September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Meet Your New Board Members

Posted: Monday, August 1st, 2011

The CSTA board of directors is pleased to announce the winners of the 2011-2013 CSTA elections. Returning to the board in their previous capacities are Marian Murphy-Shaw, secretary, Dean Gilbert, region 3 director, Michelle French, primary director, and Valerie Joyner, region 1 director. New to the board are Lisa Hegdahl, middle school/junior high director and Grahme Smith, informal science director. CSTA welcomes Laura Henriques back to the board in her new position, president-elect.

New CSTA Board Members

Laura Henriques is a professor and chair in the science education department at California State University, Long Beach.  She teaches classes for prospective K-12 science teachers and graduate students earning their Master’s in science education.  Laura has served on numerous CSTA committees, including several conference planning committees, and served on the CSTA board as 4-year college director from 2004-2008.

Lisa Hegdahl is an eighth grade science teacher in the Galt Unified School District.  In her 20 years as a middle school teacher, she has also taught eighth grade math and language arts intervention classes which she integrates into her science curriculum.  She works with students outside of the classroom as an advisor for Club Live and Science Olympiad and with new teachers as a BTSA support provider.  Lisa served on the CSTA conference committee in 2010 and 2011 and will chair the 2012 conference.

Grahme Smith is manager of the Teacher Institute on Science and Sustainability at the California Academy of Sciences.  He serves as content advisor for the development of Academy exhibits where he ensures that the exhibits address the California science content standards.  Grahme developed a classroom kit that brings the resources of the Academy into classrooms.  He has presented workshops at the California Science Education Conference on several occasions.

Outgoing CSTA Board Members

CSTA bids a fond farewell to three board members who served tirelessly during their time on the board of directors. During the June 4, 2011 meeting of the board of directors, Sue Pritchard (CSTA president 2007 – 2009) remembered Ruby Flood who brought her to the CSTA board and acknowledged the value CSTA has provided to her and her colleagues. She encouraged others to keep contributing to CSTA and other youth and education organizations. Jeff Bradbury recalled the initial feeling he had when seeing the board of directors on stage while attending his first California Science Education Conference and the gulf he felt then between him and them, he now understands is not so huge – sharing that sense of connection with  the members is a feeling he wishes every member could have – he reminded members that they are not so removed from being leaders themselves. He gave sincere thanks to Tim for his leadership and positive outlook through two tough years. Via e-mail, Meg Burke regretted that she was not able to attend the June meeting, but thanked the board and Tim for a great experience.

The CSTA board of directors welcomes your comments and contributions. Please feel free to post a comment below or send them an e-mail at



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.