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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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.