May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Professional Development Opportunity: Students Empowered to Help the Environment

Posted: Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

by Bill Andrews

In the Spring semester of 2013, 436 Northern California students in grades three through twelve completed dozens of remarkable school-based environmental stewardship projects. Facilitated by their teachers who were participating in a professional development institute, the students reported they not only “learned new information [about the environment] and were motivated to do new [stewardship] projects,” but also they “came away from their project with a sense of empowerment to help the environment.” The students’ attitudes and behaviors toward the environment were collected via surveys after they completed their stewardship projects. The survey results were compiled by the Los Angeles-based Evaluation and Training Institute (ETI), as part of an external evaluation plan coordinated by the California Environmental Education Foundation (CEEF).

The ETI research revealed that the “younger students in the third and fourth grades gained in environmental knowledge, had positive attitudes towards specific stewardship behaviors, and were willing to engage in these behaviors.” ETI found equally impressive results in the post-project surveys with the students in grades five through twelve. ETI reported the older students “experienced statistically significant impacts [in environmental knowledge, attitude and behavior] and they “demonstrated they were able to think through an environmental problem: identifying the problem, cause and solutions.” In all likelihood, the students’ acquired thinking skills and environmental knowledge will be very useful in helping them master the new “science and engineering practices” and “disciplinary core ideas” found in the recently adopted California Next Generation Science Standards.

Students pictured above clear brush to restore an over-grown nature trail

Students pictured above clear brush to restore an over-grown nature trail

The most promising evidence that the students benefitted from their stewardship projects is seen in ETI’s finding that two-thirds of the students indicated they “agreed or strongly agreed” that “the stewardship project taught me new information about environmental problems.” And one sixth-grade student proudly stated, “we know that we are going make a difference to pass this life-lesson on to the community,” after his class presented a water awareness campaign to other students and their parents. This student’s confidence was corroborated by 85% of the teachers who reported to ETI that they “saw student evidence of increased ecological content knowledge [e.g. through tests, classroom discussions, and reports].” These positive student results were exactly the desired outcomes of both CEEF and its outside supporters: the Saxton Family Foundation, The Department of Water Resources, and the Sandia National Laboratories.

Teachers role-playing sediment in a Project WET activity: "Just Passing Through”

Teachers role-playing sediment in a Project WET activity: “Just Passing Through”

The next CEEF teacher institute is planned for 2015 in Los Angeles. Prior to being accepted to the Institute the teachers will need to obtain their principal’s permission to conduct a stewardship project and agree to participate in action research. The Institute teachers receive a stipend, complimentary meals, 24 hours of professional development, and follow-up coaching from experts in pedagogy, environmental education and stewardship. The teacher institute application will be posted on the CEEF website in the fall at www.caeefoundation.org. Questions regarding the Institute should be directed to Bill Andrews, CEEF Executive Director, via email at w.andrews2930@comcast.net.

Bill Andrews is the Executive Director at the California Environmental Education Foundation (CEEF)

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.

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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 zi@cascience.org.)

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: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

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.