September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Make 2016 a Year of Service – Join the CSTA Board of Directors

Posted: Thursday, January 14th, 2016

by Laura Henriques

As we look forward to 2016 I hope you’ll consider sharing your talents, time, and expertise with your colleagues. There are so many ways you can do that through your involvement with CSTA.

Post great ideas to the various CSTA Facebook Groups – anytime

CSTA has Facebook Groups for elementary, middle school high school and university faculty plus a group for Coaches/District Leaders. Some groups are more active than others, but all of them are venues for sharing exciting teaching ideas, seek input from colleagues, and ask questions about implementing NGSS. We are happy to have you lurk but consider sharing.

Write articles for California Classroom Science – articles due the 1st of the month for the following issue

As a CSTA regular, you know that CCS comes out each month. We try to have a wide range of articles. We update you on policy and NGSS related issues, we share lesson and unit ideas, updates and information from the NGSS Early Implementing Districts, technology tidbits, fieldtrip ideas and more. You have some great things you do in your classroom or informal site. Write for us and share them with the field. Find details about upcoming issues, submission guidelines and deadlines. Submissions are due on the first of the month preceding publication. While the Publishing Committee has selected themes for the year, you are not obligated to write to those themes.

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Submit a proposal to present at the 2016 CSTA Conference – proposals due on March 4

The next California Science Education Conference will be October 21-23, 2016 in Palm Springs. The call for proposals is here. We are looking for 90 minute presentations that will help us all be better prepared to implement NGSS! Check out the call for proposals and see where you can contribute. Lead presenters receive reduced registration rates.

Consider joining one of CSTA’s committee for 2016-2017 – call for nominations in the spring

CSTA is run by and for its members. This means we are a volunteer based organization. Won’t you volunteer to serve on one of our committees? Our work is done virtually (although we do try to meet in person during the conference). Stay tuned to CCS. President Lisa Hegdahl will put out a call for CSTA members to serve on committees later this spring. Click here to see what committees we have and learn about their work. You can always e-mail the committee chairs to find out more details.

Run to serve on the Board of Directors – nominations and resume due February 1

The CSTA Board of Directors are elected by the membership. The Board oversees the work of the organization. Board members participate in quarterly Board meetings (at least two are conducted virtually), serve on committees and are the stewards of the organization. As such they help develop policies and procedures, direct the work of our Executive Director, work to ensure we meet the mission and goals of our organization. An organization’s health is improved by more people’s involvement and new ideas being shared. Please consider applying to be on the Board. Positions are for two years (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2018) with the possibility of being re-elected to the position once.

We are seeking nominations for the following positions for a spring election.

*Region 2: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano counties.
**Region 4: Imperial, Inyo, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego counties.

Nomination forms and resume are due by 5:00 on February 1st. Upon receipt of your nomination form you will be asked for some additional information plus two letters of endorsement from current CSTA members. You may nominate a colleague or you can self-nominate. Please think about all you have to offer (and all you have to gain) by serving on the Board.

Take the next step….

Many of you have already served on committee, written for CCS or presented at our conferences. Think about taking the next step and getting more involved. I can honestly say that what you get back from serving others is greater than the effort you put forth. Ask me or any other members of the Board of Directors how you can become more involved.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and past-president of CSTA. She serves as chair of CSTA’s Nominating Committee and is a co-chair of the NGSS Committee.

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California Science Assessment Update

Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

by Jessica Sawko

In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.

At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at 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.

Some ways to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in your classroom

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

by Carol Peterson

1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. 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.

2016 Award Recipients – Join CSTA in Honoring Their Accomplishments

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference  on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!

Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award

John Keller

John Keller

The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” 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.

NGSS: Making Your Life Easier

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Peter A’hearn

Wait… What?

NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?

The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Celestial Highlights, September 2016

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt 

Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.