May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

CSTA Night at the Aquarium – A Good Time Was Had by All!

Posted: Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

by Jill Grace and Laura Henriques

Close to 700 science educators enjoyed an evening of Science, Engineering and STEM at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific on Thursday, December 4th. This great CSTA event was co-hosted by Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific and CSTA and sponsored by Chevron.

In addition to having the entire aquarium to ourselves, there were five scientists who gave talks, two dozen table-top STEM/Engineering showcase presentations and the LBAOP’s Science on a Sphere. After eating dinner, glowstick-clad attendees visited the penguins, jellies, and other exhibits representing marine life of the pacific.


The science talks addressed some cutting edge research and science citizen projects. Their talks were great and CSTA appreciates them donating their time. It was a late night for them (especially considering it was a school night!).

CSTA Night at the Aquarium Speaker Series

CSTA Night at the Aquarium Speaker Series

Monitoring Pollution in Santa Monica Bay: Science Influencing Management
Mas Dojiri, Division Manager, Environmental Monitoring Division, Hyperion Treatment Plant

Mas Dojiri’s discussion of how pharmaceuticals make their way into the oceans and into fish tissue should make us all rethink what goes down drains and toilets. His talk highlighted the importance of critical consumption of scientific information as reported in the news.

Life in Deep Sea Hydrothermal Vents: Using Technology to Study Biodiversity in Extreme Environments
Karla Heidelberg, Associate Professor (Teaching) of Biological Sciences, Director of USC Environmental Studies Program

Karla Heidelberg did a great job emphasizing that exciting topics will engage kids and allow us to introduce the ‘hard science’. This technique allows us to ‘sneak in’ really hard-core science in ways that kids find palatable and actually crave. They want to know how organisms live and thrive at the hydrothermal vents and that requires some real science.

Earth Science from Space! Why I Love My Day Job Spying on Carbon with the NASA Orbiting Carbon Observatory
Michael Gunson, Global Change & Energy Program Manager & OCO-2 Project Scientist, Jet Propulsion Lab, California Institute of Technology

Mike Gunson helped us understand how the earth space satellite program missions provide scientists with an opportunity for large-scale hypothesis testing. He emphasized how the general public does not really understand hypothesis testing and still hold misconceptions about the methods which scientists use (by the way, it’s not the scientific method!).

Understanding Earthquakes: Science, Technology, and Resources
Erin Burkett, Geophysicist, USGS

Erin Burkett’s presentation about earthquakes and early warning systems was very interesting. The simulation of the LA Basin in a 7+ earthquake gives us all reason to pause and appreciate the extra few seconds an early warning system would provide. (click here for the USGS video simulation)

Kelp Watch 2014: Design, Recent Results, and Surprises
Steven Manley, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, California State University – Long Beach

Steve Manley’s presentation about searching for radioactivity from the Fukashima nuclear disaster helped us understand the currently measured risk (or relative lack thereof) from Cs-134 and Cs-137.The Kelp Watch project has processed kelp collected by groups from Baja California to Kodiak Islands. Collections from areas that the radioactive plume will not go are used as controls.

Chevron Logo

Thank you to our event sponsor: Chevron

The showcase presenters highlighted tried and true lessons and activities. You can find handouts and descriptions on the event’s Edmodo site.

Inputs and Outputs of Cells
This unit focuses on what every cell requires and produces. We explore how the cell gets what it needs and gets rid of what it doesn’t need. We explore what the cell does with the inputs to produce the outputs as well as which body system supports that.
Kerin Butterfield, Science Teacher, California Middle School

Geologic History- BBK Unit Module
Sobrato High School Geology teachers recently collaborated to create a BBK- Building Background Knowledge unit module, aligned to NGSS, on Geologic History and Plate Tectonics.
Heather Wygant, Geology Teacher, Sobrato High School

Backpack Robotics Inventing to Learn: Students Build Original Mars Rover Robot
We are integrating Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards by simulating the building of a Mars Rover robot from the ground up. Students follow building plans and use laser cutters and 3D printers to make parts for a simulated rolling robot. Students use STEAM++ Graphic Organizers and a ePortfolios.
Bob Barboza, STEM Director, Super School University – Kids Talk Radio Science

The Finches of Daphne Major: Use the Scientific Model of Natural Selection to Help Your Student’s Reason with Data and Explain the Phenomenon of the Galapagos Finches
The changes of the Galapagos Finches of Daphne Major are an excellent example of natural selection. This lesson shows how your students can use 11 pieces data and the model of Natural Selection to tell the story of the finches.
Jennifer Horton, Science Teacher, Lincoln High School

Global Climate Change: Earth System Carbon Cycle and Energy Flows
Global climate change is a great topic for modeling how to weave disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts (CCCs). These lessons and resources deepen understanding of climate change and of two major CCCs.
Art Sussman, Senior Project Director, WestEd

Dr. Bob’s SoundSchool: Teaching the Science of Sound Through Music
Dr. Bob’s SoundSchool is a 10-week experiential STEAM curriculum which teaches the science of sound through the magic of music to second-grade students. Throughout the curriculum, our goal is that children hear, touch, and feel sound with each activity, using electronic and acoustic instruments.
Michelle Moog-Koussa, Executive Director, Bob Moog Foundation

You Wind Some You Lose Some
Student engineers will be testing different blade designs of a wind turbine in order to maximize the power output. Students will be writing a formal lab report and organizing powerpoint team presentations in order to convince the public how society can utilize wind energy more efficiently.
Jamie Larson, Physics Teacher, Da Vinci Science High School

Connecting STEM and Literacy in the K-8 Classroom
Come learn how a K-8 STEM academy has developed STEM based interdisciplinary units of study that have significantly increased student achievement, especially for English learners and struggling readers. The design model makes every classroom lesson highly engaging with hands-on, minds-on learning experiences and opportunities for all students, everyday!
Patricia Maruca, Executive Director/Principal, Discovery Charter School

Let’s Prepare, Care and Share! Real Life Lessons About Earthquakes!
Prepare: What causes quakes? How do we prepare so we can stay safe? Care: Many places are affected by quakes! Why did the buildings suffer so much damage in Haiti, but not in Japan or the United States? Share: Is there anything we can do to help the people Haiti?
Camie Walker, Teacher & Facilitator Science Methods, Elementary & University of Phoenix

Colorimetry Made Easy Using DIY Instruments and Mobile Devices
The Community Science Academy @ Caltech (csa.caltech.edu), IO Rodeo (iorodeo.com), and L.A. Biohackers (biohackers.la) join forces to offer a hands-on lesson that uses a DIY colorimeter to measure solutes present in water collected from various sources. A free iPad application provides a way to collaboratively learn concepts and analyze data.
Douglas Foster, L.A. Biohackers

Integrating Geospatial Technologies for Underwater Data Collection and Analysis
Students at Clark Magnet High School use a remotely operated vehicle to collect underwater data for mapping and analysis in ArcGIS. Geotagged photographs and video taken by the ROV document the study area. Students use the ROV to investigate relevant marine issues and ArcGIS to model plausible solutions.
Dominique Evans-Bye, Teacher, Clark Magnet High School

Water Water Everywhere – Not a Drop to Spare
In this unit, students use chemistry, environmental biology, nanoscience and engineering concepts. The students collected data about local water and then used the data to design a water treatment proposal. Students learned about buffer systems and nanoscience through laboratories and applied the knowledge to an engineering challenge.
Cara Hale-Hanes, McBride High School

Where Has Mars’ Atmosphere Gone? Working with the MAVEN Mission
Using hands-On labs with instructions that you can take back to your classroom, learn about how you can teach your students about Earth’s magnetic field by mapping the magnetic field and then learn about Mars’ magnetic field by mapping its field and how does the relationship to the MAVEN Mission.
Dara DeVicariis, Earth Science Teacher, Colton High School

The M.Y. S.P.A.C.E. Program (Multinational Youth Studying Practical Applications of Climatic Events)
Join M.Y. S.P.A.C.E. – an international high school collaborative engaged in research on local impacts of global environmental issues. Students and their teachers use locally generated and satellite-based data mentored by NOAA and NASA, then meet annually to discover global trends in their collective data and present their findings.
Pete Arvedson, Science Teacher, Ret., Satellite Educators Association

Story Maps for STEM
Students at Clark Magnet High School use free online mapping software from ESRI to implement CCSS and NGSS. This presentation will showcase how Earth Science, Life Science and Physical Science disciplinary core ideas can be explored and communicated by students using GIS technology.
Alex Day-Blattner, Teacher, Clark Magnet High School

Underwater Robotics – Middle School, High School & College
Underwater Robotics in the classroom will be displayed showing teacher resources and completed Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) from Middle School, High School and College level programs.
Scott Fraser, Professor, Long Beach City College

Modeling DNA – Unlocking the Code
Students made and used three different models to learn about DNA and its role in protein synthesis. Models included a computer model, and two physical models. Students also evaluated the models for limitations and benefits of use.
Rachel Poland, Teacher, Innovation Middle School

Focus and Explore Wave Energy and STEM Education K-8
Focus on getting started with STEM education while effectively teaching the Next Generation Science Standards through inquiry-based practices instruction. Explore how to prepare your students for future careers in the 21st-century workforce and ensure effective achievement. Leave with tools to accelerate your STEM journey.
Susan Dewberry, Carolina Biological

Are Everywhere
The Aquarium of the Pacific strives to provide its audience a global perspective of complex Earth systems and tell stories about our planet and the environment. The wide variety of high-tech instruments monitoring our planet from space, on Earth’s surface, and under the ocean, are providing large amounts of data in real time, allowing scientists to understand the planet better than ever before. Join us as we introduce you to free data focus programs for the classroom and participate in data collection via a kelp forest ethogram.
Aquarium of the Pacific Staff

AstroAdventures
Experience all the excitement of being an astronaut without leaving school! Learn about the forces, temperatures, and pressure that exist in space. You can even launch a rocket!
California Science Center Staff

Membrane Engineering
People with kidneys that have failed need a way to exchange the wastes in their blood with the outside environment. This occurs through a membrane. We will be designing membranes whose structure functions to facilitate fast, efficient exchange of materials.
Philip Hudec, Palm Springs USD

Thanks to all our awesome CSTA members who graciously shared their expertise with colleagues after a long day of conference sessions. You rock!

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.