May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Science Is in the Air – So Much Going On!

Posted: Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Laura Henriques

It’s May and with that comes AP exams, science fair, science Olympiad, NGSS Rollout Symposium, plans for summer professional development opportunities for us and our students. There are so many things happening in our regions and around the state. It’s hard to keep up on everything, but try we must!

Springtime is when our students show us what they’ve got!

Springtime is the culmination for a wide range of year-long or semester-long science activities. Congratulations and thank you to all of our members and science friends who helped with Science Olympiad, Science Fairs, academic decathlon, AP exams, robotics competitions, science or STEM fairs and more. We all recognize that it takes a lot of time, work, energy and passion from teachers and kids to get to the point where kids are able to share what they know, apply their knowledge and skills, be competitive, and shine. Those long after-school sessions, Saturday work sessions, the time away from family, the extra hours… they are worth it. You do make a difference and the opportunities that you are providing to your students will be remembered long after the event(s) are over. 

NGSS Professional Learning Opportunities

Registration

At press time, there is one NGSS Rollout I symposium still to come – June 1-2 in Ventura. The first NGSS Rollout II symposium took place April 27-28 at the San Joaquin County Office of Education. Two hundred science educators from around the state took part in two packed days of NGSS learning. Evaluation data from the rollout was positive. There was lots of learning, good connections and networking, and a sense that we can do this. There are two additional NGSS Rollout II sessions this spring and a half-dozen more in the fall. For details and to register visit regonline.com/NGSS2015Training. CSTA was part of the team that planned, wrote and presented at the rollout. Thanks to CSTA members who participated in these roles. Sessions include NGSS 103, The Tool (a tool to help with planning lessons), A Lesson (participation in grade level lessons so you can feel what a NGSS 3D learning sequence is like), Practices, and the opportunity to pick a session from Engineering, Administration Strand, Crosscutting Concepts and High School (course sequence discussions). It was great to see so many CSTA members in San Joaquin. I look forward to seeing more CSTA members at future rollouts. Stop by the CSTA table to see the latest NGSS timeline, get a membership ribbon or just visit.

CSTA and NSTA are teaming up again for a summer institute about NGSS on July 9th in Anaheim. CSTA members get a discounted registration rate for this full-day event. In addition to a keynote there will be breakout sessions for elementary and secondary science. Presenters include some national names associated with NGSS and California Science Project’s Maria Simani. Find out more and register online.

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The 2015 California Science Education Conference (October 2-4 in Sacramento) will have ~200 workshops, presentations, field courses and talks to help you continue on the journey from awareness to transition to implementation of NGSS. Registration opens soon. The conference committee, under the leadership of Deb Farkas, is putting together a great event. Check out the site to find out some of the unique programs we have planned for you.

Our Regional Directors find out what’s happening in their region and share that with all of us. As we learn about new summer opportunities they get posted to the CSTA events calendar. Check out the opportunities listed within each region.

Framework Update This month the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee will see the final draft of the CA Science Framework. This group of dedicated individuals will have read more than 3,000 pages this school year, providing input to the writers. After the May 20-21 meeting the framework will go to the Subject Matter Committee then to the Instructional Quality Commission and then to all of us for the public input period. A big thanks to the writing team (headed up by the California Science Project) and to the CFCC members. You should also know that the CSTA NGSS Committee has read all the drafts and provided feedback along the way as well. The entire membership owes them a debt of thanks for their contributions to the process.

Earth/Space Science ad-hoc committee getting started

Maria Simani (California Science Project) and I (CSTA) have been engaged in conversations around the dilemma of earth/space science not being a D-lab course for UC/CSU A-G requirements. We know that this is a concern for many of our members, especially geoscience teachers at the high school level. We figure that the adoption of NGSS might be a good time for us to re-examine the issue and see what we can do about getting a change in thinking. A small ad-hoc committee has been formed to develop a working plan. The committee will meet in early June. Once we have a plan we will call for wider participation and input from the CSTA membership.

And finally …. CSTA will be holding its quarterly Board of Directors meeting on June 6th in Long Beach. Just as the state is busy determining how to transition and implement NGSS, CSTA continues to support you through the process. Our board members and committee members serve in a variety of ways to help support science education in California. We’ll spend some of our time at the June board meeting determining how best to do that. Please let me know if you have suggestions or questions.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and past-president of CSTA. She serves as chair of CSTA’s Nominating Committee and is a co-chair of the NGSS Committee.

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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.