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 past-president of CSTA. She serves as chair of CSTA’s Nominating Committee and is a co-chair of the NGSS Committee.

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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.