May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Conference Deadline Proposal Approaches! Short Courses due January 31, Workshops March 4

Posted: Friday, January 4th, 2013

by Rick Pomeroy

Have you ever wondered how many workshops are really offered at a California Science Education Conference, or what the grade or subject distribution is? I do. Over the years, I have come to realize that there are a lot of workshops at each conference that I never get to see. In fact, there are things at every conference for people with vastly different teaching assignments than I have that I have never realized even existed. For example, this year at the 2012 conference in San Jose, there was a dedicated short course specifically for primary teachers. Since the majority of my work is with secondary science teachers, I would never have even thought about attending any of those sessions. I also missed most of the biology workshops, not because I have anything against biology but simply because there was something else at those times that I was more interested in.

After ruminating about my lack of knowledge about the overall picture of workshops at this year’s conference, I decided to do a bit of an analysis of what was proposed and what was offered.  Besides my curiosity, I did this as a way of encouraging you to submit workshop proposals for the 2013 conference in Palm Springs. I am hoping that by seeing what was proposed and what was accepted this year, that more members will be interested in submitting their own workshop proposal.

The data for this analysis is the list of submitted proposals. The list includes the subject matter as entered by the proposer, the grade level(s) that the session was targeted for, the subject area, and the results of the blind review (accept, decline, withdrawn). During the submission process, the proposer could select from eight subject areas. In addition, each proposer could select the grade level(s) that the workshop would apply to. Unfortunately, this data is a bit confusing with some proposers picking all grade levels from K-13 while others would select a single grade.

Subject Area Submissions: There were a total of 252 proposals submitted. Of those, 173 were accepted with the results as follows (submitted/accepted): Chemistry (16/14), Earth/Space Science (42/30), Environmental Science (25/18), Integrated Science (14/8), Multidisciplinary Science (75/56), Physical Science (31/20), and Physics (9/5). In an effort to offer a content-balanced conference, it appears that more submissions in the areas of chemistry and physics would help the conference planning committee offer something for every teacher during each of the workshop time slots.

Grade Level Submissions: As stated above, the analysis of submissions by grade level was a bit more difficult. I could have analyzed the number of proposals that listed 1st grade then the number that listed 2nd grade …… but that would have yielded a Mole of data (okay, I may be exaggerating a bit but I put this in to see if anyone is really reading this far) that would have been difficult to make sense of and which would probably not inform the general nature of this article. Instead, I tried to count the number of proposals submitted/accepted at the elementary grade level (PreK-6) the middle/junior high school Level (6-9) and the high school level (9-12).  As I said before, this data was not quite as clean as the subject matter and so I had to categorize some of the proposals into one group or another based on the grades listed by the proposer as well as the trend in the grades. For example, something listed for grades 5,6,7,8 would be counted as middle/junior high school where as something that was listed as K, 1,2,3,4,5 would be counted for elementary. The proposals were counted multiple times to check my assumptions. The results of that analysis (submitted/accepted) are elementary (45/42), middle/junior high school (42/27) high school (42/30) and other where the typical grade span included at least two and in some cases all three grade ranges (123/74). The catch-all grade span made it difficult to categorize and evaluate proposals and may have contributed to the fact that almost 50 of those proposals were not accepted.

What can we learn from this simple analysis?  First, look for those areas that appear to have low numbers of submissions. If you have a good idea in any of those areas, please consider submitting a proposal for the 2013 conference. Likewise, if you want to do something in one of the more heavily impacted subject areas (Earth/Space Science, Multidisciplinary Science) pay special attention to the grade levels that your workshop applies to as well as crafting a proposal that reviewers can’t wait to accept. Finally, when proposing a workshop, try to identify the target audience that you really want to attract. Many attendees will see a workshop listed for grades K-12 and wonder how valuable it can be for my grade level if it covers everyone.

In closing, I encourage you to take some time to craft your proposals so that they are clear on their content and the grade level standards that they address. Pay particular attention, for at least one more year, to the California Standards. We hope that these will be changing, but for now they are the rules we have to play by. Finally, think of something you have to offer that is unique, that you are passionate about, and that you have found to be successful in supporting high quality learning for your students. Take a risk and submit a proposal. If this is your first time, feel free to contact me, or any of your science colleagues for support. The goal of the conference chair and the entire conference committee is to provide you with three days of awesome sessions that you can’t wait to go home and try.

The deadline for Short Course submissions is January 31, 2013 and for workshop submissions March 4, 2013. The conference will be held at the Palm Springs Convention Center, October 25-27, 2013.

 

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Written by Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis.

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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.