May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Friendly Word from Region 2

Posted: Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Minda Berbeco

Hi Region 2! We at CSTA are revving up for the CSTA conference this fall, and I can’t wait to see you all there! I’ll be holding “office hours” at the booth – times to be determined – so definitely come meet me there. I’ll also be holding a workshop on Saturday 8-11 am on Climate Change and Energy, so come and check it out! I’d love to hear all of the great things that you are working on this fall. There is so much happening this fall to keep track of, but I want to keep you in the loop of some really neat programs you should definitely check out!

One program you might be interested in is the YESS project:

The YESS Project team (Marin County Community Development Agency, Coravai, Shore Up Marin, and USC Sea Grant) is developing a new NGSS-aligned, project-based sea level rise curriculum for high school students. We’re looking for a few Bay Area teachers to partner with us and pilot the project in their classrooms during the 2015 – 2016 school year. This is a great opportunity for you to educate, engage, and empower your students to be part of climate change solutions in their own communities!

The YESS Project is flexible and can be scaled to fit you and your students’ needs and interests. Engagement ranges from a single 90-minute lesson plan with homework and extension options, to a multi-subject arc that could occur periodically throughout the 2015 – 2016 school year. The major components of the project are:

  • Classroom curricula: Activity plans that use engaging CC/NGSS strategies to get students using science and engineering practices (SEPs) to perform real-life climate science even as they become authentic participants in community planning.
  • Extensions and local field trips: Students will be able to collect real-world data for sea level rise planning, independently or as part of a planned field trip (funding is available for field trips).
  • Service learning, internships, and portfolio-building: Students will have opportunities to contribute in meaningful ways to Bay Area local government planning and policy; to create digital storytelling products, and to share their work in public venues. Short-term internships and youth leadership opportunities are also available.

Timeline

  • Sept – Oct 2015: Teacher training, gather feedback on curricula, finalize classroom and extension / community activities
  • Nov 2015 – Feb 2016: Pilot curriculum, collect data, develop digital storytelling products
  • Mar – May 2016: Exhibit students’ work at community meetings and public venues, evaluate project

Next Steps

We will hold a short training on the curriculum and connection to local government planning in mid-October. Participating teachers will receive a stipend, support from the state for your school’s transition to NGSS, and a nice meal.

Please visit the project website (www.yessproject.org) or get in touch with Marina Psaros, Project Director, at marina@coravai.com or 415.839.8571 to learn more.

Another program that you might find interesting comes from my organization- the National Center for Science Education:

We are piloting a program this fall with Oakland schools to Get a Scientist into YOUR classroom

This fall we are piloting the Scientists in the Classroom program and we want your class to be a part of it. We’ll match you and your students with a vetted scientist to connect with both in-person and online throughout the fall semester. Participating in the Scientists in the Classroom Fall 2015 pilot is a fantastic opportunity to engage your students with scientists, enriching their evolution and climate change learning experience!

Want to find out more? Check out our website!

Apply to be a part of the semester-long pilot here!

Written by Minda Berbeco

Minda Berbeco

Minda Berbeco is the Programs and Policy Director at the National Center for Science Education and is CSTA’s Region 2 Director.

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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.