May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Do I hear 51?

Posted: Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

Who is the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA)?

If you ask someone, they may answer this question by saying, “They are the people who organize the California Science Education Conference” or “They are advocates for state policies and legislation that support me in inspiring my students” or “As a statewide organization, they provide me with leadership opportunities.” While all of these are correct answers to the question, perhaps a more complete answer would be: 

You are the California Science Teachers Association.

CSTA is a statewide organization that is made up of over 3,000 members, and aside from a small (albeit amazing) office staff, CSTA is run entirely by member volunteers. While sixteen of these volunteers make up the CSTA Board of Directors, the remainder are members at large who give of their valuable time and expertise to make CSTA the leading science educator membership organization in the state of California. It is therefore fitting that the programs and services offered by CSTA exist in large part due to the support of its member volunteers. 

In 2016/2017, the California Science Teachers Association had a record number of its members volunteer to serve on its committees—a total of 50 non-Board members! Volunteering connects you with other CSTA members across the state and, as you contribute in your role as a committee member, you also learn from others while gaining insights into the workings behind the scenes of California science education. In addition, having a large number of CSTA members on committees allows for more science teacher voices to be represented at the state level, more sharing about what we are learning, and more input into developing our own professional learning experiences.

SEEKING COMMITTEE VOLUNTEERS

VolunteerIt is that time of year when CSTA calls its members to join one of the many CSTA committees. To join a committee, simply go the CSTA committee volunteer page and click the button. Be sure to indicate a first and 2nd choice. One of the many strengths of CSTA is in the diversity of its membership and it may be that a committee you had not considered will find your unique experiences helpful in making the decisions necessary to carry out its duties. If you are currently serving on a committee, be sure to sign up again to indicate your interest in continuing in that role. Thank you in advance to all who will answer the call and make next year the biggest year for volunteers yet!.

The deadline for CSTA Committee sign ups is midnight, Friday, May 13, 2016.

Committees of the California Science Teachers Association

2017 Conference Planning Committee
This committee plans the California Science Education Conference starting in October 2016 and finishing its work in October 2017. Committee members will meet in person and over the phone to plan the content – both fun and educational – for the 2017 conference. Volunteers needed: 8 – 12.

Legislative Oversight Committee
The Legislative Oversight Committee (LOC) monitors State and Federal legislative and policy issues, develops potential responses to issues and assists Executive Director and President in composing letters and communications in response to proposed legislation and state policies. The LOC informs members of pending legislation by writing articles for CCS and other social media venues. Volunteers needed: 6-10.

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Marketing/Communications/Membership/Preservice Committee
Develops strategies for increasing the visibility of the Association and attracting support from currently untapped sources. Reviews and provides feedback on new marketing materials to promote the association and membership. Promotes increased membership in the Association by attracting new members, retention of existing members, and return of past members. Monitors and proposesmembership incentivedesigned to increase membership. Develops strategies to engage new and preservice teachers in the Association. Volunteers needed: 5-7.

NGSS Committee
To monitor the progress of the implementation ofNGSSand inform the board as necessary, develop strategies and proposals for the CSTA board to consider as it relates to CSTA’s role in the implementation of the NGSS in California. The NGSS committee in 2015/2016 will be active in participating in the curriculum framework development process among other activities. Volunteers needed: 15-20.

Outreach/Electronic Communications Committee
This committee oversees all aspects of electronic communications and social media for the Association. Working in collaboration with the Executive Director and office staff, the Outreach/Electronic Communications Committee maintains all electronic social media and facilitates communications with members. Proposes policies and procedures for maintaining and promoting the digital image of the Association. Volunteers needed: 5-7.

Policy Committee

The CSTA Policy Committee works on both policy for CSTA as an organization, in conjunction with CSTA staff, and on position statements that are developed to articulate CSTA’s position and represent the membership’s views on topical issues that will promote high quality science education for all students. Membership on this committee by non-board members is vital to fully represent the diverse voices of California science teachers in this work. Volunteers needed 6-10.

Publications and Materials Review Committee
Oversees the publication of the California Classroom Science newsletter by soliciting, writing, and editing articles from members on a monthly basis. Develops strategies for generating income for the Association through advertising in Association publications. Investigates possible strategies for providing members only content. Volunteers needed: 5-7.

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Written by Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl is an 8th grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA and is President for CSTA.

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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.