the MAX!, the 42-minute, animated 3D Giant Screen film, developed by world-renowned professors and scientists from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). The film is being offered on DVD to school librarians first before being made available to the public. Science teachers are encouraged to talk with their school librarians about ordering the DVD through AV Café or another preferred distributor. Additionally, Public Performance Rights (Screening license) can be purchased at edu.passionriver.com/molecules-to-the-max.

For those science teachers interested in learning more about The Molecularium® Project’s initiatives designed to teach and excite kids about science, the Project’s team members will be exhibiting at the NSTA Conference in Chicago (March 12-15). Please stop by booth #1627 to win a free copy of the DVD.

“If you’ve ever stood in front of a group of 5th graders and watched their faces as you described how atoms and molecules make up the world, you’d know the importance and joy of continuing to come up with innovative ways to excite kids about science,” said Richard W. Siegel, Ph.D., director of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Nanotechnology Center and innovator behind The Molecularium® Project. “That’s why we are thrilled to be releasing our Molecules to the MAX! film on DVD and to focus attention on the power of using entertainment to teach students,” he added.

Molecules to the MAX! continues to show overseas on select IMAX screens and has been translated into Spanish, Chinese, Arabic and Japanese. In the film, Oxy, Captain of the Molecularium, is dispatched from the Unified Field of Atoms on an expedition to discover the secret of life on Earth. Along with her crew – Mel, the uptight computer, and Hydra and Hydro, the bungling hydrogen twins – they have many misadventures exploring the Earth’s atmosphere and the cycle of water molecules, through clouds, snowflakes and raindrops. Lost in the far reaches of outer space, Oxy and her crew are rescued by Carbón and his gang of intergalactic carbon atoms. With lots of bravado and a little luck, Carbón is able to pilot the ship back to Earth.

The Molecularium Project is the flagship outreach and education effort of RPI’s Nanotechnology Center aimed at boosting global science literacy and encouraging young people to pursue careers in STEM. Along with Molecules to the MAX!, its educational efforts include a 23-minute, award-winning Digital Dome film, Molecularium – Riding Snowflakes, which introduced the characters Oxy, Carbón, Hydra and Mel; and NanoSpace®, an online amusement park, where the familiar film characters are transformed into game based characters. NanoSpace, winner of the Center for Digital Education 2013 Best of the Web award, includes more than 25 fun, interactive and educational games, short animated films and activities, which provide an engaging environment to demystify molecular science. Instead of textbooks, teachers and students can use games like BuildEm!, Periodic Memory and microLAB. The Project’s free educator resources for grades K-4 and 5-8 are available on the website at www.molecularium.com.

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.

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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: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HappyAtoms

Please contact Rosanne Luu at rluu@wested.org 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.