May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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 Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. 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 California NGSS k-8 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy:

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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