November/December 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 2


Free Resources    Teacher Opportunities    Awards and Competitions for Students         Awards and Grants for Teachers

Free Resources

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts – Achieve interviewed nine of the ten districts participating in the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative and wrote about their experience transitioning to the NGSS in two critical implementation areas: professional learning and instructional materials.

  • Professional Learning for NGSS Lessons Learned addresses the different formats and audiences for professional learning districts used, the content and design of the professional learning for both teachers and administrators, and criteria for selecting or designing professional learning programs.
  • Instructional Materials for NGSS Lessons Learned addresses the different approaches to transitioning instructional materials while implementing the NGSS, criteria for instructional materials, and includes example materials and student work.

Build Molecules in My Molecularium – a Free New Game App

The Molecularium Project’s molecule building game makes learning science fun. Everybody will be blown away by My Molecularium, a fun, new molecule building game, and they’ll have fun learning real science while they play. This fast-paced, free game app challenges players to build a wide variety of fascinating molecules from water and vitamin C to caffeine and adrenalin.

This exciting new action-oriented app is played by launching atoms at target bond sites to assemble molecules of increasing complexity and difficulty. Players aim and launch their atoms by moving their device using innovative laser-guided gyroscopic technology. The object of the game is to create as many molecules as you can in the shortest period of time. Fun facts about each molecule are shared with players along with an accuracy bonus for each completed molecule.  A wide range of achievements can be earned as players advance through the different levels, each with their own challenges.

The app is the latest effort of the successful Molecularium® Project, spearheaded by faculty at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and funded by the National Science Foundation and others to excite audiences of all ages to explore and understand the molecular nature of the world around them. “It’s a fun, challenging game for all ages. Everyone can have a great time learning about the structures of a variety of important molecules while they play,“ said Richard W. Siegel, founding director of Rensselaer’s Nanotechnology Center and one of the innovators behind Rensselaer’s Molecularium Project. “This game app was the next logical step in continuing to expand our innovative educational productions that make learning about science great fun.”

Synopsys Outreach Foundation, which annually enables and celebrates CA students and teachers developing science projects, we believe hands-on science projects are the perfect vehicles for implementing NGSS. We hope you’ll find our Engineering Design Process infographic useful. And please note: as engineering happens in zigzags and spirals, the process may look different for each product.

Web Seminar: How Do I Select Phenomena to Motivate Student Sense-Making? Tricia Shelton and Ted Willard recorded a presentation about three-dimensional teaching and learning and the explanation of phenomena, how to choose phenomena for the classroom, and how to encourage students to actually make sense of them. View a recording of the seminar here.

Web Seminar: How Do I Promote Student Modeling?

Cynthia Passmore and Jennifer Horton recorded a presentation about how three-dimensional teaching and learning features a shift in focus from having students learn about science to figuring out phenomena. See you how to foster modeling in your classroom. View a recording of the seminar here.

CAST Assessment Resources from CDE

The updated flyer “CAST Field Test: New Resources” is now available and includes a hyperlink to the training test and the science tools that are available as universal tools for students taking the CAST.

Also available is the CAST Accessibility Guidelines Report, which

  • documents the process that the California Department of Education (CDE) and Educational Testing Service used to determine the appropriate supports for students taking a statewide science assessment;
  • provides information on embedded and non-embedded accessibility supports (i.e., universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations) that will be available for the operational CAST in 2019; and
  • provides recommendations for the use of accessibility supports.

NGSS Instructional Materials and Lesson Review Tools

Taken together, these resources and others serve to illustrate some important features of NGSS-aligned instructional materials and highlight some of the common ideas and frequently asked questions that emerge regarding classroom activities.

Professional Development for Science Assessment

To support educators during their development of new, three-dimensional formative assessments aligned to the NGSS, open educational resources (OER) have been developed as part of a new collaboration called the Advancing Coherent and Equitable Systems of Science Education (ACESSE, or “access”) project.

The ACESSE project is a partnership between the Council of State Science Supervisors, Colorado Boulder University, and the University of Washington. The group has created two hour-long, web-based professional development sessions which include:

The partner organizations encourage educators to both share the resources with their networks, including in a smaller professional learning community, and customize the resources to suit individual school or district needs. More information is available on the STEM Teaching Tools website and the OER Commons platform.

NGSS Example Bundles 

The Example Bundles (formerly known as the Model Content Frameworks for Science) will show samples of ways to bundle the NGSS within a school year. “Bundling” is an important strategy for implementing standards, as it brings coherence to instruction and greatly reduces the amount of instructional time necessary.

In June, Achieve released the first set of Example Bundles which featured the following resources:

  • Kindergarten Bundles (Thematic Model and Topics Model)
  • Middle School Course I Models (Phenomenon and Topics Model)
  • High School Course I Models (Conceptual Progressions Model and Domains Model – Chemistry)
  • NGSS Example Bundles Guide

In August, Achieve released the second set of bundles which highlight the following resources:

  • 1st Grade Bundles (Thematic Model and Topics Model)
  • 4th Grade Bundles (Thematic Model and Topics Model)
  • High School Course II Models (Conceptual Progressions Model and Domains Model – Physics)

In October, Achieve released the third set of bundles:

  • 3rd Grade Bundles (Thematic Model and Topics Model)
  • Middle School Course II Models (Phenomenon Model and Topics Model)
  • High School Course III Models (Conceptual Progressions Model and Domains Model-Biology)

All of the currently available NGSS Example Bundle resources can be viewed here.

The remaining sets of example bundles will be released in coming months and will ultimately cover all grade levels. This rollout will help ensure that curriculum developers for science, including educators and commercial publishers, have a broad set of examples to consider in preparation for the 2016-17 school year.

CREEC Network Newsletters
CREEC publishes a Statewide e-Newsletter (10 issues per year), and local regional Newsletters (4 issues, Quarterly). You may choose from Statewide and/or Local Newsletters, sent directly to your inbox!  CREEC will, on occasion, send you email announcements regarding time-sensitive opportunities (no more than once per week).  Archives and a newsletter sign-up form are available online.

CSTA Facebook Pages
These groups are active and exclusive to educators that meet those descriptors. Ask questions, share resources, get answers – join today!

To join a group, please submit a request on that page:

NGSS Rollouts 1, 2, and 3 Presentation Materials
You can find all the materials from the first, second, and third phases of the NGSS Rollouts on the CA NGSS My Digital Chalkboard reference page. These materials are intended to be used for further local training and development. Educators are strongly encouraged to attend a Rollout training before using the posted materials to develop instructional activities or deliver training.

NGSS Classroom Sample Tasks
The Classroom Sample Tasks blend content, practices, and concepts from both the NGSS and the Common Core State Standards. Teachers across the disciplines have collaborated to write sample tasks, which are the result of a vision of integrating science, engineering, and mathematics for classroom use.

Currently, nine draft middle and high school tasks are available below. Additional tasks, including those for elementary grade levels, will be added as they become available. Educators are encouraged to modify these tasks for their needs and to let us know how they can be improved (via the website contact form).  It important to note that these tasks are drafts and that they will be revised as we receive feedback from users.

NGSS Frequently Asked Questions by CDE
CDE has compiled a comprehensive FAQ site around the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for California.

Digital Chalkboard
The Digital Chalkboard replaces the Brokers of Expertise Web site. The portal now has more than 400,000 digital resources, including training modules and videos, model lesson plans, and researched-based data. Teachers can also use the Web site to join discussion groups where they can share success stories and help each other improve their teaching. It is faster and easier to navigate and provides more assistance to teachers.

Check out the California Common Core State Standards: Professional Learning Modules: Literacy in Science. Not only is the content great, the module features many CSTA members!

PG&E Better Together STEM High School Program 

Pacific Gas and Electric Company are proud to announce an exciting program to provide high school teachers with resources that expand STEM education, career awareness, and workforce readiness. In each monthly webinar, teachers will hear directly from energy experts about industry trends and will be the first to learn about new program offerings and free hands-on workshops. For more information on how to register visit their website here 

Science Articles from the Academy now on Newsela

The California Academy of Sciences is excited to announce the launch of our Content Partnership with Newsela as a new way for us to bring you news and nonfiction science articles to your students. Our partnership with Newsela brings you:

  • Activities created for students to fit into your existing literacy routine
  • Content at multiple reading levels to meet your students where they are
  • Assessments that are keyed to student engagement and comprehension
  • Vocabulary words taught in context embedded in every article
  • Join the Newsela educator community of over 1,300,000 and counting

All of their science texts come straight from bioGraphic, an award-winning multimedia magazine powered by the Academy. They’ll be adding dozens of articles to Newsela this fall, so stay tuned for more!


Teacher Opportunities

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

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:

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

Bring Kennedy Space Center into any classroom with Kennedy Online Outreach & Learning (KOOL) Science. A distance learning studio with state-of-the-art multimedia technology, KOOL Science brings live video conferencing to the classroom with an expert educator. Each hands-on lesson addresses National Standards in science, technology and mathematics and specifically relates to NASA missions. Geared toward students in grades 5-8, lessons can be modified for students in grades 3-9. Inspire students with a pre-recorded presentation by an astronaut that can be added on to any lesson.

Topics include:

  • Let It Glo! Parts 1 and 2 explores photoluminescence, electroluminescence, chemiluminescence and bioluminescence.
  • Get Moving Parts 1 and 2 explores Newton’s Laws of Motion.
  • Survivor: SPACE investigates three challenges that astronauts face when living in a microgravity environment such as the International Space Station.
  • It’s Only a Phase introduces students to the relationships of the Earth, moon and sun.
  • Meet a Smee programs give students and teachers an opportunity to talk with a subject matter expert (SME) in space-related fields.
  • Virtual Visit takes students on a guided tour of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, using video clips and chroma-key technology to bring the visitor complex into the classroom.

Lessons also contain a teacher’s guide with material lists, objectives, evaluation tools, extension activities and more.

To learn more, call 1.855.433.4210 daily 8 am – 6 pm EST.

Opportunities to Participate in the Redevelopment of the Commission’s Teaching Performance Assessment (CalTPA)

The Commission is seeking current California teachers, practicing TK-12 school administrators, educators who help prepare and/or mentor beginning teachers, and teacher preparation program faculty to participate in the upcoming pilot testing, field testing, scoring, and standard setting study for the Commission’s model Teaching Performance Assessment (CalTPA) currently under redevelopment. It is anticipated that pilot testing will take place during 2016-17, with field testing and the standard setting study taking place during 2017-18. Scoring opportunities will be available both years. The Commission’s Executive Director recently appointed 20 members to a California Design Team to work with Commission staff and its technical contractor, Evaluation Systems group of Pearson, to redevelop the CalTPA. The continuing involvement of California educators as the CalTPA is redeveloped will help ensure that candidates have the appropriate knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to perform the job of a beginning California teacher. If you are interested in finding out more about participating in the pilot test, field test, scoring, and/or standard setting activities for the CalTPA, please contact Evaluation Systems at

Apply to Participate in CA NGSS Assessment Development
Educational Testing Services (ETS) is soliciting applications for content reviewers for the new CA NGSS assessment and alternate assessment. Apply today:

Association of American Educators Foundation Classroom Grant Application
Classroom grants can be used for a variety of projects and materials, including but not limited to books, software, calculators, math manipulatives, art supplies, audio-visual equipment, and lab materials. The number of classroom grants awarded will depend on the total number of applicants. Grants are available for up to $500. Funds must be used within one year of the application deadline. Due: October 1st and March 1st each year.

STEAM – Toshiba America Foundation – Grants

Wanted: Classroom Innovators! Toshiba America Foundation accepts applications from teachers who are passionate about making science and mathematics more engaging for their students.

  • Grades 6-12 Grant requests for $5,000 or less are accepted on a rolling basis, throughout the calendar year.
  • Grades 6-12 Grant requests for $5,000 or more are accepted and reviewed twice a year – June 1st and November 1st    

Science Educators – Win a BUBBLE Grant! Up to $500 will be awarded

The Santa Clara Valley Section of the American Chemical Society wants to provide elementary and secondary school educators with the tools they need for science programs. The section is pleased to announce a call for proposals from K-12 science teachers to apply for a BUBBLE grant of up to $500 for worthwhile science projects. Grants will be awarded for projects that enhance the teaching of physical, life or earth science. This grant program will consider funding of amounts requested in a proposal, but reserves the right to fund some proposals partially. The grant may not be used for teacher awards or compensation. Qualified uses of the funds are for purchases related to the proposed project such as scientific equipment, instructional materials and/or supplies. See Flyer for more details.

California Academy of Sciences – Virtual Programs 

Virtual Programs are live, interactive programs that connect your class to Academy collections, animals, and exhibits over the internet. Requiring nothing more than a computer with a reliable internet connection, speakers, and a projector, these sessions will bring excitement to your science curriculum.

Our educators are available weekdays from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm PST. We can start one of our live, interactive programs at a time that fits your schedule.

Choose from the programs listed below:

Awards and Competitions for Students

Calling all California K-12 students, parents, and teachers! It’s time to enter the Coastal Art & Poetry Contest!

Let our coast and ocean inspire you! Win great prizes!

Have your work featured online and exhibited throughout California! 

California students in kindergarten through 12th grade are invited to submit artwork or poetry with a California coastal or marine theme to the annual Coastal Art & Poetry Contest.

Entries must be postmarked by January 31, 2018 to be eligible for the upcoming contest. For rules and entry form (and helpful links for teachers and students), visit our website or email You can also download a contest flyer.

Up to ten winners will be selected to win $100 gift certificates to an art supply store (for artists) or book store (for poets). Each winner’s sponsoring teacher will receive a $50 gift certificate for educational supplies, courtesy of Acorn Naturalists . All winners and their teacher will receive tickets to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific, courtesy of the Aquarium. Students may have their work featured on Commission web pages and materials, and winners and honorable mentions will be exhibited throughout the state.

NEW! California Academy of Sciences is offering a FREE program to inspire classrooms preparing for the Coastal Art & Poetry Contest. During this virtually interactive program, Academy museum educators will teach methods of how scientists create and use art, as well as showcase other styles of art from early pioneering naturalists to the contemporary artists of our time. Programs will be offered for grades K-3 on November 30 or December 15 and for grades 4-12 on November 8 or December 1, on all days at both 9:10am and 10:10am. Teachers should visit to learn more and to register! Space is limited.

Judging assistance is graciously provided by Chapman University’s Tabula Poetica program.

Prints of past winners from this contest as well as winners from our fantastic photography contest are available for purchase, helping to fund this contest and other education efforts.

Awards and Grants for Teachers
National Science Teachers Association Awards: The deadline for NSTA Awards Nominations is December 15. Visit for details.

Shell Science Lab Challenge
The annual Shell Science Lab Challenge Competition recognizes outstanding middle and high school programs for their exemplary approaches to science lab instruction utilizing limited school and laboratory resources. The Challenge will showcase the work of teachers, representing their schools, who submit innovative, replicable strategies to deliver quality lab experiences with limited equipment/resources, and award teachers/schools with additional tools, resources, and rich professional development opportunities needed to support high-quality science teaching and strengthen their existing capabilities. Registration deadline is December 15, 2017. To apply and for more information please go to: