May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Region 1 News & Events – Featuring Guest Contributor

Posted: Monday, March 14th, 2016

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

In addition to what is coming up below is a guest article summarizing some of the great things happening in Tuolumne County. Lucky you if you have been part of these activities! If not, and you live in this part of Region 1 maybe there is something you want to look into finding out more about. It is always great to hear from sister CSTA members out there about happenings – please continue sending them to me at mshaw@siskiyoucoe.net.   

Trinity County Office of Education Mobile STEAM Team will visit Douglas City School on April 20, 2016 for an Evening STEAM Event for kids K-8.

Happenings in Tuolumne County

by Cathy Parker, Assistant Superintendent, Educational Services ,Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools

Tuolumne County continues to provide increased student and teacher support for STEM initiatives. The Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office hosted the 2nd Annual Global Cardboard Challenge, October 2015 with over 400 K-8 students and two high school teams participating. (http://www.tcsos.us/student-activities/global-cardboard-challenge/) STEM has spread to the most rural regions of Tuolumne County with the opening of a satellite campus of the InnovationLab (http://myinnovationlab.org/) at Tioga High that includes 3D printers, high end computers, and is managed primarily by students. This joint effort by the Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority is a great example of how private businesses can support STEM in our schools.

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Dinner with a Scientist (http://www.tcsos.us/dinner-with-a-scientist/) events were held in Amador/Calaveras counties on November 19 with approximately 60 students and 15 scientists, and in Tuolumne County on December 11 with approximately 120 students and 33 scientists.  Keynote speakers were Dr. Erin Naegle from Columbia College speaking about all of the tubing systems in the human body, and Dr. Debi Bolter of Modesto Junior College speaking about her work leading research on the Homo naledi fossil find in South Africa, respectively.  Women in STEM!

Our county office is working with school districts to help start up GATE programs.  At Sonora Elementary, once per month after school sessions are divided into two grade level groups, 3 to 5 and 6 to 8.  One grade level does math while the other does science/technology, then they switch the following month.

TOPS (Teaching Opportunities for Partners in Science) partners continue to visit elementary classrooms around Tuolumne County.

Our CaMSP grant STEM-TRACKS (http://www.tcsos.us/educational-services/stemtracks/) training continues with Unit Development Team meetings dominating the winter months. Culminating meeting on May 2 and Year Three Summer Intensive Institute from June 20 to 25.

HealthLitNow (http://healthlitnow.org/) has held several workshops with students in grades 7 to 9 to inform them about career opportunities in the healthcare field.  The workshops are composed of six engaging, non-didactic, NGSS focused stations that address multiple healthcare career opportunities. The stations include: neuroscience, heart and circulatory system, pulmonary system, diet, and ophthalmology.


The Forestry Institute for Teachers (FIT) is a multi-day residence workshop developed by the Northern California Society of American Foresters, University of California Cooperative Extension, Shasta County Office of Education, The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and Project Learning Tree. The FIT Program is underwritten by a consortium of public and private sources. Since 1993, more than 2,300 teachers have graduated from the program. Apply online at http://www.forestryinstitute.org/apply.html. 2016 FIT Sessions:

  • June 12-18, Plumas County
  • June 19-25, Tuolumne County
  • June 26-July 2, Shasta County
  • July 10-16, Humboldt County

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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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.