May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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.

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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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

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:

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.