January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

Amazon Rain Forest – An Amazing Summer Opportunity for Teachers!

Posted: Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Jennifer Weibert and Kirsten Franklin

Are you looking for an exciting and amazing professional development opportunity for next summer? One, which includes boat trips on the Amazon, night walks, birding and…NGSS?!? Yes, it exists and it is available to all California teachers!

It’s the Educator Academy in the Amazon. This academy will provide you with an unprecedented opportunity to engage in hands-on, NGSS-based investigations, citizen science research projects, and inquiry-based learning activities designed to deepen understanding of the rain forest ecosystems and its global significance.

This past summer, as science coordinators and TOSA, we attended the ten day, cross-curricular Educator Academy in the Amazon rainforest along with 28 other science education leaders and classroom teachers. This academy provided an unprecedented opportunity to engage in hands-on, NGSS-based investigations, citizen science research projects, and inquiry-based learning activities designed to deepen understanding of the rainforest ecosystems and its global significance.

We all gathered in Lima, Peru at the start, where we flew to Iquitos, and travelled, by boat, 240 kilometers upriver on the Amazon to the first of four camps owned by Explorama Lodges. There we had access to all levels of the rainforest ecosystem – even the tree canopy which we explored utilizing one of the world’s most extensive walkway systems. We went on daily hikes led by research scientists including Drs. David Pearson, Director of Amazon Conservatory for Tropical Studies, and Randy Morgan, former Director of Entomology for the Cincinnati Zoo, as well as other local guides. As we traveled through the rainforest, we collected data for analysis and utilized Project Learning Tree curriculum and equipment supplied by Vernier Software and Technology.

Through this academy, we developed a deeper understanding of the effects of human impact on the global ecosystem and the interconnectivity of human actions, regardless of their locations around the world. By utilizing 21st century learning tools in a unique setting, we were able to more fully understand how to use these educational strategies in our classrooms. Close personal and professional bonds were created among many of the teachers as we remain in post-trip contact sharing resources, experiences, ideas and photographs. Untamed Science has posted a video on Youtube that illustrates many of the same activities we experienced during our time in the Amazon- 10 Things to Do in the Amazon. To top it all off, the teachers with us were able to gain professional development hours through Arizona State University for completing the pre-academy course. Who would have guessed that professional development could be so fun?!


Jennifer Weibert is the Science Coordinator for Fresno County Office of Education. Kirsten Franklin is a TOSA for Science and Common Core Support for Petaluma City Schools. Both are members of CSTA.

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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STEM Conference Hosted by CMSESMC

Posted: Saturday, January 14th, 2017

The Council of Math/Science Educators of San Mateo County will be hosting the 41st annual STEM Conference this February 4, 2017 at the San Mateo County Office of Education. This STEM Conference is the place to get lots of new lessons and ideas to use in your classroom. There will be over twenty-five workshops and a variety of exhibitors that provide participants with a wide range of practical and realistic ideas and resources to use in their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs from Pre-K to grade 12. With California’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, we are dedicated to ensuring that we prepare our teachers to take on these educational policies.

Teachers, administrators and parents are invited to explore the many exciting aspects of STEM education and learn about and discuss the latest news, information and issues. This is also an opportunity to network with colleagues who can assist you in building your programs and meet new friends that share your interests and love of teaching.

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.

Opportunities to Support NGSS Implementation with CTC

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

What follows are several opportunities for science teachers to work with the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) on various projects that have direct or indirect implications for the implementation of NGSS in California. Please consider applying to one or more of the following opportunities.

CSET Field Testing Opportunities

Field testing opportunities for future CSET Multiple Subjects and Science tests are available beginning Dec. 5, 2016. Participants will have the choice between a $50 Barnes and Noble eGift Card or a $75 test fee voucher that may be applied to future test registration fees. For more information, including how to register to participate, please visit: http://www.pearsonvue.com/espilot/cset.asp. 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.

Submit Your NGSS Lessons and Units Today!

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

Achieve has launched and is facilitating an EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science–a group of expert reviewers who will evaluate the quality and alignment of lessons and units to the standards–in an effort to identify and shine a spotlight on emerging high-quality lesson and unit plans designed for the NGSS.

If you or your state, district, school, or organization has designed NGSS-aligned instructional materials, please consider submitting these in order to help provide educators across the country with various models and templates of high-quality lesson and unit plans. 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.

Opportunity for High School Students – Los Angeles County

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

An upcoming Perry Outreach Program on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles, CA. The Perry Outreach Program is a free, one-day, hands-on experience for high school and college-aged women who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine and engineering. Students will hear from women leaders in these fields and try it for themselves by performing mock orthopaedic surgeries and biomechanics experiments. 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.

Science Education Policy Update

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

January 2017 has proven to be a very busy month for science education policy and CA NGSS implementation activities. CSTA has been and will be there every step of the way, seeking and enacting all options to support high-quality science education and the successful implementation of CA NGSS.

California Department of Education/U.S. Department of Education Science Double-Testing Waiver Hearing

The year started with California Department of Education’s (CDE) hearing with the U.S. Department of Education conducted via WebEx on January 6, 2017. This hearing was the final step in California’s efforts to secure a waiver from the federal government in order to discontinue administration of the old CST and suspension of the reporting of student test scores on a science assessment for two years. As reported by EdSource, the U.S. Department of Education representative, Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary John King Jr., committed to making her final ruling “very shortly.” Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley presented on behalf of CDE during the hearing and did an excellent job describing the broad-based support for this waiver in California, the rationale for the waiver, and California’s commitment to the successful implementation of a new high-quality science assessment. As previously reported, California is moving forward with its plans to administer a census pilot assessments this spring. The testing window is set to open on March 20, 2017. For more information visit New CA Science Test: What You Should Know.

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.