May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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 past-president of CSTA. She serves as chair of CSTA’s Nominating Committee and is a co-chair of the NGSS Committee.

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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Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here:

Please contact Rosanne Luu at or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

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.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). 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.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. 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.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. Learn More…

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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 NGSS 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.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. 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.