September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Just one of the benefits of attending the CSTA Conference …

Posted: Friday, October 1st, 2010

Temecula middle school teacher joins island ecology research team

Friday, May14th, 2010
Issue 19, Volume 14.
Ashley Cook, Valley News Staff
Science teacher Cheryl Buettner explains the properties of water to her class. Paul Gallaher photo.

A Temecula science teacher recently received a fully-funded environmental research trek to a Caribbean island.

Cheryl Buettner, a teacher at the River Springs Charter School, is one of 22 educators from eight states to receive fellowships distributed by the nonprofit Earthwatch Institute, an international advocacy group made up of nature-oriented volunteers.

She considers her classroom approach to be a mix of discipline and comical entertainment aimed at educating future Nobel Prize winners. Within the school, she is assigned to the Da Vinci Academy for middle school students.

“I’ve always considered myself to be the love child of Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Miss Frizzle from the Magic School Bus,” the 46-year-old teacher said in a recent telephone interview. “I’ll do anything with costumes, hands-on activities, reader’s theater plays – anything that helps demonstrate concepts – while having fun and still using good solid science.”

The fellowships are funded by the Northrop Grumman Foundation. Northrop Grumman is a global security and weapons development company.

“I am very grateful they made this possible,” said Buettner, a Fallbrook resident. “It’s not something I can usually afford on a teacher’s salary. I’ve always wanted to do something like this, but never had the opportunity to do so.”

Buettner learned about the fellowship program while she was attending a California Science Teachers Association conference last year. She was selected because of her geographic location, her potential contribution to ongoing research and her follow-up curriculum plan.

A former biomedical researcher, Buettner left the world of animal testing to pursue a goal of inspiring future scientists. She has taught multiple grade levels, from preschool through adults, during her 15-year tenure as a teacher.

She also served as an education coordinator for the Grassland Environmental Education Center, and a gifted and talented education coordinator for the Los Banos Unified School District. Advertisement
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Taya Lazootin of the Perris Elementary School District also received the same fellowship. The fellowships include an expedition focused on climate change through a program developed by Earthwatch.

Buettner and Lazootin will journey to the Bahamas to study ways of preserving the coastal ecology of the island.

The Bahamas expedition teams will focus on research sites at the archipelago’s southern islands of Long Island, Great Exuma and Great Inagua.

Buettner is currently teaching her students about weather and water. The expedition fits in perfectly with class subjects like that, she said.

“(The expedition) will provide me with real-world experience,” she added. “I’ll be collecting data and studying the direct human impact on the environment.”

Finding a balance between human needs and their impacts on the environment is critical for the future, she said.

“I am so excited to be a part of this,” she said. “Ever since I was in college at Berkeley doing field research, I’ve wanted to get back in the field and collect data.”

The knowledge she will gain from the expedition will aid her students’ understanding of math and science, and help inspire the next generation of environmental ambassadors, according to a Northrop Grumman Foundation and Earthwatch Institute news release.

“As exciting as it is to hear about the teachers’ research experiences in various places around the world, it can be even more exciting to watch the ripple effect that takes place when they return from their Earthwatch expedition – in their classroom and communities,” Ed Wilson, Earthwatch president and chief executive, said in the release.

“We’re thrilled with Northrop Grumman Foundation’s support of this important program at a time when we need action, not apathy, in the face of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.”

Visit to learn more about the expedition.

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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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.