September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1 Free Biology Education Resources for Instructors, Students & Parents

Posted: Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Tami Port is a web resource I started developing several years ago, in cooperation with Colorado high school science teacher Alicia Cepaitis. The purpose of the site was to make all of the biology teaching materials that we have created over the years available, free of cost, to other instructors, students and parents. Below is a summary of what the site offers.

Free College & High School Biology Resources
SPO features completely developed and classroom-tested college-level microbiology, cell biology, general biology, and soon anatomy & physiology course materials. Resources available include PowerPoint lectures, laboratory exercises, homework assignments, practice test questions, study guides, sample syllabi, as well as science photos and video library. These college and high school materials are organized a couple of ways:

Virtual Classrooms
These are the main pages where I have my microbiology and cell biology students go to directly access course material during the semester. These are essentially ready-made micro and cell classes that any instructor teaching these subjects could use. Currently we have instructors and students from 100 countries around the world and all 50 US states utilizing our resources as complete courses or pick and choose pieces to supplement lessons. All resources can be modified and customized to suit the individual using them. For examples of these course main pages see:

“Instructors Corner” Main Pages
Rather than being organized as a complete course that students would access directly, “Instructors Corner” pages have links to all of the site’s teaching resources organized by topic. If an instructor is looking for a basic inorganic chemistry or molecular genetics lecture and supporting class materials, these can easily be found in the “Instructors Corner”.  For an example, visit The Science Prof Online Instructors Corner.

Free Grade School, Home School and Parent Science Education Resources
I have young children and wanted to do more home science projects with them. So, I also developed an area of the website for kids, where we could post the science experiments and activities that we do at home. Topics include frog metamorphosis and care, flatworm regeneration and care, pond life, home microbiology experiments. We are also developing a new monarch butterfly metamorphosis page and a section referencing additional kid-friendly science resources. Many of these topics include detailed observations, experimental design, science coloring pages and word search activities. As with the Virtual Classrooms described above, the kid science topic pages can be used, as is, for class science projects, or teachers can pick, choose and modify any of these resources.

The main page for these kid science activities is our Home School and Classroom Science Main Page

More about Website
The website does have some advertising on it. These ads generate a very modest income from the site that helps compensate us for the thousands of hours we have put into making our teaching materials available. We continually try to hone the ads to be minimally obtrusive and maximally relevant to the topic of the page they appear on.

The materials on are particularly useful for new instructors looking for fully developed, classroom-tested resources as well as experienced instructors seeking some new materials to add to their curriculum. CSTA members, please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments on the website.

Tami Port, MS, is a biology instructor at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Chief Executive Nerd of and is member of the Michigan Science Teacher Association (MSTA).

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy:

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CSTA Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

Updated 7:25 pm, Nov. 17, 2017

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. 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.

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.