November 2014 – Vol. 27 No. 3

Congratulations Award Winners

Posted: Monday, November 4th, 2013

CSTA and the California Department of Education honored three amazing science educators at the annual Awards Breakfast at the 2013 California Science Education Conference in Palm Springs. During the event, the following educators were honored:

Tania Hughes, 2013 Future Science Teacher Award Winner

Tania Hughes

Tania Hughes

Tania is currently serving as a teacher in the Peace Corps in Mozambique. Tania was a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential candidate at CSU Long Beach. During her time at Cal State Long Beach she spearheaded and designed two science units which she taught during her student teaching:  Fourth Grade Electricity and Magnetism and Second Grade Geology; volunteered as a docent for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Los Angeles; and was instrumental in organizing a Family Science Night in 2013 (now an annual event organized by the faculty at that school). During her time as a student teacher, she drew upon her background in architecture and art to teach a STEM course. Upon returning from her Peace Corps service Tania plans to add science and math authorizations to her credential so that she can teach middle school science and math. Tania exemplifies the kind of science and STEM teachers California’s students deserve. The award carries with it a cash prize supported by Sea World San Diego. Our thanks to Sea World San Diego for their continued support of this award. More information about the Future Science Teacher Award, including a list of past recipients is available online.

Amanda Alonzo and Scott Holloway, California State Finalists for the 2013 Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST):

Award winner Scott and Amanda (middle) with Phil Lafontaine of CDE and Laura Henriques, CSTA president.

Award winners Scott and Amanda (middle) with Phil Lafontaine of CDE and Laura Henriques, CSTA president.

The Presidential Awards represent the highest national recognition that a kindergarten through twelfth grade science teacher may receive. Each state only gets one teacher in science and one in mathematics.  PAEMST was enacted by Congress in 1983 and authorizes the President each year to bestow up to 108 awards. PAEMST awards primary and secondary teachers in alternate years. The National Science Foundation administers the program on behalf of The White House Office.

The PAEMST process is very rigorous. Candidates are reviewed by a panel of their peers for content knowledge, pedagogical effectiveness, achievement results, and professional involvement. In addition, candidates submitted a 45-minute lesson video in support of their application and wrote a 20-page narrative.
About Amanda Alonzo

Amanda Alonzo is a biology teacher at Lynbrook High School in the Fremont Union High School District in San Jose, where she has taught since 2002. In addition to teaching biology and human physiology courses, Alonzo also coaches students who compete in the International Science and Engineering Fair—20 of whom have been named “outstanding finalist.” Recently, Alonzo began an integrated Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) research course that is open to any student in grades nine through twelve. Students design an original STEM research project and then work with Alonzo to carry it out. Alonzo has a Bachelor of Arts in Human Biology from Pitzer College and a Master of Arts in Science Education from Stanford University. Her video focused on a ninth-grade biology course, and her lesson topic was “Evidence to Support the Theory of Evolution and Alternative Argumentative Essays.”

About Scott Holloway

Scott Holloway is a physics teacher at Westlake High School in the Conejo Valley Unified School District, where he has taught for five years. Prior to coming to Westlake High, Holloway taught chemistry in the Los Angeles Unified School District for nine years. When he arrived at Westlake High, only 13 students enrolled for AP Physics, and the district discussed eliminating the course. In 2012-13, 150 students registered for the AP Physics course, and his students had a pass rate on the rigorous AP exam of 98 percent. Holloway’s students also are active in the American Association of Physics Teachers Physics Olympiad and the regional Physics Bowl. Holloway advises the campus Robotics Club, which has been successful in regional competitions. Holloway holds a Master of Arts in Science Education from California State University, Northridge; a Single Subject Credential in Physics from the same institution, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His video lesson focused on “angular accelerations due to torques acting on the object and dependent upon the moment of inertia.”

More information about the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, including a list of past recipients is available online. Nominations for the 2014 award which will recognize teachers in grades K-6 are now being accepted. The nomination deadline is April 1, 2014.

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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Celestial Highlights for 2015

Posted: Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

by Robert Victor

These monthly charts plot positions of the stars of first magnitude or brighter and the five naked-eye planets at evening or morning mid-twilight. The charts can be used to follow the comings and goings of planets and stars. This selection includes dates of peak interest, when planets appear strikingly close to each other. We hope you and your students enjoy following the planets from one night to the next surrounding these occasions!

January 2015 at dusk: Mercury approaches within 0.6 degree lower right of Venus on Jan. 10. Venus and Jupiter visible simultaneously above opposite horizons starting late in month. See also the January 2015 Sky Calendar. Follow these two brilliant planets for the next five months, until their very close pairing on the evening of June 30. 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.

NGSS Implementation Update: State Implementation Plan, New Assessments, LCAPs, and Curriculum Framework

Posted: Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

by Jessica L. Sawko

There are a lot of moving parts  when it comes to implementing new state standards and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are no exception. Two weeks ago the California Department of Education (CDE) and State Board of Education (SBE) responded to CSTA’s call to provide clarification regarding the standards that are to be included in a district’s LCAP when addressing State Priority #2. Today and tomorrow the CFCC will convene again with the writers of the NGSS Curriculum Framework to provide feedback to the writers on draft framework chapters and CSTA will be at the meetings to provide input into process. Later this week the SBE will interview candidates for appointment to the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) – the body that will pick up the work to finish the NGSS Curriculum Framework after the CFCC completes its work. Finally, next week the SBE will convene its November meeting on November 13 – 14, 2014. On the agenda for this meeting is a recommendation from CDE that the State Board approve the State Implementation Plan for NGSS – a plan which will lay the groundwork for implementation activities at the state and local level as well as for support providers like CSTA and others. Also on the agenda is a report from CDE’s assessment division with the results of the stakeholder group meetings that were held in July 2014 to inform the planning of the future statewide assessment system for science. Finally the SBE will appoint new members to the IQC. Learn More…

Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

CSTA Night at the Aquarium – NGSS Science & Engineering Showcase Presenters Announced!

Posted: Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

The 2014 NSTA Long Beach Area Conference – in Collaboration with CSTA is just one month away! If you have not already registered for what promises to be the professional learning event of the year for California science educators – it is not too late! Make plans to join more than 2,200 science teachers in Long Beach this December 4 – 6. Discounted registration rates are available through November 14, 2014. Please register today. Remember – both CSTA and NSTA members have the benefit of being able to register at member rates (a $90 savings).

If you have already made your plans to attend the Long Beach conference – please mark your conference schedules with these two CSTA events:

CSTA Night at the Aquarium of the Pacific NGSS Science & Engineering Showcase – Thursday, December 4, 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Tickets are limited – purchase yours today (only $10 for CSTA members and $25 for nonmmebers – ticket price includes light food, admission into the Aquarium for the event, and one beverage). 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.

Focus on Physical Science

Posted: Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

by Laura Henriques

As a former physics/physical science teacher, the California Classroom Science (CCS) issue focusing on physical science is always one of my favorites. I enjoy reading about lessons, labs and teaching ideas that my colleagues share in each month’s CCS, but I really enjoy reading physics and physical science lesson ideas as those apply most directly to what I teach. As with past issues of CCS, we have some great articles written by a wide variety of members on a range of topics. Sadly (for me), only a couple of them focus on physical science.

One of the physical science highlights is Padma Haldar’s article that has students doing ‘mythbuster’ activities to help them better understand the Nature of Science. This project requires students to engage in many of the science and engineering practices (they ask questions, plan and carry out investigations, analyze and interpret data, and evaluate and communicate information) and Ms. Haldar seems to be explicit in helping students understand the nature of science throughout the process. Another article in this month’s issue is Valerie Joyner’s where she shares a primary activity which focuses on the crosscutting concept of patterns. Her lesson links patterns with properties of plastic lids. As is the case with crosscutting concepts, she shares how this activity about patterns could be linked to other patterns in nature and science. Learn More…

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and president of CSTA.

Planning Professional Learning Using the NGSS Implementation Pathway Model

Posted: Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

by John Spiegel, Anthony Quan, and Yamileth Shimojyo

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have the ability to transform teaching and learning in the classroom. They will dramatically change how students experience science by shifting the focus from the memorization of facts to greater student engagement in the processes of science. The NGSS emphasize learning in three dimensions: Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas. In addition, there are seven Conceptual Shifts, or Innovations, that have strong implications for teaching and learning. These shifts include the interconnected nature of science as practiced in the real world, the integration of science and engineering, the use of performance expectations, a focus on deeper understanding of content as well as application of content, and alignment to the Common Core State Standards. Teachers will ultimately be tasked with implementing the NGSS, but cannot do so without extensive time to plan and engage in professional learning. Learn More…

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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: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.