CSTA Honors Rising Stars, Advocates, and Distinguished Contributors to Science Education in 2015
Posted: Tuesday, September 15th, 2015
CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Legislator of the Year, Future Science Teacher, Honorary Memberships, and the new Bertrand Advocacy Award. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2015 California Science Education Conference on October 2 – 4 in Sacramento. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!
The CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award honors an organization, institution or foundation which has made a sustained, significant impact to science education in the state and which, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching and learning. This year’s awardee, The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, has most certainly made such a difference. Bechtel has been a long-time contributor to science education efforts in California, but over the past half dozen years they have been a significant contributor and partner to STEM education efforts in California. Their educational goals include “supporting teachers to align their practices with the new, more rigorous and engaging academic standards in California.” They have done this by providing support for studies about science education in California such as High Hopes, Few Opportunities – the Status of Elementary Science Education in California (2011) and Untapped Potential: The Status of Middle School Science Education in California (2012), funding STEM education webinars, conference and symposia, California’s NGSS Early Implementers project and more. Their staff do more than just provide money, they are involved in shaping the project so that findings are generated and shared and California’s students benefit. This award will be given during the Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 3.
Each year the CSTA Board of Directors has the option of honoring a legislator. We do not give the Legislator of the Year Award often and it is a pleasure to be awarding it this year it to California State Assemblymember Susan Bonilla. Bonilla, representing the 14th district (Contra Costa and Solano Counties), has been a champion of STEM education and science education for several years. She has authored bills which are supportive of teachers and science education. Recent examples include AB 2350 – Keeping Women in STEM, AB 706 which established the California STEM AmeriCorps (CalSTEM) program, and AB 141 Teacher credentialing: beginning teacher induction programs. Bonilla has been a regular attendee at the Superintendent’s STEM Symposium and for the past three years fought hard to have support for professional learning on the Next Generation Science Standards included in the state budget. Bonilla sponsored bills in 2013, 2014, and 2015 to seek dedicated funding for NGSS implementation, including professional learning for teachers. Each of these years the language from her bills has been incorporated all or in part into the budget bill – resulting in billions in dedicated and discretionary funding to support new standards implementation. This award will be given during the CSTA Conference General Session on Friday, October 2.
CSTA gives a Future Science Teacher Award annually. A maximum of two students per year are selected for this award which recognizes college students who demonstrate an interest in and commitment to science education through volunteer, teaching, and professional organization activities and who show promise to become outstanding science educators. This year’s recipient is Justin Fournier, a recent physics teacher credential candidate from California State University, Long Beach. Justin started his academic and professional life as a theater major. After a few years in the field he decided to return to CSULB for a bachelors in physics and a secondary science teaching credential. It is notable that he opted to complete a physics major as opposed to simply taking the CSET. (Did you know that less than a 1/3 of physics teachers have even a minor in physics?) Not only did he complete the physics degree, he received the department’s highest award at graduation. Justin served as a Supplemental Instructor for physics courses, participated in a wide range of physics professional development opportunities, and has already attended CSTA conferences – even presenting at one with classmates. His theater background enables him to bring an energy to teaching which many beginning teachers do not have. He is teaching physics, chemistry and theater at Oxford Academy in Anaheim Union School District. This award is sponsored by SeaWorld. Justin will receive a check for $1,000 and a plaque. This award will be given during the Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 3.
In an effort to honor individuals who have gone out of their way to support science education in California, the Board of Directors can bestow Honorary Memberships. This year two outstanding individuals, who have played a significant role in overseeing the review, adoption and ultimate implementation of NGSS in California, are receiving this honor, Dr. Ilene Strauss and Ms. Trish Boyd Williams. Both Strauss and Williams serve as science liaisons on the California State Board of Education. SBE Member Strauss, the Vice President of the State Board of Education, had a distinguished career as a teacher, principal and Assistant Superintendent in southern California before retiring in 2011. SBE Member Williams worked for the US Department of Health and Human Services, was a policy consultant for the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth, and most recently was Executive Director of EdSource for 19 years. Together Strauss and Williams have attended every Science Expert Panel meeting, each Science Curriculum Framework Criteria & Guidelines meeting, worked with the science education community to hear and respond to concerns, and have represented the field in all issues science education for the State Board of Education. It is CSTA’s honor to bestow on each of them the status of Honorary Member. They will receive Lifetime Memberships in CSTA and are our guests at this year’s conference. When you see them at the conference please thank them for their advocacy and support of science education at the state level. This award will be given during the CSTA Conference General Session on Friday, October 2.
Finally, we have a new award this year! The Bertrand Advocacy Award is named for former CSTA Executive Director, Christine Bertrand. During her tenure as CSTA Executive Director, Bertrand was responsible for CSTA becoming more involved and vocal at the legislative and policy level. The new award recognizes her efforts by honoring an individual who participates in advocacy for science education at levels beyond what is required for their job. It is CSTA’s privilege to give the inaugural Bertrand Advocacy Award to Trish Williams. As a State Board of Education member Trish has been notable in her work supporting and promoting high quality science education for California. She has provided guidance and leadership beyond her work as well, working with science education stakeholder groups, becoming involved with NGSS at the national level and more. It is our honor to recognize her passion and commitment to science education with this award. This award will be given during the Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 3rd.
Congratulations once again to the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Susan Bonilla, Justin Fournier, Ilene Strauss, and Trish Williams. Please congratulate them when you see them in Sacramento in October.
Nominations for awards are due in May. Consider nominating colleagues or organizations for one of these awards to be given at the 2016 conference! Click here for information about awards and nomination process.
Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
by Jessica Sawko
In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.
At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/infomeeting.asp.) Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
by Carol Peterson
1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!
Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award
The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?
The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt
Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…