September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

My Last Words . . . Thank You!

Posted: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

by Laura Henriques

This is my last column as your CSTA President. I thank you for the trust you placed in me to serve as President. It has been my privilege to serve the organization. I am most appreciative of the members who have taken steps to get more involved in promoting high quality science education in California.

Just two years ago, when I was taking over as President I challenged you to become more engaged and involved. This has been a rallying call of mine since I joined the Board of Directors. There are big changes happening to science education in California and we need lots of people involved if we hope to realize the promise of those changes. The CSTA Board of Directors does a great deal but they cannot do everything. As an organization, however, we can make a huge difference! In August 2013, in one of my first columns as President, I urged you to consider baby steps towards leadership. I revisited that theme again by encouraging you to see what you could do for CSTA and how to “lean in” and lead by example. Many of you accepted the challenge – thanks! Those of you who know me (or who have read my columns) know this is an important theme for me. A full twenty percent of my CCS columns were devoted to the topic, I talk about it in leadership forums, and I have been known to twist a few arms to get colleagues engaged.

Now as my term comes to an end, I want to thank you, our members for your extraordinary efforts, and give one last call for you to join our work.

CSTA Committee Members
There are several CSTA committees which oversee the work of the organization. Board members are required to serve on at least one committee. Our efforts are greatly enhanced by the CSTA members who work alongside us. The members below were appointed by the Board of Directors to serve on different committees for the 2014-2015 year. They helped with editing articles, providing input on membership matters, giving input to legislative oversight concerns, and reading/reviewing/editing and giving input to the multiple drafts of the Science Curriculum Framework. On behalf of all our membership, thank you for your contributions!

Beverly Berekian
Carol Cao
Ashley Carter
Jim Clark
Elizabeth Cooke
Bethany Dixon
Mary Elizabeth
Shay Fairchild
Dean Gilbert
LaDonna Guzman
Kurt Holland
Mary Koga
Lisa Marroquin
Hope Oliver
Rodney Olson
Katrina Rotter
Katherine (Katie) Schenkelberg
Gini (Virginia) Oberholzer Vandergon
Heather Wygant

California Science Curriculum Framework Criteria and Evaluation Commission (CFCC)
After six months, 12 days in Sacramento, and more than 3,000 pages of reading, the CFCC had its final meeting on May 20-21. CSTA is appreciative of the time, thoughtfulness, and dedication. The 20 member committee was ably guided by CDE’s Tom Adams, Kristen Cruz Allen and Bryan Boyd. Maria Simani and Kirk Brown oversaw the writing process with authors coming from California Science Project staff and other stakeholders. Stay tuned for opportunities to provide public input during the two 60-day review periods.

Members of the CFCC, CDE Staff, Framework Writers, and State Board of Education members on the last day of the CFCC meetings on May 22, 2015. The group members are wearing t-shirts that were made by one of the members to commemorate their experience.  Photo by Laura Henriques.

Members of the CFCC, CDE Staff, Framework Writers, and State Board of Education members on the last day of the CFCC meetings on May 22, 2015.
The group members are wearing t-shirts that were made by one of the members to commemorate their experience.
Photo by Laura Henriques.

CFCC Members:
Maria Blue, Saugus Union School District
Juanita Chan, Rialto Unified School District
Tina Cheuk, Stanford University
Caleb Cheung, Oakland Unified School District
Teresa De Diego, Forbis Los Angeles Unified School District
Anna Gaiter, Plainview Academic Charter Academy
John Galisky, Lompoc Unified School District
Susan Gomez Zwiep, CSU Long Beach
Nicole Hawke, Coachella Valley Unified School District

Clockwise from bottom left: CSTA Board Members Susan Zwiep, Jeanine Wulfenstein, Lisa Hegdahl, and Laura Henriques outside the California Department of Education in Sacramento, CA.

Clockwise from bottom left: CSTA Board Members Susan Zwiep, Jeanine Wulfenstein, Lisa Hegdahl, and Laura Henriques outside the California Department of Education in Sacramento, CA.

Lisa Hegdahl, Galt Elementary School District
Tatiana Lim-Breitbart, Aspire Public Schools
Shawna Metcalf, Glendale Unified School District
Laura O’Dell, El Rancho Unified School District
Stefanie Pechan, Pacific Grove Unified School District
Anthony Quan, Los Angeles County Office of Education
Helen Quinn, Retired, Stanford University
Robert Sherriff, San Juan Unified School District
Jo Topps, WestEd/K-12 Alliance
David Tupper, Lakeside Union School District
Jeanine Wulfenstein, Temecula Valley Unified School District

NGSS Statewide Rollout Symposium II

CSTA partnered with California Science Project, WestEd/K-12 Alliance, County Offices of Education, California Department of Education and ACSA to write and present two days’ worth of professional learning around NGSS. This year’s writing and presenting teams include the following CSTA members:

Sarah Aguiñaga
Gretchen Bazela
Katie Beck
Beverly Berekian
Linda Braatz-Brown
Chris Breazeale
Kirk Brown
David Budai
Joseph Calmer
Sue Campbell
Karen Cerwin
Juanita Chan
Kathy DiRanna
Clay Elliott
Shay Fairchild
Michelle French
Roberto Garcia
Dean Gilbert
Lissa Gilmore
Jill Grace
Lisa Hedgahl
Doug Henderson
Laura Henriques
Kurt Holland
Phil Hudec
Nathan Inouye
Jennifer Janzen
Mary Koga
Phil LaFontaine
Melissa Marcucci
Shawna Metcalf
Melody McGill
Marian Murphy Shaw
Dawn O’Connor
Jeff Orlinsky
Myra Pasquier
Anthony Quan
Phil Romig
Terry Shanahan
Jody Sherriff
Robert Sherriff
Henry Shimojyo
Yami Shimojyo
Maria Simani
John Spiegel
Bret States
Holly Steele
Sean Timmons
Jo Topps
Joanna Totino
Colleen Whitlock
Sandra Yellenberg

eccs_headerCalifornia Classroom Science (CCS) is our monthly newsletter. This past year we had record numbers of articles submitted by our members. Thank you for sharing your expertise with us. Your contributions make CCS better!

Won’t you consider submitting an article? You’ve got some time this summer – think about writing something to share with your colleagues. We accept article submissions throughout the year but I urge you to write something this summer while you have some time. Look at author guidelines and upcoming themes.

As I pass the gavel to our new President, Lisa Hegdahl, I invite you to stay involved and engaged. When Lisa puts out the call for volunteers, or asks you to participate in the work of CSTA, please give her the same courtesy you’ve given me. Jump in and join us. Not only does the organization benefit, but you grow as well.

I have enjoyed working with our outstanding Board of Directors, the fantastic staff of Jessica Sawko, Connie Morrill and Gretel MacLeod and you – our members. It has been a privilege and honor to serve you.

One final note of appreciation goes to my husband, Al Colburn – the First Man of CSTA these past two years. His patience, tolerance, and support for all things CSTA has been a gift to me and to CSTA.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and a past-president of CSTA.

4 Responses

  1. Thank you for your service to CSTA and contributions to California’s science literacy. You will still be making contributions as past-president in helping the transition in leadership and providing an experienced voice to the board.

    I retired from teaching in 2007 just a couple of years after completing my commitments for CSTA and although I am having a wonderful retirement, I do miss the CSTA involvement. I do take comfort in knowing that my involvement in CSTA’s re-restructuring in the ’90’s insured that there would be a continued succession to leadership. Like other presidents in the past you will be able to continue contributing your skills. Good luck in the future.

  2. Thank you for your exemplary leadership!

  3. Laura, thank you for your hard work and dedication. CSTA is an amazing organization because of people like you!

  4. Laura, Thanks for guiding CSTA through these exciting and challenging times. Science education is changing and you have guided the start of that journey. Enjoy your “Past-Presidency” there is still a lot to do and the continuity of leadership you provide will be invaluable to our incoming President, Lisa Hegdahl.

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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.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw


This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.