January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

Maintaining Summer Engagement

Posted: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

by Joanne Cozens Michael 

Sunblock and beach towels, car trips that stretch out too long, and visits with friends. While summer can be a relaxing, wonderful time to unwind and rejuvenate, too often our students go far in the opposite direction, causing August/September to be a month of solid review of concepts from previous years before diving into new information. Although we cannot escape that entirely, keeping students engaged in learning new things via fun experiments throughout the summer can be a great way to keep their young brains going!

Most students have seen (or done) the “Diet Coke and Mentos” experiment (YouTube it if you haven’t seen it- it is GREAT!), and love it. Why stop there? Have students experiment with other colas, with fruit sodas, name brands against store brands, maybe peppermint vs fruit-flavored Mentos. Grocery stores regularly have 2-liter bottles of soda on sale for a dollar or less per bottle, and while Mentos are not on sale on a regular basis, Costco/Sam’s Club normally has large packs (individually wrapped in tubes of 14ish) for pretty cheap. They can measure it by height (if there is a grassy area near a brick wall for reference), by mass (measuring how much is left in the bottle), or any other way the scientists can think of!

Have some active kids who love to kick around a soccer ball? Turn it into an experiment! Deflate the ball until it is as flat as possible. Using a hand pump, pump it 10 times, and then kick it. If you happen to have an air pressure gauge that is sensitive, the students can get detailed results- otherwise, knowing the number of pumps on the hand pump will work for a summertime experiment. Yes, there is also the variable of the strength of the kick- the students can create a contraption to do the kicking for them! Every 10 pumps, measure the distance the ball travels, and see if there is a “sweet spot” for the ball to get the furthest kick.

This one is a personal favorite of mine-making bubble solution! 6 cups distilled water to 1 cup liquid dishwashing soap, and ¼ cup of light corn syrup works really well, and lasts for a long time. Dawn really does work the best… but what is the second best? Does any kind of liquid soap work? If you have young children or pets running around, be careful, as some kinds of soap can be toxic. They can make their own wands as well, using pipe cleaners, but sometimes the wands do not make good bubbles- if you can find extra bubble wands around, those may work out the best.

Making ice cream is a classic, uses a bit of science, and is a reward in itself at the end! Traditionally it was done using 2 coffee cans, but you can find balls to put the ingredients in online, and occasionally at local stores. Create some new flavors! How about root beer ice cream! Raspberry-chocolate chip? The students can run off some energy making the cans or ball move around for 20 minutes, can test the temperature of the forming ice-cream every 5 minutes, and when it is all ready to consume, have earned the reward of a dessert!

These are only a few ideas- the concept is to get the students out and into the world! Look at a bug, climb a tree, track the clouds or the stars- the sky is the limit!

Written by Joanne Michael

Joanne Michael

Joanne Michael is a K-5 Science Specialist for Manhattan Beach Unified, former CSTA Upper Elementary director, and is a current CSTA member.

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STEM Conference Hosted by CMSESMC

Posted: Saturday, January 14th, 2017

The Council of Math/Science Educators of San Mateo County will be hosting the 41st annual STEM Conference this February 4, 2017 at the San Mateo County Office of Education. This STEM Conference is the place to get lots of new lessons and ideas to use in your classroom. There will be over twenty-five workshops and a variety of exhibitors that provide participants with a wide range of practical and realistic ideas and resources to use in their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs from Pre-K to grade 12. With California’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, we are dedicated to ensuring that we prepare our teachers to take on these educational policies.

Teachers, administrators, and parents are invited to explore the many exciting aspects of STEM education and learn about and discuss the latest news, information, and issues. This is also an opportunity to network with colleagues who can assist you in building your programs and meet new friends that share your interests and love of teaching. Register online today!

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.

Submit Your NGSS Lessons and Units Today!

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

Achieve has launched and is facilitating an EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science–a group of expert reviewers who will evaluate the quality and alignment of lessons and units to the standards–in an effort to identify and shine a spotlight on emerging high-quality lesson and unit plans designed for the NGSS.

If you or your state, district, school, or organization has designed NGSS-aligned instructional materials, please consider submitting these in order to help provide educators across the country with various models and templates of high-quality lesson and unit plans. 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.

Opportunity for High School Students – Los Angeles County

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

An upcoming Perry Outreach Program on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles, CA. The Perry Outreach Program is a free, one-day, hands-on experience for high school and college-aged women who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine and engineering. Students will hear from women leaders in these fields and try it for themselves by performing mock orthopaedic surgeries and biomechanics experiments. 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.

Science Education Policy Update

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

January 2017 has proven to be a very busy month for science education policy and CA NGSS implementation activities. CSTA has been and will be there every step of the way, seeking and enacting all options to support high-quality science education and the successful implementation of CA NGSS.

California Department of Education/U.S. Department of Education Science Double-Testing Waiver Hearing

The year started with California Department of Education’s (CDE) hearing with the U.S. Department of Education conducted via WebEx on January 6, 2017. This hearing was the final step in California’s efforts to secure a waiver from the federal government in order to discontinue administration of the old CST and suspension of the reporting of student test scores on a science assessment for two years. As reported by EdSource, the U.S. Department of Education representative, Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary John King Jr., committed to making her final ruling “very shortly.” Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley presented on behalf of CDE during the hearing and did an excellent job describing the broad-based support for this waiver in California, the rationale for the waiver, and California’s commitment to the successful implementation of a new high-quality science assessment. As previously reported, California is moving forward with its plans to administer a census pilot assessments this spring. The testing window is set to open on March 20, 2017. For more information visit New CA Science Test: What You Should Know.

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

NSTA Los Angeles Conference Features Many CA Science Leaders

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

The early-bird registration rates for the 65th NSTA National Conference on Science Education in Los Angeles is just days away (ends Feb. 3). And as the early-registration deadline approaches excitement is building for what is anticipated to be the largest gathering of science educators (both California and nationwide) – with attendance expected to reach 10,000 or more. If you have never had the pleasure of attending the NSTA National Conference, I recommend you visit their website with tips for newcomers that describe the various components of the event. A conference preview is also available for download. Learn More…

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.