May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Science Geek Vacation – Be There!

Posted: Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

by Rick Pomeroy

In the last issue of CCS, Greg Potter shared some ideas about how to become the best science teacher that you can be. His recommendation that you attend professional conferences is a great one and, luckily, the next opportunity is right around the corner. On October 25-27, CSTA will be hosting the California Science Education Conference in Palm Springs. If you have never been to a science teachers’ conference, this one is going to offer you more in three days than many methods classes can offer in a full quarter or semester. To sweeten the deal, there is a special reduced price for CSTA Student Member conference registration.

The California Science Education Conference will be three days of non-stop workshops, field courses, short courses, exhibitors, and events all focused on science education. As a supervisor of science education, I encourage my students to attend. Despite the fact that it is a full day’s drive from Northern California, it is worth every minute of the experience. There are very few opportunities so close to home where you can immerse yourself in science education as completely as you can while attending this conference.

Everything at the conference will have a California focus. For the price of registration there will be workshop sessions, focus speakers on special topics, and keynote speakers on hot topics in science education. There are evening events and an exhibit hall with many of the top vendors of science equipment, supplies, text materials and enrichment opportunities. When you check the online conference program, you will see workshops and session on integrating the California Common Core Standards, both Math and English Language Arts in science classes, as well as sessions about NGSS. There will be strands of workshops focused on life science, physical science, environmental science, biology, chemistry, physics, earth and space science. There is a good mix of sessions focused on science teaching in primary grades and upper elementary, middle school, and high school. There are even a few sessions that will appeal to college or university faculty. If that is not enough, there are workshops focused on engineering, cross-disciplinary teaching, pedagogy, classroom management, teaching with data, and even project-based learning.

Short courses (three-hour programs) and field courses (off-site programs), are both available for an extra charge. All in all, the California Science Education Conference is your go-to place for a booster shot on science and science education. While you are there, watch for special events specifically for preservice teachers and opportunities for preservice teachers to meet and greet. My students have found that one of the very best things that they take away from the conference is their interactions with preservice teachers from other programs. Meeting others in the same situation that you are is a great way to gain a better understanding of your place in the future of science education in California.

My students often ask for advice on what to do or how to negotiate the conference. Having attended this conference for many years, I always make the following recommendations: Wear comfortable walking shoes and comfortable clothing. The conference is a reasonably relaxed atmosphere where everyone is on a science “geek” vacation. Make sure that you bring business cards or stickers with your name, school address, and email address on them. There will be many opportunities to enter drawings and request information from exhibitors, presenters, and speakers during the conference and it is much easier to have a card or mailing sticker with this information than to have to write it out every time. Look at the program and plan your experience in advance.

When you plan your schedule, try to have two or three possible choices for each session time. Go to the session that interests you the most. If after you arrive you find that it is not what you were expecting, it is ok to get up and leave and go to another session. If you do this, leave quietly and enter quietly. Put your cell phone on silent and if you get a call, go out in the hall to talk. Take an extra duffle bag or suitcase to pack your swag for the trip home. There will be lots of samples and cool things that new teachers can use. If you are driving, you might consider bringing a mailing tube about 1 meter long. This will be great for making sure that any posters or maps that you get arrive back at home without being squished or folded. Don’t feel obligated to sign up for and pay for short courses this first time you attend the conference. There are plenty of free workshops for you to attend this year. Next year when you have a paid teaching position, sign up for some of those (of course if your school or some other organization is paying for our attendance, go ahead and sign up if you want). Try to make it to the evening events. These will be great places to socialize with lots of other preservice and in-service teachers alike. On Friday night, there will be a ticketed event at the Renaissance. It is a combination pool party and cardboard boat contest. This one is definitely worth the price of admission ($10 – and includes $10 worth of food). Finally, go and have a good time. I tell my students that this is a very acceptable reason for taking a day off from student teaching. Attendance at professional conferences is sign of a committed educator and an opportunity that should not be missed.

I am looking forward to the conference. Feel free to find me while you are there and let me know about your conference experience. As past president of CSTA and a member of the conference planning committee, I am very interested in hearing your opinions.

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis.

Leave a Reply

LATEST POST

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…

Powered By DT Author Box

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…

Powered By DT Author Box

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.