May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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!

sd_bechtel_foundationThe 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.

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Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, 2015 CSTA Legislator of the Year

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.

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Justin Fournier, 2015 Future Science Teacher Award Recipient

Justin Fournier, 2015 Future Science Teacher Award Recipient

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.

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Trish Williams, Bertrand Advocacy Award Recipient

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.

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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.