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.



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.


Patty Ladegaard is the Program Coordinator for Donate Life California, and can be reached at, 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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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: 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

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: 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)

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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: 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. 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: 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. 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:

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

Posted: 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. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.