September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

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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California Science Assessment Update

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 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.

Some ways to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in your classroom

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. 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.

2016 Award Recipients – Join CSTA in Honoring Their Accomplishments

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

John Keller

John Keller

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…

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.

NGSS: Making Your Life Easier

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Peter A’hearn

Wait… What?

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…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Celestial Highlights, September 2016

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…

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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.