May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Region 2 Message and Events

Posted: Monday, July 1st, 2013

by Eric Lewis

“While the days are still pretty long, days get shorter EVERY day of the summer.”  My 9th grade Earth Science teacher taught me that a LONG time ago.  While that makes me a bit sad about how quickly summer months pass by, I know that these months and/or weeks help to rejuvenate teachers in so many ways.

When I was new teacher, I was lucky that my department chair protected me as much as possible (aside from giving me three preps, not including the one class that had newcomers to the United States that I had to teach VERY differently than my other classes!).  However, one piece of advice that she gave me was NOT to teach summer school or night school during my first few years of teaching.  I ended up teaching night school after a few years of teaching, but avoided teaching summer school for 14 years – until this year.  Of course, for the past six years I have been out of the classroom, supporting teachers with curriculum, doing professional development, and occasionally co-teaching new lessons or covering a class for a teacher.  During those classes, I’ve always found that students were much nicer to me than they were to their regular teacher.  Not because I taught any better, but because I was a novelty to them.  And, since I didn’t really know the students, I was pretty content to assume they all were great, engaged students.

This summer, I have been teaching a group of rising 10th graders in Anatomy and Physiology.  I have the students from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every day.  We’ve gotten to know each other really well, really quickly.  I’m lucky to be co-teaching with another experienced teacher – considerably taking the pressure off me and giving me time to relax a bit during each day.  That said, I am so enjoying summer school.  The students are amazing and I’ve been surprised at how quickly they are learning new concepts and how willing they are to engage in challenging content.  Of course, this is not a typical classroom setting.  But, it has made me wonder how much more I’d want my regular classroom to be like this summer school class – where students are engaged because they’re actually doing a lot of activities, dissections, research and because they’re meeting regularly with scientists (students from CCSF, UCSF and SF State as well as professors from each of these institutions).

In the past, I’d never tell a teacher to take on summer school (unless they really needed the extra pay).  I now have a slightly different perspective.  Summer school can be a time where teachers can explore new curriculum, new ways of teaching, and new classroom structures.  Perhaps new teachers should still be cautious, but for a fifth or sixth year teacher, this might be just the thing to tweak their practice in new and exciting ways.

In closing, I hope that some of you were able to submit your ideas for workshops for this year’s Education Conference in Palm Springs in October!  And, please let me know if there are things that you’d like to add to our Region’s offerings.  Don’t forget to encourage your colleagues to join CSTA.  I’m hoping that we’ll have the opportunity to grow our organization and expand to meet your needs and your colleague’s needs.  To that end, please feel free to email me directly so that I can represent your questions and concerns with the CSTA board as a whole.

Eric Lewis, lewise2@sfusd.edu

There are many, many science opportunities in the Bay Area.  Some big ones to remember:

Free Entry Days at:

Bay Area Discovery Museum, First Wednesday of the month

UC Botanical Gardens, First Thursday of the month

Oakland Museum of California, First Sunday of the month

California Academy of Sciences, Free days on selected Sundays:  September 29th, December 8th

Exploratorium, Free Days, Selected days:  September 29th, October 13th

Star Parties:

Houge Park Star Party, July 12th

Super-cool science parties:

Night Life, Thursdays, 6-10 pm, at the California Academy of Sciences

After Dark, First Thursday of the month, 6-10 pm, at the Exploratorium

Highlighted Event in July:

Think Evolution V: A summer institute for science educators

Calling all middle school, high school, and community college biology teachers and science educators!

Put on your evolution eyeglasses and your nature of science thinking cap and join us for (yet another) fun-filled five days of evolutionary explorations with biologists and educators at the University of California. The Think Evolution Summer Institute, returning for its fifth year, will combine lectures by prominent evolutionary biologists with sessions focused on hands-on activities for the middle school, high school, and community college classroom.   Topics this year include genomics, phylogeography of amphibians, biogeography of moths, the evolution of gossip, and natural selection.

Monday through Friday, July 29–August 2, 2013
UC Museum of Paleontology, 2063 Valley Life Sciences Building, UC Berkeley
9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

$75.00 for five days; includes lots of free resources distributed to participating teachers plus morning and afternoon snacks. Plus, registrants get a field trip to the Cal Academy for a personalized tour of Human Odyssey — a new exhibit on the origin of our species.

http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/about/institute13.php

For more information, contact Lisa White or Louise S. Mead.

For additional events in our region, please reference the VERY comprehensive calendar compiled by the Bay Area Science Festival. 

Written by Eric Lewis

Eric Lewis

Eris Lewis is high school area science support in the San Francisco Unified School District LEAD office.

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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.