May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Exploratorium Opens at New Home April 17, 2013

Posted: Monday, April 1st, 2013

New Embarcadero Gem to Feature 150 New Exhibits, Bay Observatory, Outdoor Gallery and Free Civic Space

ExploratoriumOn April 17, 2013, the Exploratorium will open at Pier 15 at the heart of the revitalized San Francisco waterfront radically improving access to visitors from all over the world and dramatically enhancing the size and scope of the museum. With three times more space overall than its previous home, the new Exploratorium will engage the curiosity and creativity of visitors of any age as they explore 150 brand ­new exhibits amongst more than 600 that will be on view. For the first time, the Exploratorium expands its investigations into the bay, city, and outdoor landscape.

Bending light with prisms.

Bending light with prisms.

As the global leader in informal learning, an approach that encourages learning outside the classroom, and the world’s most experimental museum, the Exploratorium will make use of the remarkable new space to push the boundaries once again. For the first time in 44 years, the signature ah­hah! Exploratorium exhibits will be featured outdoors, taking advantage of the city and bay to encourage visitors to observe and engage in their environments like never before. Visitors will be able to experience their own storm by adjusting the frequency, size and velocity of raindrops (umbrella highly recommended), step into the mobile Camera Obscura and see an upside­down world before them, and interact in real­time with invisible life – teeny­tiny plankton that produce almost half the oxygen we breathe. The site will feature the Bay Observatory, an all­ glass building. The Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery and Terrace, on the second level, is for viewing the waterfront and the city, designed to allow visitors to explore the science of the bay, the landscape, and the human impacts that have shaped the Bay Area. The new Exploratorium will also offer 1.5 acres of free public space ­­ a part of the Outdoor Gallery, for visitors to enjoy the views and play with participatory exhibits tied to the surrounding environment.

Visitors play with the physics of orbiting, finding that spinning a disk on its side prolongs the time and distance of the orbit.

Visitors play with the physics of orbiting, finding that spinning a disk on its side prolongs the time and distance of the orbit.

The 330,000 square­foot indoor/outdoor project is being designed and constructed with the goal of becoming the largest net­zero energy museum in the United States, if not the world. True to the spirit of the Exploratorium and the nature of net­zero, achieving such an ambitious degree of energy ­efficiency will require monitoring and tinkering over time. The entire undertaking will be a real­time educational exhibit, with live energy use and photovoltaic production data on public display.

Along with the move, the Exploratorium will expand its programming and remain open late two nights a week. Wednesday it is open to the public from 10am-­10pm. And for those who want to experience this exuberant learning laboratory amongst other adults, the Exploratorium will be open exclusively to the 18 and older crowd on Thursday evenings for After Dark, from 6­10pm, with a cash bar. Special programs will be offered both evenings.

The opening of the new Exploratorium is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year. With the move to the new site, the world­renowned Exploratorium will attract even more visitors of all ages to play, observe and discover while soaking in the beauty of the bay and cityscape. But as always, exhibits will retain the familiar home­made authentic quality for which the Exploratorium is famous.

Opening partners are: PG&E, Premier Opening Partner and Lead Sustainability Partner; Chevron, Premier Opening Partner; Genentech, Premier Opening Partner; SunPower, Supporting Partner; Wells Fargo, Supporting Partner; KGO­TV, Premier Media Partner; San Francisco Chronicle, Premier Media Partner;San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority, Premier Media Partner.

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.

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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.