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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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. 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 California NGSS k-8 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

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.

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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