September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

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.



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:

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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.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw


This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.