September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

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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CSTA Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

Updated 7:25 pm, Nov. 17, 2017

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 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.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.