September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

News and Events for March 2014

Posted: Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

by Eric Lewis

Clearly there is a lot of movement around STEM these days. STEM fairs, STEM workshops, STEM getting mentioned in every type of professional development for science teachers. However, “STEM education” seems to have different meanings to different people. As science, technology, engineering and mathematics encompasses a pretty broad range of careers, activities and curriculum, it’s not too surprising that people think of STEM education differently based on their personal experience in education, careers, and aspirations.

Regardless, when I see articles in our local paper around getting more young women into coding, see videos of students printing 3-D robots, and notice the proliferation of Maker Faire Events, I get a bit excited. This seems like STEM to me – using math and science concepts to figure out solutions to problems, creating prototypes of designs to fill specific needs, creating new online gaming environments for other people to explore… These activities exemplify the types of skills that will be needed for some of the more innovative jobs of the future; these are the challenges that breathe life into science and mathematics curricula.

But, many of us are used to being teachers of science. Just science. We’ve refined and enriched our classrooms through laboratory experiments, demonstrations and activities to support our curriculum. What do many of us know of engineering? How many teachers still think of technology as their overhead projector? These are the hurdles that many of us will need to negotiate over the coming years. This is where we need to focus our professional development, and this is where we’ll need to learn from the digital natives that are coming up as new teachers at our sites. Let this be our time to show how well we learn, adapt and integrate new skills into our existing repertoire. The 2014 NSTA Area Conference in Collaboration with CSTA in Long Beach (December 4-6) will be a great place to continue our professional growth.

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. Make sure that you participate in our upcoming elections; we will be electing many new board members in the coming year (including a new one for Region 2!).

Eric Lewis, lewise2@sfusd.edu

There are many, many science opportunities in the Bay Area. Please visit here to see a year round calendar of events in our area. Some events 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, Quarterly free days. The next is June 1st, 2014

Exploratorium, Free Days, Selected days: March 14th, May 11th, September 28th, October 12th

Star Parties:

Houge Park Star Party, March 7th, March 21st

San Mateo County Astronomical Society Star Party, March 1st, March 22nd, March 29th

Starry Nights Open Space at Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve, Morgan Hill: March 22nd

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/s in March:

2014 Spring STEM Conference

Saturday, 3/15/14, 9:00 AM – 3:30 PM
1st floor, McHenry Library, UC Santa Cruz
In this conference, you will:

  • Identify ways to create a classroom culture that promotes the Common Core State Standards in math and literacy in science.
  • Gain strategies on how to integrate the new Common Core Literacy Standards in science and math lessons.
  • Learn about the Next Generation Science Standards in the context of engaging science lessons.
  • Integrate the Environmental Education Initiative curriculum with your science program.
  • Learn how a school garden can breathe life into your science, literacy or math curriculum.

For more information, contact Joyce Hill, Monterey Bay Science Project at joyceh@ucsc.edu or visit their website. Cost: $35/teacher. Continuing Education credits available.

OpenROV: Open Source Underwater Robots for Exploration and Education

Wednesday, 03/19/14, 12:00 PM – 01:00 PM

CITRIS at UC Berkeley, Sutardja Dai Hall, Banatao Auditorium, Berkeley

OpenROV is an open-source underwater robot. But it’s so much more. It’s also a community of people who are working together to create more accessible, affordable, and awesome tools for underwater exploration.

The backbone of the project is the global community of DIY ocean explorers who are working, tinkering and improving the OpenROV design. The community ranges from professional ocean engineers to hobbyists, software developers to students. It’s a welcoming community and everyone’s feedback and input is valued.

The project started in a garage in Cupertino, with a few guys who wanted to explore an underwater cave. After finding a global community of co-developers on Kickstarter©, the project has evolved into a network of connected devices, exploring the oceans and lakes of the world.

Speaker: David Lang, OpenROV

For more information, visit their website or register online here.

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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State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 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.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Cal

This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.