May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Looking Forward Towards the Future of Science Education

Posted: Thursday, November 1st, 2012

by Rick Pomeroy

The following is the text of the President’s address at the opening session of the 2012 California Science Education Conference:

These are exciting times to be in science education. Since the last time we talked, a lot has happened in our schools that will fundamentally change our teaching, science education, and, most importantly, the learning and lives of our students.

The child born today will begin school in 2017. He or she will graduate high school in 2029, college in 2035, and work as a productive citizen through 2070. Given the trends in life expectancy, the child born today will be alive in 2100. The decisions we make today will impact choices and opportunities for a significant period of time.

This conference has been planned as one of the first steps in beginning that long road to a new understanding of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math and how it impacts our lives. To understand the content of this conference, from our opening keynote speaker, Dr. Helen Quinn, to our closing speaker, Josh Tickell, you have to know what has been happening behind the scenes. Since we last met about a year ago, in Pasadena, Common Core Standards have been adopted and implemented in your schools. Many of you have attended and participated in strategy meetings, professional development, and implementation conferences to make this transition happen. This process has not been without its challenges and it will continue to be a hot topic among teachers and pundits alike. Though focused primarily on English language arts and math, there are significant parts of the Common Core Standards that influence your science teaching. Math includes greater emphasis on practices such as computational modeling and reasoning and English language arts contains specific expectations for reading and writing in technical subjects like science and history. In my visits to classrooms, I can already see these expectations in place. There is a greater emphasis placed on the academic writing in lab reports and the use of evidence to support conclusions. We see increases in graphing, mathematical reasoning, and yes, even in the use of algebra.

Fortunately, Common Core Standards are only the beginning. Things are changing in science as well. Common Core has opened the door for a fresh new look at what can be done when California decides to work with other states towards a common goal of better student understanding and learning.

In a few minutes, our keynote speaker will tell you about the vision for science education through the lens of the Conceptual Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards.

To give you some context of how we got to this point, I think it is important to know what CSTA has been doing on your behalf. There have been countless information meetings, task force conferences, legislative sessions, and school board meetings, all focused on the new vision for science education that will engage and inspire students and prepare them for college or career in STEM fields. Just this past week, I attended the final meeting of the STEM Task Force, the STEM Summit in San Diego, and the National Implementation meeting in Indianapolis. In the weeks and months since our Pasadena conference, we have all had a chance to review the first public draft of NGSS and in a few weeks, you will have a chance to review the second and FINAL public draft of the NGSS. Early next year, the final version of those standards will be released after which you will have two additional chances for public comment. Finally, roughly thirteen months from today, the State Board of Education will make a decision on the content of the Standards for California.

When I opened, I described how decisions we make now will have a lasting impact into the 22nd Century. It is imperative that you, the leaders in science education, take part in this process. You must make your voices heard if you want to have a say in the future of science education.

Now, you may be asking yourself, how much can my one voice matter? With the national election coming soon, we hear that comment a lot. So let me tell you about one concrete example where your voice made the difference. This past May, our Governor, in an effort to fix the State budget, proposed decreasing the science requirements for high school graduation from two years to one. Given all of the efforts and discourse about strengthening science and technology as a cure for a stagnant economy this ides seemed ridiculous. But the Governor argued that in tough times, you had to make tough decisions. We did not agree! Instead, CSTA, along with other science organizations, mounted a successful campaign that mobilized you to contact your representative, legislators, and the Governor himself with the message that in this case, Less is not More! Clearly, Less is Less. At CSTA we were proud of your efforts to stand up and say No! Through that process, you demonstrated your voice in maintaining the two-year requirement.

In the coming year, you need to raise your voices again. Through CSTA, and other professional organizations such as the California Science Projects, K-12 Alliance, CISC and CSLNet, you need to participate in the review and adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards and the implementation of a new STEM empowered way of teaching and learning. We must realize that we are making decisions that will have impact well into the 22nd Century.

In closing, I would like to paraphrase Linda Darling-Hammond who described our task as teachers as preparing the children of today, to use the tools of tomorrow, to answer the questions that haven’t yet been asked.

The speakers and the conference can and should be your first step down the road to making this happen.

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Written by Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis and is a past-president of CSTA.

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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 zi@cascience.org.)

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.

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Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

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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

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  • 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)
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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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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.

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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: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

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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.