January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Preservice Teachers are STARs

Posted: Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Far too many science teachers have a handicap: they have never done scientific research.  They know their subjects, but they have never experienced science as a exciting process, or used the scientific method in practice, or worked with scientists.  They are dedicated teachers, but how can they communicate these things to their students?

Four years ago a Lawrence Livermore Laboratory researcher named Laura Gilliam recognized this problem and obtained an NSF grant to do something about it.  Grant in hand, she contacted the California State University system’s chancellor for advice on coordinating the use of it.  The result was STAR, the Science Teacher and Researcher program.

STAR is a summer research internship for aspiring science and mathematics teachers.  Preservice teachers enrolled in CSU credential programs and CSU undergraduates considering STEM teaching are eligible, as are NSF Noyce Scholars.  Recruits are placed as paid interns in cutting-edge California research facilities (which last year included the Lawrence National Laboratories, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the UC Davis Center for Biophotonics.)  Over eight to 10 weeks, they complete a research project, which is presented to their colleagues at a closing conference and may be included in their mentor’s research.  STAR fellows receive a weekly stipend, transportation to opening and closing conferences, and possibly a housing allowance if they relocate.  They are supported by master teachers and research mentors.  Interns at each site are encouraged to spend time together and form a community.

The STAR program is run out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo as part of its Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education (CESaME).  In 2007, the program’s first year, Gilliam’s NSF grant funded 16 interns.  The next year Cal Poly and the CSU Chancellor’s office obtained funding from the Bechtel Foundation, and for the last three years the program has expanded to 30 interns in 2008, 39 in 2009, and 71 in 2010.  Additional funding comes from the Fluor Corporation and a one-time grant from the NSF Noyce Scholars program that STAR is now seeking to extend.  Based in California, the program now has additional pilot projects in Colorado, Washington, and Maryland.

The STAR program’s effects on its preservice teacher interns are assessed with the Student Understanding of Science and Scientific Inquiry questionnaire, which examines teacher attitudes toward the nature of science, and the Science Teaching Efficacy Beliefs Instrument, which examines teachers’ degree of confidence in their ability to teach science well.  Both instruments consistently show statistically significant improvements in teacher confidence and comprehension of science.  Meeting activities and other program components are assessed by discussion with the interns at the closing confererence, with the following year’s program revised to incorporate findings.

2010 STAR fellows said the program enhanced both their understanding of science and their ability to teach it.  “I have a science degree, but I don’t know that I’d have called myself a scientist before,” said Jessica Potter, whose degree is in plant ecology.

An added benefit: Credibility.  Jamie Vargas spent the summer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory; he has a master of science in physics.  “Because I’ve worked as a scientist, the students ask me questions about getting a science job,” he said.  “And they respect a teacher who’s worked for NASA.”

STAR alumni can return for up to three summers, allowing them to retain ties with mentors and integrate into their science community.  One result can be opportunities for their classes.  After three summers at the NASA Ames Research Center, Ron Hamby, a San Jose middle school science teacher, worked with his STAR mentor to develop a “real-life” science project for his students.  NASA would like to use algae on long space flights to produce oxygen and recycle wastes by photosynthesis.  His eighth-grade classes worked after school to collect data on the effectiveness of different types of algae.  They presented their data to Ames scientists, including Hamby’s mentor, who makes use of it.   They also had a lot of fun.

John Keller, the head of Cal Poly’s CESaME program, would like to see STAR expand to additional states.  He would also like to see programs similar to STAR expand across the country, so that the opportunity need not be limited to CSU students and Noyce scholars.  As he puts it, “Every preservice teacher should have the chance to do research.”

Applications for summer 2011 STAR fellowships are due January 31, 2011.  For more information about STAR, a detailed list of eligibility requirements, and a link to an application, go to: http://www.cesame.calpoly.edu/programs-star.html.

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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California Science Test Academy for Educators

Posted: Thursday, February 15th, 2018

California Science Test Academy for Educators

To support implementation of the California Science Test (CAST), the California Department of Education is partnering with Educational Testing Service and WestEd to offer a one-day CAST Academy for local educational agency (LEA) science educators, to be presented at three locations in California from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. As an alternative to traveling, LEA teams can participate virtually via WebEx on one of the dates listed below.

The dates and locations for the CAST Academy are as follows:

  • Monday, April 23, 2018—Sacramento
  • Wednesday, April 25, 2018—Fresno
  • Thursday, April 26, 2018—Irvine

The CAST Academy will help participants develop a deeper understanding of the assessment design and expectations of the CAST. The academy also will provide information and activities designed to assist educators in their implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards and three-dimensional learning to help them gain an understanding of how these new science assessment item types can inform teaching and learning. The CAST Academy dates above are intended for school and district science instructional leaders, including teacher leaders, teacher trainers, and instructional coaches. Additional trainings will be offered at a later date specifically for county staff. In addition, curriculum, professional development, and assessment leaders would benefit from this training.

A $100 registration fee will be charged for each person attending the in-person training. Each virtual team participating via WebEx will be charged $100 for up to 10 participants through one access point. Each workshop will have the capacity to accommodate a maximum of 50 virtual teams. Each virtual team will need to designate a lead, who is responsible for organizing the group locally. Registration and payment must be completed online at http://www.cvent.com/d/6tqg8k.

For more information regarding the CAST Academy, please contact Elizabeth Dilke, Program Coordinator, Educational Testing Service, by phone at 916-403-2407 or by e‑mail at caasppworkshops@ets.org.

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.

Accelerating into NGSS – A Statewide Rollout Series Now Accepting Registrations

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Are you feeling behind on the implementation of NGSS? Then Accelerating into NGSS – the Statewide Rollout event – is right for you!

If you have not experienced Phases 1-4 of the Statewide Rollout, or are feeling behind with the implementation of NGSS, the Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout will provide you with the greatest hits from Phases 1-4!

Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout is a two-day training geared toward grade K-12 academic coaches, administrators, curriculum leads, and teacher leaders. Check-in for the two-day rollout begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast. Sessions run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Day One and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Day Two.

Cost of training is $250 per attendee. Fee includes all materials, continental breakfast, and lunch on both days. It is recommended that districts send teams of four to six, which include at least one administrator. Payment can be made by check or credit card. If paying by check, registration is NOT complete until payment has been received. All payments must be received prior to the Rollout location date you are attending. Paying by credit card secures your seat at time of registration. No purchase orders accepted. No participant cancellation refunds.

For questions or more information, please contact Amy Kennedy at akennedy@sjcoe.net or (209) 468-9027.



MARCH 28-29, 2018
Host: San Mateo County Office of Education
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

APRIL 10-11, 2018
Host: Orange County Office of Education
Location: Brandman University, Irvine

MAY 1-2, 2018
Host: Tulare County Office of Education
Location: Tulare County Office of Education, Visalia

MAY 3-4, 2018
Host: San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools
Location: West End Educational Service Center, Rancho Cucamonga

MAY 7-8, 2018
Host: Sacramento County Office of Education
Location: Sacramento County Office of Education Conference Center and David P. Meaney Education Center, Mather

JUNE 14-15, 2018
Host: Imperial County Office of Education
Location: Imperial Valley College, Imperial

Presented by the California Department of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association/County Offices of Education, K-12 Alliance @WestEd, California Science Project, and the California Science Teachers Association.

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.

The Teaching and Learning Collaborative, Reflections from an Administrator

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

by Kelly Patchen

My name is Mrs. Kelly Patchen, and I am proud to be an elementary assistant principal working in the Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) at Louis Bohn and McKinley Elementary Schools. Each of the schools I support are Title I K-5 schools with about 450 students, a diverse student population, a high percentage of English Language Learners, and students living in poverty. We’re also lucky to be part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative with the K-12 Alliance. 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.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

Posted: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

CSTA is pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals for 90-minute workshops and three- and six-hour short courses for the 2018 California Science Education Conference. Workshops and short courses make up the bulk of the content and professional learning opportunities available at the conference. In recognition of their contribution, members who present a workshop or short course receive 50% off of their registration fees. Click for more information regarding proposals, or submit one today by following the links below.

Short Course Proposal

Workshop Proposal 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.

CSTA’s New Administrator Facebook Group Page

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Holly Steele

The California Science Teachers Association’s mission is to promote high-quality science education, and one of the best practice’s we use to fulfill that mission is through the use of our Facebook group pages. CSTA hosts several closed and moderated Facebook group pages for specific grade levels, (Elementary, Middle, and High School), pages for district coaches and science education faculty, and the official CSTA Facebook page. These pages serve as an online resource for teachers and coaches to exchange teaching methods, materials, staying update on science events in California and asking questions. CSTA is happy to announce the creation of a 6th group page called, California Administrators Supporting Science. 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: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.