May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Recognizing and Shining a Light on Excellence

Posted: Thursday, January 14th, 2016

by Laura Henriques

CSTA President Lisa Hegdahl presents the 2015 Future Science Teacher Award to Justin Fournier.

CSTA President Lisa Hegdahl presents the 2015 Future Science Teacher Award to Justin Fournier.

The CSTA Board of Directors likes to recognize excellence and significant contributions. There are many ways that CSTA recognizes contributions of our members. For example, the President publicly acknowledges member contributions to committees and authorship in California Classroom Science at the CSTA California Science Education Conference and in press in CCS. We know that the work of our organization is done by many and we like to recognize and acknowledge your contributions.

Another way that CSTA recognizes and highlights excellence to our field is via the awards program. The awards recognize contributions beyond service to CSTA. We have three awards given annually which recognize outstanding contributions, excellence in the field and the potential for excellence. I am guessing you know of individuals, groups or organizations that would be worthy recipients of these awards. Please take the time to nominate one!

Think about the most influential science educators in California. This should be a CSTA member who has made a significant, ongoing contribution to science education in the state through leadership and service. Can you picture him or her? Wouldn’t you like everyone to know how this person has positively impacted the quality of science education and science teaching in California? Nominate this person for the Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award. The Nicholson Award is CSTA’s highest honor and it recognizes significant contributions to science education. Both the nominee and nominator must be CSTA members for at least four years. To submit a nomination for the Nicholson award, please click here. Only one Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award will be given in any year. Click to view past recipients. (CSTA Board Members are not eligible to receive this award while serving on the Board.)

CSTA President Lisa Hegdahl presents the 2015 Distinguished Contributions Award to Katie Jaxheimer Agarwal of the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.

CSTA President Lisa Hegdahl presents the 2015 Distinguished Contributions Award to Katie Jaxheimer Agarwal of the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.

In addition to recognizing excellence in personal contributions, CSTA recently created an award to recognize group or organizational contributions to science education. The CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award honors an organization, institution or foundation which has made a sustained, significant impact to science education in the state and which, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching and learning. No more than two CSTA Distinguished Contributions Awards will be given in any year. To submit a nomination for this award, please click here. In addition to completing the online nomination form, nominators should submit one or more letters of support which describe specific examples of service to science education, commitment to excellence in science education, professional involvement and evidence of contributions. Click to view past recipients.

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The final award given by CSTA recognizes potential. The CSTA Future Science Teacher Award recognizes college students (undergraduates or credential candidates) who demonstrate an interest in and commitment to science education through volunteer tutoring or teaching activities in a school setting, volunteer activities in a museum, nature center or related organization, courses taken in science, long-term career goals, and related activities, and who show promise to become outstanding science educators. No more than two Future Science Teacher Awards will be awarded in any year. Click to view past recipients. To submit a nomination for this award, please click here. Nominators need to be CSTA members, but the nominee (the college student) is not required to be a CSTA member. Nominators will submit the nomination form and a letter of endorsement. The nominee will then be asked to submit written descriptions of their commitment and experiences in science education.

Over the years I have nominated several people and organizations for CSTA awards. I enjoy submitting the nominations and I know that the nominees appreciate the recognition – even when they are not selected. The fact that I took time to acknowledge their contributions and service is appreciated. The nomination process does not take very long and the person or group you nominate is sure to appreciate the effort and gesture. Please consider submitting a nomination for one of the three awards listed above. There are lots of outstanding individuals and groups doing work in California. Wouldn’t you like to see them get their moment in the spotlight?

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and past-president of CSTA. She serves as chair of CSTA’s Nominating Committee and is a co-chair of the NGSS Committee.

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Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HappyAtoms

Please contact Rosanne Luu at rluu@wested.org or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

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.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). 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.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. 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.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. 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 NGSS 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.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.