Posted: Monday, August 1st, 2011
by Rick Pomeroy
It is the beginning of August and time to start transitioning from summer vacation to the start of the school year. It is time to put away the shorts and flip flops, tool belts and paint brushes, beach novels and travel maps, and begin to think about lesson plans and activities, objectives and standards, students and exciting ways to engage them in our passions for science. Like the changing seasons, August always awakens a bit of wonder about what is to come. Will it be a good year, will my students really get it this year, will they be excited to learn new things, will I be able to provide the right environment for them so that we are all engaged in challenging and worth while learning experiences?
As we begin the 2011 school year, there are several exciting opportunities on the horizon that could change the landscape in science education in California for years to come. On June 9, California announced that it would join the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium in a leadership role for the development of a new assessment system aligned with the Common Core Standards for Math and English Language Arts. Though science is not yet included, the fact that the State has joined in this role is an indication of a willingness to revamp our current assessment systems by the 2014-15 school year and to align them with nationally adopted curricula. This opens the door to a revamped science assessment system if and when the science framework and science standards are updated. On July 19, the National Research Council released A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Though I have not managed to read the entire Framework, the executive summary advocates for more depth and less breadth in the content to be covered (See the article in this issue of eCCS).
As stated in last month’s eCCS, Senate Bill 300 continues to move forward. This bill, sponsored by CSTA, calls for the restarting of the standards review process with a report to the State Board of Education presented in January 2013. (See report in July eCCS). This does not mean that only the existing standards will be reviewed. What we are hoping for is that this will trigger a rethinking of the content of the standards and the possibility of adopting standards with a more national focus. To this end, we are anticipating the release of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in late 2012.
As you can see, there is a lot happening in California with the potential of updating and modifying the science curriculum. As members of CSTA and/or friends of science education in California, it is important to stay abreast of the developments and to voice your opinions about the direction California should take. At CSTA, we will be monitoring all of the developments and distributing information as quickly as possible.
Finally, now is the time to make plans to attend the California Science Education Conference in Pasadena on October 21 – 23. The planning committee has done an outstanding job of bringing together a wide range of workshops, short courses, field courses, and speakers to pique even the most experienced teacher’s interest. I look forward to seeing you in Pasadena in October.
Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California, Davis and is CSTA’s president.
Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
by Jessica Sawko
In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.
At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/infomeeting.asp.) Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
by Carol Peterson
1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!
Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award
The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?
The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt
Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…