May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

CSTA Is Pleased to Announce the Election Results for the 2014-2016 Board of Directors

Posted: Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Congratulations goes to Jeanine Wulfenstein, Joanne Michael, Susan Gomez-Zweip, Minda Berbeco, and Peter A’Hearn! There terms will begin July 1, 2014 and conclude on June 30, 2016. Information about the 2015-2017 elections will be available in the fall.

Treasurer: Jeanine Wulfenstein

Jeanine has been teaching science for 14 years and currently teaches science at Gardner Middle School in the Temecula Valley USD. This past year she was recognized as the TVUSD middle school teacher of the year. Prior to teaching, Jeanine was an accountant for a major cosmetics manufacturing company. She has presented at several CSTA conferences, served on the 2013 CSTA conference committee, the CSTA publications committee, the legislative oversight committee and is the current CSTA Region 4 Director.

Quality science education is vital to our state’s success. In today’s world, students must be problem solvers in the workplace, champions for their own health, and advocates for the integrity of our planet. In the science classroom, an educator’s charge is to inspire students to wonder, question, research, and push the boundary to learn more about themselves and the world around them. As a community of science educators, our responsibility is to ensure quality instructional practices to support inquiry, problem solving, and communication skills vital to student success.

As a CSTA member, I am committed to scientific literacy for all students. Despite funding and political obstacles, CSTA must continue to be a collective voice for California science educators. In these tumultuous times, it is imperative that we creatively continue to empower, inspire, and advocate for science education as a collective community. CSTA must continue to be a catalyst for educational innovation, sharing of best practices, problem solving, decision-making, and lobbying for legislation to support our shared vision.

Intermediate (Grades 3-5) Director: Joanne Michael

Joanne has been working as a science specialist at Meadows Elementary School (Manhattan Beach USD) since 2008. She initiated and continues to chair a school-wide Science Night every spring. Joanne also is the science chair of the elementary school science specialists and leads monthly collaboration meetings within her district. She is a member of CSTA and NSTA and has presented workshops at conferences for both organizations.

Science education is an incredible medium—a student truly discovers how and why the world behaves the way it does by interacting within it. It is my goal as a science teacher to light that fire of curiosity within each student, for them to discover more about the world, as well as about themselves. By using hands-on lessons, interactive technologies, and exciting discoveries happening every day around them, students are exploring science like never before. Installing a love and knowledge of science within them will help us send a generation into society, armed to make this world the best that it can be.

I focus my teaching on many of CSTA’s goals. I feel that students, no matter their age or ability, can find wonder and succeed in science. By “encouraging the natural curiosity of learners”, as stated in the vision statement, we can guide our students into this incredible world, and make it an even better place. With work, adaptability, and collaboration, I can see CSTA leading the way in science achievement.

4-Year College Director:  Susan Gomez-Zwiep

In 2005 Susan took the position of an Associate Professor at CSULB in the Science Education Department In addition, she has served as a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance since 2007 and has overseen several large grants providing professional development for teachers at the elementary, middle, high school, and university level. Susan is a lifetime member of CSTA and has presented numerous workshops and short courses as well as being a featured focus speaker at the annual California Science Education Conference.

Science teaching involves developing students’ understanding about scientific concepts as well as their ability to “do” science. Both types of knowledge are necessary to make informed decisions about personal and political issues. Students need to engage in discourse and argumentation about what data reveals about the natural world and how it fits with our current scientific explanations. Understanding how science knowledge is generated is essential to understanding science, including how debate and modification are inherent to the scientific process.

I grew-up in CSTA, at least professionally, and owe the organization a debt of gratitude for helping me become the science educator I am today. CSTA was my first professional organization. I made my first presentation at a CSTA conference. CSTA is still my primary information source for what is happening in science education. CSTA supports all levels of science teachers. The recent NGSS adoption creates an exciting opportunity for science teachers and CSTA will provide the leadership and resources necessary to support science teachers as we all move into the next generation.

Region 2 Director: Minda Berbeco

Minda is the Programs and Policy Director at the National Center for Science Education and a Visiting Scholar at the UC Museum of Paleontology. She has a PhD in Biology from Tufts University and is a member of CSTA, the National Association of Biology Teachers, and the American Geophysical Union. Minda has contributed several articles to the monthly California Classroom Science newsletter, and presented a workshop at the 2013 California Science Education Conference in Palm Springs.

Science isn’t just a subject in school; it is a way of seeing the world. Through science, students have the opportunity to answer questions about human origins and explanations for the Earth’s processes. Science tells us why we breathe and how our hearts beat; science can even tell us why it is we feel love, sadness or joy. Science education though is not just about providing answers. It is about exploring our environment, being creative about ideas and generating hypotheses to help explain what we observe. Science and science education are opportunities to explore and understand the world, with important implications for students and society as a whole.

Through their determination and hard work, CSTA has provided educators around the state with the vision and inspiration necessary to engage students from many different backgrounds and interest levels. It would be a delight and honor to be able to further CSTA’s mission of engaging and supporting educators, disseminating science to all students in the state and encouraging a future where all citizens of California understand and support science.

Region 4 Director: Peter A’Hearn

For the past 8 years, Peter has been the K-12 Science Curriculum Specialist at Palm Springs Unified School District and previously taught science at Desert Hot Springs High School for five years. He has served as Region 4 Director on the CSTA board, presented at fiveCalifornia Science Education Conferences, was co-chair of the 2013 conference, and is a regular contributor of articles for the California Classroom Science newsletter including a monthly NGSS Blog.

Science teachers know that science is a subject that can excite and inspire and blow kids minds. By engaging students in hands-on science, projects, and real world problem solving we can inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and scientifically literate citizens. Too often the demands of testing have turned science in a dull march through the standards. With the shift in standards, there is a brief window of opportunity to get it right and make science as exciting as it should be. CSTA is the voice of California teachers who want to make sure that the policies in Sacramento support the best kind of science education that our children deserve.

CSTA’s most important role is in providing a community for California science teachers to share ideas and energy. With the coming transition to the NGSS this role will be more important than ever. California science teachers are an amazingly creative group and CSTA through its conferences and newsletter is the place for them to share. CSTA also plays an important role as the voice of California science teachers in Sacramento. With NGSS being implemented this role will be more important than ever. Science teachers need to make sure that the coming changes represent the best for California students.

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.