September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

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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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.