May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Earth Science Events Shake Things Up for October!

Posted: Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

by Cindy Pridmore

Earth_Science_Week_LogoEarth Science Week occurs October 12-18 this year, and the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) has a website packed full of information and online resources! Last year at CSTA’s 2013 conference, I was surprised at how most teachers I spoke with were not aware of this national and international event and all the resources associated with it. There are so many ways to get your kids involved and lots of online materials, activities, and contests outlined on the AGI website. This year’s theme is “Earth’s Connected Systems,” which aims to engage everyone in exploring the ways that geoscience provides insight into natural change processes. During Earth Science Week there are daily themes that include International Earthcache Day, Earth Science Literacy Day, No Child Left Inside Day, National Fossil Day, Geoscience for Everyone Day, and Geologic Map Day! For teachers seeking information about our state, the California Geological Survey has Earth Science Week links to California geology, state fossil/mineral/gem, and more.

ShakeOutLogoGet Down for The Great California ShakeOut! On October 16th make sure your class is signed up to participate in the ShakeOut earthquake drill! Many California school districts are registered to participate in this annual earthquake drill, but we still need to spread the word on earthquake awareness, preparedness, and readiness. ShakeOut is endorsed by State Superintendent Tom Torlakson and the American Red Cross, and by participating, your kids can inspire others to better prepare! Districts, schools, and/or classrooms can register to participate. There is flexibility for the timing of your drill – even if you are not able to have it on October 16, any day in October still counts! If you are not sure whether your school is signed up yet you can check online. Last year over 24.9 million people participated globally in this drill! ShakeOut educational resources have been organized for teachers to discuss earthquakes and preparedness in class. For additional information on California earthquakes follow these links to the California Geological Survey, Earthquake Country Alliance, U.S. Geological Survey.

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NAGTFar Western Section-National Association of Geoscience Teachers October 10-12, 2014. This field-oriented conference is open to anyone who has an interest in geology! Geoscience teachers of all levels are encouraged to participate in this conference hosted by California State University Sacramento, as it provides a great opportunity for university, community college, and K-12 educators to network, share insights, and form connections. Continuing education credit will be offered through CSU-Sacramento.

Saturday fieldtrips include the geology of the western Sierra Nevada, geology, and hydrology of the Sacramento Delta, mineral resources of the Yuba Gold Fields (California Mineral Education Foundation), local geology of the Sacramento area, and mercury in the California Gold Rush streams. Executive Officer of the California Mining and Geology Board, Stephen Testa, will speak Friday evening providing a fascinating overview of California’s early days of mapping and gold mining, and the formative years of the state’s higher education plan. Stephen’s presentations are always sprinkled with wit, wry humor, and nuggets of insight and perspective. The Saturday evening speaker is Sue McClurg, Executive Director of the Water Education Foundation speaking on central California’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan. Sue is an award winning journalist and is the author of Water & the Shaping of California. The Water Education Foundation is the California Coordinator for Project WET.

The NAGT-FW conference also offers a choice half-day workshops and field trips on Sunday that cover mineral properties and mineral uses, atmospheric circulation modeling and the NGSS, historical geology and the use of ChronoZoom, Consumnes River Preserve, and dinosaurs and other Mesozoic reptiles of California. For more details about the conference, registration, field trips, and location of events, go to the NAGT-FW website.

Stay tuned for future news of the upcoming 2015 Spring NAGT Far Western Section Conference, which will be held at California State University Bakersfield.

Cindy Pridmore is an Engineering Geologist at the California Geological Survey, and works in Seismic Hazards & Education and Public Outreach; she is a member of CSTA.

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

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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.