May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

CSTA Announces 2015 Keynote Speakers!

Posted: Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

by Deb Farkas

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As chair of the 2015 California Science Education Conference Committee, I am pleased to announce that CSTA will be welcoming Dr. Ainissa Ramirez and former astronaut, José Hernández, as our Opening Session and Closing Session Keynote speakers, respectively. Dr. Ramirez will present in the morning on Friday, October 2, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento and Mr. Hernández will address the CSTA audience the morning of Sunday, October 4. Both individuals are dedicated to making science accessible to all and encouraging young people to pursue careers in STEM. 

Dr. Ainissa Ramirez

Dr. Ainissa Ramirez

Dr. Ramirez, formerly a research scientist at Bell Laboratories – Lucent Technologies and an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Yale University and director at Yale of the award-winning science lecture series for children, Science Saturdays, is a science evangelist who has a passion for making science fun, exciting and accessible to the general public.  Her current focus is getting the message out about the importance of STEM education and shattering the stereotyping of scientists by promoting STEM in underrepresented groups.  To quote Dr. Ramirez, “The 21st century requires a new kind of learner – not someone who can simply churn out answers by rote, as has been done in the past, but a student who can think expansively and solve problems resourcefully.  The traditional academic skills of reading, ‘riting, and ’rithmetic must be replaced with creativity, curiosity, critical thinking and problem solving, and collaborative and communication skills in order to solve the complex problems of tomorrow.” Dr. Ramirez is co-author of Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game with journalist Allen St. John, and author of Save Our Science: How to Inspire a New Generation of Scientists.

José Hernández

José Hernández

José Hernández is a former NASA astronaut who served as a mission specialist on the STS-128 Discovery mission in 2009, managing the transfer of more than 18,000 pounds of supplies and equipment between the shuttle and the International Space Station, assisting with robotics operation, and serving as flight engineer for launch and landing.  The son of migrant farm workers in California, he moved with his family annually from Mexico to central California while growing up.  After graduating high school in Stockton, Mr. Herandez pursued baccalaureate and graduate degrees in electrical and computer engineering, was selected as an astronaut candidate in 2004, and in 2006 received an honorary doctorate from the University of the Pacific. Earlier in his career, Mr. Hernández worked on signal and image processing applications in radar imaging, computed tomography, and acoustic imaging at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.  Mr. Hernández is also the co-developer of the first full-field digital mammography imaging system.  He co-authored Reaching for the Stars: The Inspiring Story of a Migrant Farmworker Turned Astronaut with Monica Rojas Rubin.  In 2005, José founded the Reaching for the Stars Foundation based on his belief that all children, despite challenges, should have the opportunities to fulfill their dreams.  Through the Foundation’s science conferences, events, summer academy and scholarships, he hopes to inspire young people to learn more about math and science, and help prepare and support them in pursuing careers in STEM.

For more information about the 2015 California Science Education Conference, please visit our conference website. I encourage you to submit a proposal to present a one-hour workshop at the conference, proposals are due February 13!

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

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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.