California Science Education Conference – The Total Cure for the Teaching Profession: Support, Improvement, and Inspiration
Posted: Thursday, November 1st, 2012
by Yilmaz Kara
Today, many teachers find themselves in hard situations. They may want to have some outdoor activities or field courses with their students but do not know where to start. They have heard lots about the new standards but nobody has explained how they are different or new. It would be good to know cool and engaging activities being done by the teachers who have the admiration of their students. Maybe they are searching for educational materials to use in the classroom or laboratory, but they don’t know where to find them. Some teachers are just burned out, having taught for so many years that they have can’t find the inspiration that brought them to the classroom in the first place. You can find cures to all these kinds of situations and more than others at the CSTA conference.
The CSTA conference was an amazing educational conference with a wide variety of participants ranging from teachers, teacher candidates, school district administrators, academicians, producers of educational materials, and professionals from other educational organizations like NSTA or ASTE, and even a visiting researcher like me. You can enjoy many workshops including activities that can be easily transferred from the classrooms or laboratories of the experienced teachers to your classrooms and all the professional events are linked to each other. For example, you can meet with the experts who produce different educational materials and get informed on how to adapt them for your classroom. Useful handouts, books, CDs or DVDs, and many other instructional materials are available, some for free. In addition to the workshops, many educational resources await you at the large exhibit hall. If you get bored from the indoor activities, field courses are just for you. Focus speakers are waiting to share their opinions on hot topics of science education. Information sessions are available for pre-service and beginning teachers about support programs and scholarship information. The conference even included meal events to enable the participants to meet and talk and find new friends. Conference attendees were friendly and welcoming. There was a warm, family feel and it was exciting to see this vibrant group of professionals.
This was my first science teacher conference. In my country, teacher professional development is rare. Some teachers are able to volunteer to do inservice with university faculty, but most are left on their own. It was amazing to me to see so many science teachers paying their own money to come to this conference.
Incidentally, I need to warn you about some of the side effects of the conference. For example, you could forget how much effort you exerted while getting from one presentation to another. It was so much fun and you learned so much that you probably did not notice your tiredness. You will also have to become familiar with the bewildered but eager looks on your students’ faces when you start to do the fun and cool activities that you learned at the conference. And, you will start to hear from parents about how their children keep talking about the new activities. Your friends will not understand why you are looking to some “chemical free” or “organic” products on the market with a waggish smile after the Jeff & Jeff show (handouts available online – follow the link), “Using the Misuse of Science to Teach Chemistry and Biology.” You will be preoccupied and wistful after the conference because of all the sessions that you wanted to attend but you could not. Unfortunately, there is no way other than waiting until next year’s CSTA conference!
Yilmaz Kara is a visiting scholar at CSU Long Beach. He is a scholar of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey, assistant researcher and Ph.D. student at the department of secondary science education in Karadeniz Technical University, and member of CSTA.
Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
by Jessica Sawko
In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.
At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/infomeeting.asp.) Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
by Carol Peterson
1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!
Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award
The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?
The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt
Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…