September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

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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State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 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.

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Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

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Science Education Background

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Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Cal

This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.