May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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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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.