May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Bringing Science Together for Elementary and High School Students

Posted: Monday, April 1st, 2013

by Valerie Joyner

This month I was very excited to see two local science programs prominently placed on the front page of two separate newspapers in Sonoma County.  Lee Boyes, Honors Chemistry teacher at Petaluma High School, and Steve Carpenter, Physics teacher at Piner High School in Santa Rosa, have independently developed collaborative science programs involving their high school seniors with younger elementary students within their districts. These programs were developed to help support elementary science and assist students in developing a greater interest in and understanding for the science they are learning.  Throughout the year, the high school science students visited the local elementary classrooms to teach science concepts through hands-on activities.  In March, each program brought the elementary students to their high schools and learned more chemistry and physics from their teenage mentors.

Boyes and Carpenter are well aware of the challenges that elementary teachers face with regards to science: not enough time, money, or support for necessary professional development or implementation.  They also know that the time to get students excited about science is in the elementary grades.  As an outgrowth of their research (High Hopes – Few Opportunities, WestEd, 2011 and CALPASS) and experience they realized the need to have an impact on their future science students.

I know there are many similar examples of high quality science education programs being carried out.  I congratulate and thank all of you for your efforts to improve science education and create a future filled with enthusiastic science students.  As we move forward with NGSS, STEM Blueprints, and A Framework for K-12 Science Education, it is time to keep science education in the forefront of the publics mind.  Don’t forget to send your local news outlets press releases or even just a quick phone call about your programs and projects.

Finally, it is never too soon to begin to secure funding for CSTA’s 2013 Conference, October 25-27, in Palm Springs.  April is often the deadline for spending 2012-2013 funding for your school.  You might be able to use some of this year’s funds for the conference.  Another option is to find local groups and/or businesses that want to promote science education in your area.

Events and Happenings in Region 1

Project WILD

April 2, 2013

4:00-7:00 pm

Sonoma County Office of Education

5340 Skylane Blvd., Santa Rosa, CA

Contact: Mike Roa at mroa@scoe.gov

Project WILD is a resource for teaching about organisms.

Ticks, Yellow jackets, Mosquitoes and More!

April 11, 2013

4:00 – 7:00 pm

Sonoma County Office of Education

5340 Skylane Blvd., Santa Rosa, CA

Contact: Mike Roa at mroa@scoe.gov

This workshop will teach you about a variety of invertebrates that have importance to the health of you and your students

Super SIRC (Science in the River City) Science Saturday

Saturday, May 4, 2013

9:00 a.m. -3:30 p.m.

Sacramento State Union, Sacramento State University

Hosted by Sacramento Area Science Project and the Center for Mathematics and Science Education

Target audience: K-12 teachers

SIRC is an outstanding standards-based professional development program for 3rd to 12th grade science teachers. This 1-day science conference is designed to deepen teachers’ understanding of science through hands-on, minds-on labs and activities, connecting the Science Content Standards and Common Core. Included are 3 workshops, workshop materials, breakfast, lunch, and 6 professional development hours.

For more information please visit www.csus.edu/mase/sircsaturday.htm or email Debbie Dennick at debbie@csus.edu.

Written by Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner is a retired elementary science educator and is CSTA’s Primary (grades K-2) Director.

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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.