May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

A Free Online Resources for Teaching About Organ, Eye & Tissue Donation

Posted: Monday, February 8th, 2016

by Patty Ladegaard, Donate Life California

A rite of passage for many high school students is applying for their first driver license or identification (ID) card from the California DMV. When doing so, students will be asked if they would like to join the state organ, eye and tissue donor registry. If they check “yes” a pink “DONOR” dot will be printed on their driver license to indicate their wishes. But how do teens get the information they need to make an informed decision about organ donation? When students study organ, eye and tissue donation and transplantation in school, they are able to make a decision about organ donation based on scientific information and fact, rather than myth and folklore. It also allows them an opportunity to discuss the topic with family prior to visiting the DMV.

The study of the science behind organ donation and transplantation supports and provides opportunity to build on several key ideas in the life sciences, including functions at the organism system level; the body as a system of multiple interacting subsystems; genetics and DNA; immunology; medical treatments and solutions; uses for stem cells; and the effect of environmental and lifestyle choices on the human body. The topic can also be tied into the Crosscutting Concepts of structure and function; systems and system models; and cause and effect.

There is another reason to teach about organ, eye and tissue donation and transplantation: students can come to understand that one person’s act of generosity in the form of organ or tissue donation can have a profound ripple effect in a family and a community. Students also have the opportunity to learn that something positive can come from tragedy. The topic is easy to understand and appeals to students’ youthful altruism.

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To provide teachers of high school and middle school health and science classes with teaching resources and accurate information about organ, eye and tissue donation, an education program was developed by Donate Life California, California’s nonprofit organ, eye and tissue donor registry. The program, available for download at no cost, incorporates lessons and activities that guide students through these important concepts: why organ donation is needed; what organs and tissues can be donated; understanding brain death; the organ donation process; and correcting myths and misconceptions.

The education program consists of four components which may be used individually or as a package:

  • The Educator Resource Guide contains seven lesson plans that address basic donation facts, the donation process, and brain death. An Interactive Body Tour identifies the organs and tissues in the body, describes their function, and notes what can be donated.
  • The “Your Decision to Donate” film is designed for and features high school students. The 11-minute video provides an overview of organ donation and shares stories of teens touched by donation.
  • Informational resources correct common donation myths and put a face on donation through personal stories about organ donors and transplant recipients.
  • The classroom presentation program offers trained speakers who work in the donation/transplant field and/or have a personal connection to the transplant community. Presentations can be tailored to class size and area of interest, and can be either clinical or high level in nature.
Ayanna Anderson, Donate Life Ambassador, speaks to students at Balboa High School about organ, eye and tissue donation as part of a Donate Life California classroom presentation offered free to high schools and middle schools.

Ayanna Anderson, Donate Life Ambassador, speaks to students at Balboa High School about organ, eye and tissue donation as part of a Donate Life California classroom presentation offered free to high schools and middle schools.

The Donate Life California education program was created following the passing of California Assembly Bill (AB) 1967 (Pérez, 2012) which requires the inclusion of organ, eye and tissue donation in the next revision of the Science Framework and Health Framework as part of the science and health curriculum. Since the launch of the program in 2013, more than 60,000 students across California have received a classroom presentation. These students are now able to do some educating of their own by correcting the myths and misconceptions that deter some from joining the donor registry.

Each year, more than 3,000 Californians are saved through organ donation and thousands others benefit from the gift of tissue in the form of ligaments, heart valves, bone and skin. There are more than 120,000 people in the U.S. waiting for an organ transplant. It’s likely that there are students or co-workers in your school who have a family member or friend who has been touched by donation or transplant. Danielle Delgado, a high school student in San Diego is one of those students. She received her life-saving liver transplant at just nine months old. Now she is active in school, plays field hockey, writes, draws, and sings in a women’s choir. Judy Regnier’s six grandchildren know she wouldn’t be alive had she not received a liver in 1998 from an anonymous man who said “yes” to joining the organ, eye and tissue donor registry.

Because organ donation and transplantation also affects children, Donate Life California has also created an age-appropriate Q&A to guide educators, parents and other adults in a conversation with younger children. The information is presented in a brief and simple manner, highlighting the messages of generosity and sharing that make organ transplants possible.

Teaching students about the science and medicine of organ, eye and tissue donation and transplantation in health and science classes allows them to make an educated decision – with family input – about joining the state registry so that when the time comes to visit the DMV, they are prepared not only for their driver test, but understand what it means to have the pink “DONOR” dot on their driver license.

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Patty Ladegaard is the Program Coordinator for Donate Life California, and can be reached at patty@donatelifecalifornia.org, or 619-563-5138.

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.

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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.