September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1


Posted: Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

by Rick Pomeroy

Originally coined as part of a recruiting campaign for World War I (Your Country Wants YOU!), this phrase and the various images of Uncle Sam and Lord Kirchner that adorned the posters were responsible for large increases in the enlistments of volunteers on both sides of the Atlantic in 1916-17.  Now, roughly 95 years later, CSTA wants and needs you. We need you to enlist (or re-enlist) as a member of CSTA, we need you to serve in positions of leadership, we need you to volunteer on the committees that do the work of this organization so that we can advocate for high quality science education for all children in California.

Membership is the core value of CSTA. When I took on the position as president of CSTA, I promised that this would be YOUR Association. CSTA exists for science teachers, to advocate for high quality science education for all children, to provide high quality professional development opportunities, and to provide a professional venue for science teachers to collaborate on innovative and effective strategies for preparing a scientifically literate population. This will only work when CSTA actually represents science teachers. Organizations across the country are struggling with membership. During tight budgetary times and as new forms of communication and collaboration enter our lives, we often lose track of the power and value of an organization that represents our collective beliefs. We lose the opportunities to communicate with our peers, when we turn to a worldwide, seemingly unfocused entity for our information and updating our skills and strategies. By focusing on what is most convenient, we lose focus on those things that are specific to California. We lose a sense of being part of something that can make a difference here. Essentially we lose our voice.

As we move into 2012, I encourage you to renew your membership in CSTA and invite at least one new science teacher or new elementary teacher to join. Better yet, offer to sponsor a new teacher as a way of welcoming them into the profession. The cost of joining CSTA is $39 plus there are two membership incentives available. If you are a first or second year teacher, you can become a new member and get your second year’s membership for free, or if you are a current CSTA member, you can get your next year’s membership for free when you get three new members to join. Information about these membership incentives is available on CSTA’s website at

Service is the second place where CSTA wants you. In order to be a part of the changes that are coming this year and in the future, please consider running for one of the open positions on the Board of Directors. The Board sets policies and the agenda for the Association and it oversees structure, venue, and format of the annual conference. CSTA is currently accepting nominations for the positions of Treasurer, 4-Year College Director, High School Director, Intermediate (grades 3-5) Director, Region 2, and Region 4 Directors. Directors will serve a two-year term beginning July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2014. To make a difference, please consider taking a leadership role in YOUR association and running for one of the open positions on the Board. Information about the nomination process can be obtained at the CSTA website:

Volunteering to serve on one the committees that do the work of the Board and the association is a third way to shape the future of the organization and science education at the same time. We currently have committees that deal with issues of finance, membership, electronic communications, publications, long term planning, oversight of legislative actions, nominations, conference planning, and NSTA Relations.  Each committee is chaired by a Board member and each has a charge for this year and will develop goals and objectives for the coming years. Committee service is a valuable way to participate in the running of your organization, a way to give back to the association, and a way to become acquainted with CSTA leadership, policies, and organization. It is a great first step for those people who want to take on leadership positions in this professional organization. If you are interested in serving on a committee, please send an email to me at or write a comment in the comment section below and I will contact you.

As we enter 2012, it would be wrong to say that we are entering a war but we are definitely embarking on a very important and historic campaign. We have a new Conceptual Framework that will guide the development of the Next Generation Science Standards and we have allies in the California Department of Education and STEM based companies throughout California who want to see change in the status quo. However, we are up against tight budget times and bureaucratic inertia. On the positive side, we do have as an ally SB 300, the legislation that directs the Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop new Science Standards for the State of California with a tentative roll out of those new standards in Fall 2012 and adoption soon after. These are going to be busy times. As CSTA advocates for higher quality science education for all students, we need your participation and more importantly your voice. We want and need you as members so that our collective voice represents YOUR wishes.

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California, Davis and is CSTA’s president.

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Written by Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis.

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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.