NGSS: What’s Next?
Posted: Friday, February 1st, 2013
by Rick Pomeroy and Laura Henriques
What happens next? The second and final public review of the draft Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is now closed but we don’t yet have a new set of science standards for California. Although we have ELA Common Core Standards with specific expectations for reading and writing in science and we have Common Core Standards for Mathematics that call for modeling and the application of math practices to real world problems, we are still waiting for standards that are science-specific. In this article, we will attempt to outline the next steps in the development process for California science standards.
The feedback period for the second public draft ended on January 29 and the results are being reviewed by the writing team at Achieve, Inc. for further revisions and refinements. Once those are made, Achieve, Inc. is scheduled to release the final version of the NGSS in March 2013. It’s important to realize that the NGSS are the result of a large collaboration between states and once finalized, individual states are encouraged to adopt them in whole. We hope that you had an opportunity to review the draft and provide your feedback to Achieve. CSTA would like to hear directly from you regarding your thoughts on the standards. Please take a moment to complete a short, 13 question survey to help guide CSTA in representing your voice at the state level in response to the second draft.
Based on legislation passed in 2011 (Senate Bill 300) and revised in October 2012 (Senate Bill 1200), State Superintendent of Public Instruction, (SSPI) Tom Torlakson, must propose new science standards to the State Board of Education (SBE) by July 2013. Although the bill stipulates that these new standards must be based on the NGSS there is no language requiring that the proposed standards be the NGSS. Prior to making his proposal, the SSPI must hold at least two public hearings for input. Once proposed, the State Board of Education (SBE) has until November 2013 to accept the SSPI’s recommendation, accept it with revisions, or deny it. The SBE’s November 2013 decision is just the “next” beginning of this long and winding road. (Click for a complete timeline of the California science standards development and adoption timeline.)
Once California adopts new science standards, the real work of setting the stage for implementation begins. Standards by themselves are not sufficient for defining science instruction in California. As you are reading this article, CSTA is working in conjunction with the California Department of Education to enact legislation that will restart the curriculum framework (framework) development process*. It is the framework that will serve as the guide to the development of instructional materials, assessments, and ultimately site-based curriculum. It would be great if that process were already in place but realistically, it takes about 18 months to complete a new framework meaning that the earliest it would be available is sometime in 2015. As you can imagine, that means the development of instructional materials (currently a 30 month process from start to finish) and assessments will be later than this.
In the meantime, there will be plenty of opportunities to participate and CSTA is busy trying to determine how best to support the science education community throughout this process. There will be public review meetings throughout the state, the State Board of Education is required to have public hearings related to the adoption of new standards (these will be sometime between the March and July), and there will be all sorts of review hearings associated with the new framework. While not all of you will be involved in advocating in Sacramento or working on writing teams for the new framework, all of us should be actively involved in learning what the new standards mean for us as practitioners. CSTA will be there through the entire process as long as we have the support of our members. Please be sure to maintain your CSTA membership or join. Membership will insure that you have access to the latest information and ways to be involved in the upcoming conversations around assessment, curriculum, and final standards development.
Whether you teach in a preK-12 classroom, an informal institution, or teach prospective teachers, you will be impacted by the new standards California adopts. Availing ourselves of good professional development related to the standards is going to be critical. We will need to work with our on-site and regional colleagues to have a better sense of how to effectively teach to meet our new California standards. Having participated in several group review sessions related to NGSS, we know that it is much easier to make sense of the standards and think about instruction when you do it with peers. With this in mind, please plan to attend the October 2013 CSTA California Science Education Conference in Palm Springs. By then we should have a pretty good sense of what direction the state will be moving. During the months and year following the conference, CSTA will be working with others around the state to provide you with the professional development you need.
We encourage you to be informed and involved. We thank all of you who participated in reviewing the first or second drafts of NGSS and we thank you in advance for the work you have not yet done – commenting on the standards and framework, attending SBE hearings and voicing your opinions, participating on framework writing teams, and attending conferences and workshops to improve your practice. These are exciting times to be a science teacher in California and we thank you for your efforts to move us in a new direction.
*The curriculum framework development process is currently under legislative suspension until the 2015-2016 school year. Steps are being taken in an effort to lift this suspension prior to 2015-2016. CSTA will keep readers and members posted as progress on this front develops.
Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California, Davis and is CSTA’s president.
Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and president-elect of CSTA.
Posted: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015
by Jessica Sawko
Friday, February 27, 2015 was the last day for legislators to introduce bills. As with many things with a deadline, the last days leading up to the deadline saw a flurry of activity and many bills were introduced. CSTA will be monitoring many pieces of legislation this year and will seek to have funding for NGSS implementation included in next year’s budget. Bills of note include:
AB 631 (Bonilla): Titled the “Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards Implementation Fund Act” the bill seeks to establish a specific fund within the state budget to fund integration of common core academic content standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and English language development standards in schools. Specifically, the bill calls out funding for the professional development of teachers, administrators, and paraprofessional educators or other classified employees involved in the direct instruction of pupils that is aligned to those standards, instructional materials to support instruction under the new standards, and integration of the new standards “through technology-based instruction for purposes of improving the academic performance of pupils.” As currently written, the bill proposes $900 million in funding for 2015/2016 (which could be used in 2015/2016 or 2016/2017) plus the $1.1 billion in funding included in the Governor’s January budget proposal (which is funding that is actually to pay off unpaid mandate claims with the “intention” that the funds be used to support new standards implementation). Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015
by Karen Yanowitz, Ann Ross, Tanja McKay, and Renee Carroll
Guess who’s back again? After last year’s successful summer institute was made possible by a four-year, 1.04 million dollar grant funded by the National Science Foundation (courtesy of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers – ITEST – program), we are thrilled to announce that the CSI : Classroom Student Investigations program once again hosted its third institute at Arkansas State University. The CSI Grant focuses on rural high-needs school districts, and its goal is to provide teachers with valuable skills and resources they can use to implement inquiry-based forensic science instruction in their classrooms.
Principle Investigator Karen Yanowitz, Co-Principle Investigators Ann Ross and Tanja McKay, Program Manager Renee Carroll, and ASU faculty organized the CSI Summer Institute, which took place in June 2014. Twenty teachers, grades 7-10, and 67 students, grades 7-12, participated in the Institute. During the first week, teachers were presented with, “The Case of the Bungled Burglary.” Using real life forensic science techniques demonstrated by grant senior personnel and both CSI Co-PIs, teachers learned how to utilize crime-solving techniques including robotics, soil analysis, microbiology, forensic entomology, DNA blood typing, and trace evidence. During the second week of the institute, teachers designed their own lesson plans based on what they learned the first week, then used their lesson plans to teach students how to use the same crime solving techniques.
This year’s CSI institute will be held June 15 – 26, 2015 for teachers and June 24-25, 2015 for students. To apply, visit our webpage , where you will find both our student and teacher applications. The application deadline for both students and teachers is April 15, 2015. Late applications will be accepted on a space-available basis. We look forward to seeing you at the CSI institute in June!
Posted: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015
by Jill Grace
One of our goals here at CSTA is to be a supportive resource to science educators statewide. In this new environment of NGSS, many teachers now find themselves shifting job positions and are working as science coaches. This job shift is a new frontier for many and we felt there was a need to have a forum where conversations can happen and best practices can be shared. With that in mind, we decided to add to our list of Facebook groups and created California Science District Coaches.
If you are a district science support provider, teacher leader, teacher coach, TOSA, or TSA – we invite you to request to join the group. Once you do we will follow up by sending you a Facebook message (an effort to avoid spammers and individuals that might commercialize the page). Be sure to check “other” in your Facebook messages and reply to get permission to join the group.
Our page moderators will regularly post information that is relevant to you and members of the group can also share resources, ask questions, and find a supportive network. Join us!
Posted: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015
by Josh Rosenau
“We’re leveraging evolution,” Solazyme CEO Jonathan Wolfson told reporter Mike Grunwald, author of The New New Deal (2012). “We take what the planet is good at making, plant sugars, and turn it into what the planet needs, oils.” The San Francisco-based company’s $200 million market capitalization, its fuel contracts with the US Navy and major airlines, and its growing business producing oils for use in foods and cosmetics all testify to the economic value of leveraging evolution.
Further down the Bay, at NASA Ames, the Advanced Control and Evolvable Systems are using evolution to make better spacecraft. In a NASA webpage about the project, researcher Jason Lohn explains, “We’re taking our cue and inspiration from nature,” allowing antennas and computer chips to evolve in software, creating remarkable new designs. “No human would build an antenna as crazy as this,” he explains. But then again, no human could build an antenna that worked as efficiently.
NASA’s engineers are not the only ones who rely on evolution. The space agency’s Exobiology Discipline Working Group, struggling to devise a way to define life (whatever world we might find it on), settled on a working definition: “life is a self-sustaining system capable of Darwinian evolution.” The definition is often attributed to Gerald Joyce, a researcher at Scripps Research Institute whose work in San Diego is leading us ever closer to understanding how Earth’s first life came to be.
Indeed, evolution has been key to the California economy for over a century. Finding and selecting crop breeds that could thrive in California turned the state into the breadbasket of the world. “What a joy life is when you have made a close working partnership with Nature,” explained Luther Burbank, the Santa Rosa-based “Wizard of Horticulture.” Burbank, who developed over 1000 plant varieties at his Santa Rosa research center celebrated his work “helping [Nature] to produce for the benefit of mankind new forms, colors, and perfumes in flowers which were never known before; fruits in form, size, and flavor never before seen on this globe; and grains of enormously increased productiveness, whose fat kernels are filled with more and better nourishment, a veritable storehouse of perfect food—new food for all the world’s untold millions for all time to come.”
Inspired by reading Charles Darwin, Luther Burbank was an ardent advocate for evolution and evolution education. In the era of the Scopes trial (and decrees by the California state superintendent of instruction that evolution might be taught only as a theory, not as fact), he joined with Stanford Chancellor David Starr Jordan and a host of other luminaries to support a new advocacy group known as the Science League of America. A speech on behalf of the League and its defense of evolution education was among the last delivered by the man whose birthday was chosen for California’s Arbor Day.
Operated from writer Maynard Shipley’s home in Sausalito, the League battled efforts to force creationism into classrooms, or to ban the teaching of evolution. Burbank, Jordan, and the congressmen, clergy, doctors, scientists, and teachers who joined the effort all feared the harm that might follow from these attacks on science education.
Ninety years later, that battle continues. From an elementary teacher in Berkeley who told children that evolution, like Santa Claus, is a myth, to school boards attempting to introduce creationist lessons, California remains an active battleground when it comes to evolution. And while the Science League of America no longer exists, we at the National Center for Science Education do remarkably similar work.
We achieved our greatest fame in 2005, for our help with the legal battle in Dover, PA. That case resulted in a ruling that “intelligent design,” like all other forms of creationism, cannot be taught as science. The lawyers who won the case relied on NCSE’s archives and our deep knowledge of the scientific, pedagogical, theological, and legal issues surrounding creationism.
But most of what we deal with doesn’t involve lawyers or press conferences. Most conflicts over the teaching of evolution can be resolved collaborative. A teacher calls asking for help with antiscience administrators or parents, or a parent writes wondering what to do about an assignment which seems to call settled science into doubt. We help them navigate the bureaucracy, give them resources explaining what is and isn’t allowed, and share our experience with successful paths to defusing the conflict.
NCSE is in our 4th decade, and the organized creationist attack on evolution is nearing its century mark. These battles aren’t likely to end soon, even as evolution-related topics from synthetic biology to personal genomics become more central to society. And so long as science teachers and science education are at risk, we at NCSE will be ready to help.
Josh Rosenau is a programs and policy director at the National Center for Science Education. He was invited to write for CCS by CSTA member Minda Berbeco.
Posted: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015
by Robert Victor with twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller
Links to evening and morning twilight sky maps for use in southern California in March 2015 appear below. Links to related activities on the changing visibility of stars and planets, a selection of sky maps for northern California (exact for lat. 40° N), and a preview of Comet Halley’s next appearance in 2061, are now available at www.abramsplanetarium.org/msta/
March 2015 at dusk. At dusk in early March 2015, the four brightest “stars”, in order of brilliance, are: Venus in west; Jupiter, in eastern sky; Sirius, the “Dog Star”, 40 degrees up in south as seen from the Coachella Valley, and Canopus, less than 4 degrees up when it passes due south about 21 minutes before Sirius does. Sounds of nature enrich the stargazing experience. In Palm Springs, we’ve been hearing frogs in nearby Tahquitz Creek on warmer nights since December.
Canopus passes directly overhead for observers near latitude 53° south, within 14° N of the Antarctic Circle, so you’d have to go all the way to southern Argentina or Chile to stand on terra firma directly beneath the star. From the Coachella Valley, you must choose your site carefully, or mountains might block your view. From my abode in Palm Springs, I see Canopus blink off when it goes behind a mountainside several minutes before it reaches its high point.
From Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs, Canopus passes due south only 4° up in a dark sky at 7:32 p.m. PST on March 1, and then four minutes earlier each day, to 7:08 p.m. on March 7, and suddenly to 8:04 p.m. PDT on Sunday, March 8, an hour later than you might expect, until you recall that you’ve just reset your clock to daylight saving time. (Your friends elsewhere in southern California should add 4 minutes to these times for every degree their longitude is west of 116.5°, or subtract if east.) By March 11 or 12 the star reaches its high point only about an hour after sunset. Within a few days more, as the star’s “transit time” backs closer to the time of sunset, the sky will become too bright to catch Canopus at its high point.
Other features of the early evening: A telescope reveals Venus now in gibbous phase, and up to four of Jupiter’s moons discovered by Galileo in 1610. Venus and Jupiter, closing from 123° apart on March 1, to 85° apart on the 31st, will have a spectacular pairing on June 30. Mars, now on the far side of its orbit, doesn’t reveal much telescopically, but it’s visible to naked eye and binoculars, sinking lower in twilight 4° to 17° below Venus.
Orion’s 3-star belt (not bright enough to be shown on our twilight chart) lies midway between red Betelgeuse and blue Rigel. The belt points the way leftward toward Sirius, and the opposite way toward Aldebaran, eye of Taurus, the Bull, and beyond to the Pleiades or “Seven Sisters” star cluster (also not plotted, but beautiful in binoculars). The huge “Winter Hexagon”, in counterclockwise order Sirius-Rigel-Aldebaran-Capella-Pollux-(Castor, not shown)-Procyon and back to Sirius, with Betelgeuse inside, contains 7 of the 21 stellar objects of first magnitude or brighter (16 stars and 5 planets) ever visible from southern California. Their constellations include a bull backing away from a charging hunter and his two canine followers, a pair of twins, and a chariot driver with mother goat and three kids on his shoulder.
Following this menagerie is bright Jupiter, itself followed by Leo, the Lion, with the star Regulus marking his heart. Perhaps the Lion is chasing his dinner across the sky? Quite a menu!
By March’s end, Arcturus, the “Bear Guardian” star, pops up above the ENE horizon before mid-twilight. Use this memory aid: “Follow the arc (curve of the bear’s tail or handle of the Big Dipper) to Arcturus.”
March Moon Madness
The Moon can be easily spotted daily at evening mid-twilight (about 40 minutes after sunset) March 1-5 and March 21-April 4.
At dusk on Monday, March 2, the fat gibbous Moon is well up in the eastern sky, 5°-6° north (upper left) of Jupiter. Now through July, the Moon will pass Jupiter in the evening sky every 27 or 28 days. The interval is shorter than the Moon’s cycle of phases, 29.5 days, so each time it overtakes Jupiter, the Moon will appear progressively less full.
On March 4, the nearly Full Moon will rise 35-40 minutes before sunset, and on March 5, the Moon, just past Full, rises shortly after sunset. In the following days, moonrise occurs nearly an hour later each night, making it more convenient to switch your moon-watching time to predawn.
The brightest objects in morning twilight, in order of brilliance, are: Arcturus high in WSW to W; Vega high in NE; early in month, Mercury low in ESE, closely matches or slightly outshines Arcturus, but it sinks into bright twilight after midmonth as it approaches the far side of the Sun. Saturn, steady in S to SW, is next in brightness in the morning sky.
Look earlier than map time, at least an hour before sunrise, and you’ll find the Big Dipper in NW. Follow its curved handle to Arcturus, and then to Spica. Tip: “Follow the arc to Arcturus and drive a spike to Spica.”
Near Vega are Altair to its lower right and Deneb to its lower left, completing the Summer Triangle.
Compare steady Saturn to reddish twinkling reddish Antares, heart of the Scorpion, 8°-9° to the planet’s lower left.
A telescope reveals the rings of Saturn, now tipped more than 24 degrees from edge-on!
As the sky brightens, listen for the sounds of birds. Is the soundscape the same from week to week as spring progresses?
In morning twilight on Thursday, March 5, the Full Moon is low in the west, with Regulus setting 4°-5° to its lower right. On March 8 and 9, the waning gibbous Moon appears in SW near Spica. On Thursday, March 12, Saturn appears within 3° lower right of the Moon in S, while the reddish twinkling star Antares appears 8°-9° to their lower left. On Friday, Mar. 13, the Moon is close to half full and essentially at Last Quarter phase, 90° or one quarter-circle west of the Sun and 14°-16° left (east) of Antares and Saturn. The last easy morning view of the waning Moon will come on Wed. Mar. 18, when it’s very low in E to ESE in morning twilight. [The invisible] New Moon on Fri. Mar. 20 at 2:36 a.m. PDT produces a total solar eclipse in the Arctic.
Moon returns to evening: On Sat. Mar. 21 at dusk, the 1.7-day-old waxing crescent will be very easy to spot. Mars will be 2° to its lower right. For a few more evenings, look for beautiful earthshine, from sunlight reflected by Earth onto the Moon’s dark (non-sunlit) side. Watch the crescent thicken daily as it moves farther from the Sun on each successive evening. It is 4° upper left of Venus on the next evening, Sun. Mar. 22, and passes widely south of the Pleiades star cluster at nightfall on March 23. The Moon appears within the “V” of the Hyades cluster and 3° lower right Aldebaran on the next evening, Tues. Mar. 24.
The Moon appears inside the Winter Hexagon March 25-27, and has nearly reached First Quarter phase, half full and 90° from the Sun, on the middle one of those three evenings, Thurs. Mar. 26. On Sat. Mar. 28, the Moon is outside the Hexagon, just east of the Procyon to Pollux line, and on Sun. Mar. 29 the Moon appears 6° S of Jupiter. On the last two evenings of March, the Moon is not far from Regulus, heart of Leo the Lion.
A special night: On Friday evening, April 3, the nearly Full Moon rises 4°-5° S of due east about 26 minutes before sunset. About 13 minutes before sunset, Sun and Moon can be viewed simultaneously, in opposite directions, each about 2° above unobstructed horizons. About an hour after sunset, look for Spica 13° below the Moon. A total lunar eclipse will happen early Saturday morning, April 4.
At 3:16 a.m. PDT on Saturday April 4, a partial eclipse begins as the Moon enters the umbra, or dark central core of Earth’s shadow. The Moon will then be in the southwest, with Spica 11° to its left. As minutes pass, the dark circular edge of Earth’s shadow will become apparent. The Moon will pass through the northernmost part of Earth’s dark central shadow, resulting in a brief total lunar eclipse lasting only 5 minutes, from 4:58 a.m. until 5:03 a.m. PDT. At deepest eclipse at 5:00 a.m., Palm Springs will see the Moon 18° up in WSW, with Spica 10° to its upper left.
The brightness and color of the Moon during a total eclipse varies widely from one eclipse to another, depending on atmospheric conditions over places on Earth where Sun is rising or setting at time of eclipse. Sunlight must pass through these zones in order to reach Moon during total eclipse, and presence of clouds in lower atmosphere or volcanic aerosols in stratosphere can block much of the sunlight and darken Earth’s shadow. The great volcanic eruptions of 1963, 1982, and 1991 were each followed by exceptionally dark total lunar eclipses. The French astronomer Andre Danjon devised a five-point brightness or luminosity scale to help observers rate darkness and color of a total lunar eclipse. Observe for yourself how the eclipse on morning of April 4 compares to others! Get Danjon’s scale at http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/OH/Danjon.html and then select the rating from the 5-point L (luminosity) scale best matching the darkness and color of the Moon at beginning, middle, and end of totality.
After 5:03 a.m., the Moon slowly withdraws from the Earth’s umbral shadow, until 6:45 a.m., when the partial phase of the eclipse comes to an end. But from the Coachella Valley, the moon sets before the end of the partial eclipse.
Another total lunar eclipse, the fourth and last in a tetrad of total lunar eclipses at 6-month intervals since April 2014, will be seen at a much more convenient hour for students and the general public, beginning at dusk, Sunday, Sept. 27.
For more information on sky events in 2015, see these articles and activities.
(A selection of twilight sky charts for use during months of the best planet gatherings.)
(Scroll down to “Modeling seasonal visibility of stars and visibility of the planets.” Includes planet orbit charts, a data table for plotting planets, and an activity sheet with 15 questions on visibility of stars and planets in 2015-2016.)
Robert D. Miller, who provided the twilight charts, did graduate work in Planetarium Science and later astronomy and computer science at Michigan State University and remains active in research and public outreach in astronomy.