September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

In Memoriam . . .

Posted: Friday, October 1st, 2010

Robert Rice
Robert Rice

CSTA Bids Farewell to One of its Heroes

Robert Rice, one of the founders of CSTA, died Sunday evening, August 29, 2010.  He was 99 years old.

Bob, along with Margaret Nicholson and others, started the Northern California section of CSTA in 1970, which eventually evolved into the statewide organization we know today.  He served as president of the association from 1951-1952, and was the association’s first executive director, serving in that position from his office at Lawrence Hall of Science from 1974 to 1985.

Bob was actively involved in science education, notably the San Francisco Bay Area Science Fair and the Northern California Western Nevada Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (both of which he co-founded) until very recently and was on the team that designed Lawrence Hall of Science.  He was president of the National Science Teachers Association in 1960-61, and in 1986 was a recipient of the NSTA Distinguished Service to Science Education Award.  Bob was also the first recipient of the CSTA Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, in 1981.

Bob taught at Berkeley High School for 34 years, where he had future UC President David Pierpont Gardner in his class.  Dick Merrill, a longtime friend of Bob’s, recalls, “He loved to tell about how Gardner failed miserably at identifying unknowns in chemistry class.  He almost got a ‘D’ in chemistry, which would have had serious consequences for university eligibility.  Finally it was revealed that Gardner was colorblind, a serious handicap in doing ‘wet chemistry’ analysis.  They worked something out so that Gardner got a ‘C’ and was able to continue his academic education.”

Bob served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, teaching meteorology to prospective pilots and airmen.

Quoting from the memorial service program, “Bob’s dedication to youth and science education lasted throughout his lifetime.  His legacy will last in the lives and successes of all those who were privileged to participate in the programs he provided for them.”

Says Dick Merrill, “Bob was my friend and mentor for 48 years.”

All of CSTA mourns the passing of this great leader and wishes Bob’s family well.

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.

One Response

  1. I remember well when we gathered at Margaret’s home in Jenner to think about the possibility of forming a state wide science association. I was always impressed by Bob’s wisdom and deep concern for students. I was extremely fortunate to have both Bob and Margaret as mentors in my early years of teaching, I miss them both.

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CSTA Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

Updated 7:25 pm, Nov. 17, 2017

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 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.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.