May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Goodbye, and Thank You – Hello, and Welcome

Posted: Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

On June 30th, the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) said, “Goodbye, and Thank You” to five of its dedicated Board members.  On July 1st, we said, “Hello, and Welcome” to the five newly elected.  It is my pleasure to tell you about these outstanding professionals.

Outgoing Board Members

Minda Berbeco, outgoing Region 2 Director is recognized for her service by CSTA President Lisa Hegdahl.

Minda Berbeco, outgoing Region 2 Director is recognized for her service by CSTA President Lisa Hegdahl.

In her role as Region 2 Director, Minda Berbeco raised the bar in terms of outreach. Minda also co-chaired, and will continue to co-chair, the Publications Committee. As president, I have some leeway in my due dates for my monthly President’s Message for the CSTA on-line Journal, California Classroom Science. Minda is very patient with me when my messages do not come in right on time. Recently, Minda, and her employer the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), graciously opened their office on a Saturday to host the CSTA Board of Directors meeting.   

Minda was CSTA Region 2 Director and served faithfully on the:

  • Publications Committee (Co-Chair – a job she will continue)  
  • Membership/Marketing/Preservice Committee

Susan Gomez-Zwiep, outgoing 4-Year College Director is recognized for her service by CSTA President Lisa Hegdahl.

Susan Gomez-Zwiep, outgoing 4-Year College Director is recognized for her service by CSTA President Lisa Hegdahl.

Susan Gomez Zwiep and I initially met back in January of 2014 at one of the first planning meetings for the CA NGSS Rollouts. That summer, she was an instructor for my CA NGSS Early Implementation cadre and she blew me away with her patience and professionalism. It was while serving with her on the California Framework Criteria Committee last year that I experienced her extensive, in-depth knowledge of educational practices.

Susan has served with distinction as Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Her committee work includes:

  • Membership/Marketing/Preservice Committee
  • NGSS Committee
Joanne Michael, outgoing Upper Elementary Director is recognized for her service by CSTA President Lisa Hegdahl.

Joanne Michael, outgoing Upper Elementary Director is recognized for her service by CSTA President Lisa Hegdahl.

One of my fondest memories of Joanne Michael is hosting Comedy Night at the California Science Education Conference in Sacramento, October 2015. It was a long night (after a very long day) of selling tickets, passing out beads, and pointing people in the right direction. We eventually ended up at the photo booth posing in wacky ways. Those photos are on my classroom whiteboard so I can see them every day.

Joanne will complete her role as Upper Elementary Director for CSTA.

She has also provided input on a variety of committees:

  • e-Communications Committee
  • NGSS Committee
  • 2015 Conference  Committee
  • Publications Committee
  • 2016 Conference Committee – where she is helping to spearhead the Upper Elementary Pathways
Jeff Orlinsky, outgoing High School Director is recognized for his service by CSTA President Lisa Hegdahl.

Jeff Orlinsky, outgoing High School Director is recognized for his service by CSTA President Lisa Hegdahl.

Jeff Orlinsky has a tremendous amount of knowledge about how organizations work and how teachers can influence those mechanisms. In his role as chair of the Legislative Oversight Committee (LOC), he has been instrumental in guiding the CSTA Board’s understanding of legislative issues.  Jeff will continue on as a LOC committee member in 2016/17. Jeff has a wonderful, dry sense of humor that can soften tense moments. I’ll miss his many “Jeffisms.”

Jeff has served as High School DIrector for CSTA and on the:

  • NGSS Committee  
  • Legislative Oversight Committee (Chair)
  • Bylaws Committee  (Chair)
  • e-Communications Committee
Jeanine Wulfenstein, outgoing Treasurer Director is recognized for her service by CSTA President Lisa Hegdahl.

Jeanine Wulfenstein, outgoing Treasurer Director is recognized for her service by CSTA President Lisa Hegdahl.

I first met Jeanine Wulfenstein four years ago when she and I were scheduled to staff the CSTA booth during the annual California Science Education Conference. We hit it off right away. Last year, we served together on the California Framework Criteria Committee. Her good humor got me through many long hours. While it is sad to see Jeanine leave the Board,  she will continue to serve CSTA as a member of the Membership/Marketing/Preservice  Committee.

In Jeanine’s tenure on the Board, she served elected terms as Region 4 Director and Treasurer.

She also served on a wide range of committees:

  • 2013 Conference Committee
  • Publications Committee
  • Nominating Committee
  • Legislative Oversight Committee
  • Executive Committee
  • NGSS Committee
  • 2016 Conference Committee
  • Finance Committee (Chair)
  • Financial Review Committee (Chair)

Meet Your NEW Board Members!

Jennie Guzman, 2016-2018 4-Year College Director

Jennie Guzman, 2016-2018 4-Year College Director

Jennie Guzman, CSTA 4-Year College Director, is a Professor of Physics at California State University, East Bay in Hayward. She has participated in many science education initiatives, including Expanding Your Horizons (EYH), STEM Teacher and Researcher (STAR) Program, STEM West Institute, The Integrated Middle School Science (IMSS) Partnership, and Science Partnership for Instructional Innovation (SPFII). Jennie believes in inspiring curiosity and excitement for learning at all levels by transforming the science classroom and providing opportunities for the community to learn about science in their everyday life. She is excited about being more involved in CSTA as the organization serves a pivotal role in this process. In addition she sees CSTA as an advocate for science educators at the state level, ensuring that the interests of science educators are well known to policy-makers and state-level legislators.

 

Toby Spencer, 2016-18 High School Director

Toby Spencer, 2016-18 High School Director

Toby Spencer, CSTA High School Director, has taught secondary science for 17 years in most curricular areas, including biology, medical science, physiology, Earth science, chemistry, physical science, and math. He currently chairs the NEA Science Caucus, which he founded and organized nationally over the past 7 years. Toby also serves as Vice Chair of the CTA Career Technical Education Committee, where they create policy to direct their legislative lobbyists.  Currently, he is a semi-finalist for the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship. Toby believes that a Science educator’s primary mission is to cultivate students’ innate wonder, which builds scientific skills and knowledge through iterations of discovery and failure. Teaching of students must shift to include a full range of science practices through authentic lab experiences. Toby is honored to help CSTA lead the shift to student-centered science and 21st century skills of NGSS.

Mena Parmar, 2016-18 Upper Elementary Director

Mena Parmar, 2016-18 Upper Elementary Director

Mena Parmar, CSTA Upper Elementary Director, is an experienced Elementary Classroom Teacher and Elementary Science Specialist in Fremont. Her work with the Exploratorium in San Francisco, as a Master Teacher with Bay Sci Champions, has given her the opportunity to collaborate with master teachers from all around the San Francisco Bay Area. Mena’s experience as an Instructional Case Field Tester and an NGSS Instructional Innovator has given her insight into the shifts required in Elementary Science. Mena asserts that Science education must prepare all students to be 21st century citizens who are scientifically literate, can make informed decisions, discuss science and engineering issues and are careful consumers of scientific and technological information related to their everyday lives. In order for all students to have the skills required to enter careers of their choice, science concepts must be organized systematically from PK through College in a way that keeps students natural wonder alive. She would like to help CSTA reach out to all elementary multiple subject classroom teachers to lead them in the successful implementation of CA NGSS.

Marie Bacher, Region 2 Director

Marie Bacher, Region 2 Director

Marie Bacher, CSTA Region 2 Director, has been an educator for 25 years. She has taught almost every grade level from preschool through 8th grade. For the past 16 years, she has been a Science Teacher On Special Assignment (TOSA) for the Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD). In addition, she served as an administrator for the Santa Clara County of Education as a co-director of environmental education at Walden West Camp. Currently in SCUSD, Marie plans, leads and facilitates the implementation of NGSS K-12 and coordinates the district science fair. Marie states that Science education and the role of science education in society is to create a scientifically literate community that can make decisions based on the evidence that is known currently. As a member of the CSTA Board of Directors, Marie hopes to help the Association continue to provide resources for science teachers, administrators and pre-service teachers and inspire and educate all teachers about the cutting edge and best practices that science teaching has to offer.

Gini Vandergon, 2016-18 Treasurer

Gini Vandergon, 2016-18 Treasurer

Virginia (Gini) Vandergon, CSTA Treasurer, began her teaching career as a high school biology teacher in 1984. She earned her doctoral degree in Genetics at University of California, Riverside (UCR). She is currently a Full Professor of Biology at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). At CSUN, she was hired into a dual position in which she was expected to teach and do research in genetics and serve as the K-12 science education liaison. Virginia feels she is qualified for the Treasurer position as she handles most of the grant finances and has controlled finances for many clubs and scout programs. She has a minor in mathematics and a background in teaching secondary school math. Virginia explains that with the adoption of NGSS, we are entering a new era where science can be taught the way it is performed. She believes that the primary challenge for CSTA will be to integrate NGSS into K-16 curriculum. As a member of the writing team of the NGSS frameworks for the state, she is deeply involved in this work. It is an exciting time to be part of CSTA which is involved in framework, curriculum, and assessment development, especially as the nation looks to California as a leader in NGSS education.

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.