May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Bio-Boot Camp

Posted: Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

by Eric Lewis

The Bay Area is full of opportunities and resources for life sciences. While we have great institutions that highlight the natural world around us, there are also amazing opportunities to enjoy nature at our numerous parks and beaches. Last summer, I helped develop a summer school course for SFUSD students that focused on physiology and leveraged expertise and resources from our local medical school (UCSF), our local CSU (SFSU) and our city college (CCSF). We even included a trip to UC Berkeley during the school year to further reinforce a college-going culture for our students.

The course was offered to rising 10th graders at Mission High School in San Francisco. All of these students had just completed a year of conceptual physics, the course that 9th graders take at Mission High. We focused on these students for two reasons: there aren’t many opportunities for rising tenth graders over the summer, and these students were going to be taking biology for their next year of science. In general, the biology curriculum at Mission did not focus on physiology – a part of our old standards that tended to get some attention only at the end of the school year. Consequently, we focused this summer course on physiology. Students met for four weeks, from 9:00am to 3:30pm, Monday through Friday, and students received biology credits toward their graduation.

Of course, we aimed to keep the course FUN and ENGAGING. When you have students for six hours a day, five days a week, it’s important to keep things moving. Not only did we have many different projects going on (research on a physiology topic, dissections, field trips, experiments), we also included many guest speakers, short videos and myriad demonstrations. Rather than providing a day-by-day summary of the course (if you’re REALLY interested, email me at lewise2@sfusd.edu), I want to highlight two aspects of the course that may translate to your context in your city:

  1. Partnering with SACNAS (the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science)
  2. Partnering with UCSF (the University of California, San Francisco – our local graduate school for medical sciences)

SACNAS is a national organization with chapters at all kinds of colleges and universities. As Mission High is richly diverse and many of the students have a Latin American heritage, we decided that partnering with SACNAS would be a great boon to our students (and to the participating SACNAS students). As part of the classroom experience, SACNAS participants had many different roles. SACNAS students shared their experiences with education and how they came to be interested in pursuing science in college or in graduate school. This was incredibly powerful for everyone in the room since the City College students were able to hear from students doing research at UCSF. Of course, the Mission High students were able to hear about the journeys of all the SACNAS students – and there were MANY different pathways for these students. Additionally, the SACNAS students that were engaged in research shared their research with our high school students after having thought about how to best articulate their research to a high school audience that hadn’t yet taken biology (a pretty good challenge for young researchers). Finally, the SACNAS students served as mentors to our students – coming in at least twice as week to share their expertise in research and to help our students develop and research their own areas of interest that were presented in poster session/dinner celebration on our last day of class. Of course, our field trips to SF State, City College of San Francisco, UCSF and UC Berkeley were made more comfortable and accessible by including the SACNAS students as chaperones as well!

Our partnership with UCSF was large a result of work with the UCSF Center for Educational Partnerships (a part of the Student Academic Affairs Division). Through this partnership we were able to provide many different perks for our class (including food for some field trips, T-shirts for all the students, and food/drinks for our final celebration). Some of the clear benefits of this collaboration included:

  • Field trips to UCSF
    • Dental School
    • Stem Cell Building
    • Nursing School
    • Pharmacy School
    • Graduate School
    • Medical School
    • Kanbar Center
    • Mission Bay Campus laboratories
  • Classroom speakers/guest lecturers
  • Picking up and returning materials for our class through UCSF SEP’s lending library

Over all, the students, SACNAS participants, and SFUSD teachers had an amazing summer of learning. We completed amazing laboratory activities, dissections, hands-on activities and had students discussing challenging science content with each other and with their science mentors from SACNAS. Students produced many types of written materials – from annotated illustrations to poster presentations. Our goal of getting many underrepresented minority students more engaged in science (and doing better in their biology classes over the course of 2013-2014 school year) seems to have been successful. The next few months will help complete this particular story… Hopefully, we’ll find many of these students back at our local institutions for college – and, majoring in science!

Written by Eric Lewis

Eric Lewis

Eris Lewis is high school area science support in the San Francisco Unified School District LEAD office.

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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 zi@cascience.org.)

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: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

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.