September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

CSTA Conference Update

Posted: Thursday, August 1st, 2013

by Jim Jones

By now you’ve been making preparations for the upcoming California Science Education Conference this October 25 – 27 in Palm Springs.  We’ve been preparing for you.  There is so much for everyone!  You will have opportunities to participate in many quality events.  Everybody wants to go to Palm Springs, so what better reason to do so than this conference?!

If just the fact that it’s in Palm Springs isn’t enough motivation to get you there, let me tell you about our superb Keynote Speakers.  To open our conference, we have Dr. Stephen Pruitt, the Vice President for Content, Research, and Development for Achieve and leader of the development of the Next Generation Science Standards.  The NGSS are being considered by the State Board of Education and are likely to be adopted.  The conference will be the optimal place to learn about them and prepare your teaching to address them.

On Sunday, October 27, our closing keynote speaker will be Dr. Lawrence C. Smith, climate scientist, professor, and author of The World in 2050Dr. Smith is one of the world’s most respected climate scientists whose work envisions the future of a warmed planet.  He will outline the changes that our world will face in the next 50 years, both geologically and societally.  Dr. Smith will speak about the changes occurring on Earth because of the combination of booming global population and global warming.  He will share the major gains he believes will be made by the North.

In addition to the two outstanding Keynote Speakers, you will have the opportunity to hear several Focus Speakers.  Their topics include the Power of Non-Verbal Communication, Shark Tracking Robots, Tissue Development and Engineering, Scientific Computing, and Nanoscience. Don’t forget to reserve Saturday, October 26 from 7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m., as well. This is for the Awards Breakfast, where you can hear Dr. Stuart Sumida, a paleontologist and anatomical consultant to animation and digital effects studios including Disney and Pixar. Seating at the breakfast event is limited so be sure to purchase your ticket early.

Of course, the staple of the conference will be the Short Courses and Workshops presented by your peers.  We’ve accumulated a diverse of line-up of topics.  No matter your grade level and/or discipline, you will find many choices available.

You will also want to take advantage of our Field Course offerings.  On Friday, take one of the field courses to learn about the San Andreas Fault or Alternative Energy.  Saturday offers the opportunity to learn about Joshua Tree National Park or the Palm Springs Aerial Tram Engineering Tour.  Sunday offers a visit to the Living Desert to learn about helping species survive and thrive.

We’ve made plans for your evenings as well as your days.  In addition to the Villagefest Street Fair on Thursday night in downtown Palm Springs (walking distance from the Convention Center), you can participate in evening events on Friday and Saturday nights.  These opportunities include a Pool Party where you will have the chance to join a team in engineering activities, and an Astronomy Night with invited guest Bobak Ferdowsi, a.k.a. the “Mohawk Guy” from the current Mars exploration mission.

Finally, there will be as many as 100 exhibitors on-hand.  A visit to the Exhibit Hall is a great way to stay on the cutting edge of what is available to enhance your students’ learning and to shop for classroom essentials.

We’re looking forward to seeing you in Palm Springs in October!

Jim Jones retired two years ago after teaching elementary grades for 36 years. He is the co-chairperson of the 2013 California Science Education Conference and has been a CSTA member since 1985.

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 Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

Updated 7:25 pm, Nov. 17, 2017

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 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.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.