September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

New, Remarkable, Grade 5-12 STEM Education Program Opportunity for School District and School Communities

Posted: Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Announcing the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Fourth Flight
Opportunity – SSEP Mission 2 to the International Space Station (ISS).

The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education http://ncesse.org),
in partnership with NanoRacks (http://nanoracks.com) invites communities across the U.S. to participate in SSEP Mission 2 to ISS.

Each participating community will be provided all launch services to fly a real
microgravity research mini-laboratory on ISS from September 28 to November 12, 2012, and a kit for assembly of their mini-lab. An 8-week  experiment design competition in the community, held Spring 2012, will allow grade 5-12 student teams to design real microgravity experiments vying for their community’s reserved mini-lab slot on ISS.

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SSEP immerses a community of students in real scientific research of their own
design (grade level appropriate), using a highly captivating spaceflight opportunity on ISS – America’s newest National Laboratory – which will garner the community significant media attention.

SSEP is a true STEM education program. It addresses a wide range of biological
and physical science disciplines (thus appropriate for all teachers of science),
including: seed germination, crystal growth, physiology of microorganisms and life cycles (e.g. bacteria), cell biology and growth, food studies, and studies
of micro-aquatic life. Students design experiments to the technology and engineering constraints imposed by a real research mini-lab and flight operations to and from Earth orbit.

HERITAGE:
Through the first two SSEP announcements of opportunity on the final flights of
Space Shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis (STS-134 and STS-135), 27 communities
joined the program, providing a combined 30,700 grade 5-14 students in 101
schools the opportunity to design and propose real spaceflight experiments;
1,027 student team proposals were received; and 27 experiments were selected and flown on the Shuttles – one for each participating community.

For SSEP Mission 1 to ISS, the third flight opportunity, 12 communities are providing 41,200 students, across 92 schools, the opportunity to design and propose experiments. Mission 1 is currently ongoing.

SOME SSEP BASICS:
1. Typically a minimum of 300 grade 5-12 students across a community engage in experiment design. The school district is free to determine the participating
grade levels. SSEP is not designed for a single class or a small number of
students.

2. Implementation is straightforward and well defined; all needed curricular
materials are fully developed; and we provide ongoing, proactive support for
your educator implementation team.

3. Well designed content resources for teachers and students support
foundational instruction on science in microgravity and experimental design.

4. SSEP is flexible enough to be tailored to your community’s strategic needs in
STEM education.

5. A suite of SSEP program elements – the Community Program – leverages the
flight experiment design competition to engage the entire community, embracing a Learning Community Model for STEM education. Elements include flying up to 2 Mission Patches resulting from an art and design competition across your community, and a SSEP Community Blog for each community.

6. Students can take part in their own research conference where they can report on experiment design and results. The conference is held in Washington, DC, in early July, and likely at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, the site of the 2011 conference.

SSEP is about a commitment: to the joys of learning; to student ownership in
exploration through immersive and REAL science experiences; to science as
journey; to rich experiences for teachers in real science; and to science as an
interdisciplinary tapestry that extends to vital written and oral  communication skills.

CRITICAL DEADLINE: all participating communities must be aboard by February 27, 2012, and to do that we need to start working with interested communities right away.

NEXT STEPS – WE ARE ON A FAST TRACK:
1. CAREFULLY review the National Announcement of Opportunity which includes links to all aspects of the program.

2. Contact us at ssep@ncesse.org or call at: 301-395-0770

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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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

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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

Cal

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.