May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Exciting Times for Science Education

Posted: Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

by Laura Henriques

These are exciting times for science education in California! On September 4, 2013 the California State Board of Education approved the adoption of Next Generation Science Standards for our K-12 classrooms. In a couple of weeks science educators from around the state will be gathering together in Palm Springs for CSTA’s 2013 California Science Education Conference. CSTA is actively involved in helping articulate how NGSS will come to fruition in our schools and classrooms and throughout the process we will do our best to keep you informed, gather input from our members, and share that information with the appropriate parties. We want to help ensure that you have the information and professional development you need to make a smooth transition from our current standards to Next Generation Science Standards. Additionally, we will continue to share opportunities for you to be more personally involved (e.g. providing feedback to the State Board of Education, applying for positions on committees and commissions, joining NGSS listserv, etc.).

One of the best things you can do to support your own transition to NGSS is to attend the conference at the end of the month! The Conference Committee has diligently worked to create a program that will meet your needs in both your current classroom and your NGSS classroom to come. Among the NGSS-related sessions planned is our opening Keynote General Session speaker, Dr. Stephen Pruitt. Dr. Pruitt is the Vice President for Content, Research, and Development for Achieve and led the development of the Next Generation Science Standards. His talk will follow the CSTA General Meeting on Friday morning. There will also be multiple sessions provided by the California Department of Education. These will span a variety of topics from a general overview of NGSS (on Friday and Saturday), to implementation issues and timelines, and an informational workshop related to the soon-to-be developed California Science Curriculum Framework (pending confirmation). There will also be several sessions that showcase activities and strategies featuring critical aspects of NGSS that you can use in your classroom. A quick search will show you that there are lots of NGSS-related workshops scheduled.

Beyond NGSS-themed sessions, you will also be able to learn new science content – take a look at some of the articles in this issue of CCS to find out about some of the speakers who will share cutting edge scientific research. There will be new ideas for your classroom teaching including sessions which provide explicit linkages between science and Common Core (both math and ELA), pedagogy-focused sessions which will provide you with new ways to think about how you work with students, and sessions about how non-verbal communication influences classroom management. You can also discover new labs, demos and activities which make content come alive for your students. There will even be a chance for you to try out some fun STEM activities at the Friday evening pool party. Of course, there is also the exhibit hall to provide you with the chance to meet with vendors and check out the latest science teaching equipment and supplies. I always leave the exhibit hall with something new to use in my classes.

Finally, we will close the conference with Dr. Laurence Smith, a climate scientist who will share his research about how the world is changing and what it will look like in the future. As educators we are trying to envision our educational world with Next Generation Science Standards, his work will help us understand the next generation of our planet.

I hope to see you in Palm Springs! It promises to be a great conference.

Advance registration ends on October 7th. On-site registration is available at the Palm Springs Convention Center starting Thursday, October 24, 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and a past-president of CSTA.

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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. 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 California NGSS k-8 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

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.

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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