May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Pasadena…Home of Science and Engineering in Southern California

Posted: Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

. . . and the 2011 California Science Education Conference

The beautiful city of Pasadena will host the 20th annual California Science Education Conference.  CSTA invites you to this charming Southern California “city that feels like a village.”  Not only does Pasadena offer excellent convention facilities, hotels, and restaurants, it is also home to institutions that are recognized worldwide for the important contributions they have made to science and technology since the early 20th century.

Some of the biggest advances in astronomy, medicine, geology, and space exploration have occurred here, making it a great location in which to host the 2011 California Science Education Conference.

Pasadena’s reputation as a major center for science continues to attract great minds eager to make the next big discovery.  Pasadena is the home of many venerable science and engineering institutions, including Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and California Institute of Technology (Caltech).  Below are a few fun facts about these institutions:


Caltech is one of the finest academic and research institutions in the world. Modern earthquake science was born here in the 1920s and 1930s with the invention of a sensitive seismograph to record earthquakes and the development of the Richter Scale to measure them.  The principles of modern aviation and jet flight grew out of work carried on at Caltech by Theodore von Karman.  During the 1930s, von Karman and his students developed the principles of airplane design and flight that helped get the aircraft industry off the ground.

Caltech is known as the center of the universe for astronomers because of its major contributions to the field.  In 1948, Caltech completed the first survey of the entire sky visible from the northern hemisphere, a survey that created an atlas of the heavens that  astronomers the world over used for the next three decades.

Psychobiologist Roger Sperry determined that the left hemisphere of the brain and the right hemisphere of the brain are specialized for different capacities here in 1981.  Caltech receives more invention disclosures per faculty member than any other university in the nation.  The university has received over 1,800 U.S. patents since 1980.


In the mid-1930s, off-campus experiments by several of Theodore von Karman’s Caltech students led to the establishment in 1943 of the world famous Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).  Today JPL is the nerve center of America’s robotic space program.

Though a part of NASA, JPL is still managed by Caltech.  In the early 1940s, JPL developed the United States’ first rockets and guided missiles.  In 1958, JPL helped create and launch Explorer I, the first U.S. satellite.  This started the “space race” with the Soviet Union.  That year JPL joined space exploration as part of the newly formed NASA.  In the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, JPL launched the Pioneer, Mariner, Voyager, Magellan, and Galileo missions to explore the solar system.  In July 1997, the Mars Pathfinder and its Sojourner rover captivated the world with its spectacular images of the Martian surface.  Currently JPL has 20 spacecraft and nine instruments conducting active missions.

What better place to host a conference that brings together in one location the who’s who of science education in California?  Start making your plans to participate today.  Registration for the 2011 conference will open in June.

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.

2 Responses

  1. When will the Conference take place?

  2. Dear John,
    The conference will take place October 21 – 23, 2011 at the Pasadena Convention Center.

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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. 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 California NGSS k-8 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy:

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.