May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Seeking Chemistry Teachers for a Study

Posted: Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Dear Chemistry Teacher:

I would like to bring to your attention an opportunity to participate in a research study that is examining the effectiveness of a learning tool that was developed in 1996 by the Department of Chemistry at Indiana University, Bloomington. Since 2002, CALM (Computer Assisted Learning Method) has reached over 54 High Schools across the state of Indiana. In this time, more than 82 teachers, and well over 1000 students annually, have used this system free of charge. Teachers who have incorporated CALM in their classroom are extremely supportive of it. Primarily, this has been in the form of an online homework system that allows the assessment and tracking of student performance. CALM also represents an important starting point for collaboratively engaging high school science teachers and university faculty in improving the quality of science education across the nation.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Education funded a study to examine the effectiveness of CALM in promoting student chemistry achievement. The study, funded by the Institute for Education Sciences, is an opportunity for us to extend CALM’s reach to many more teachers and students than was previously possible.

Our goal with CALM is to impact the level of high school science education across the nation, using a tool and an approach that have been proven to work. We provide teachers with a webbased homework tool that requires students to focus on and develop their problem solving skills through dynamically randomized content. In addition, CALM is a collaborative tool that creates a network linking high school teachers both with each other and with university faculty, along with resources in higher education. It is through this network (the CALM Community) that the dissemination of high quality, standards-based/aligned material is possible.

Participation in the Study

We are seeking high school introductory chemistry teachers who have not previously implemented CALM in their classrooms to participate in this study. The study itself is an experimental design, where half of the teachers who volunteer to participate in a given year will be assigned to implement the online CALM tool in their Introductory Chemistry classrooms. We are asking that teachers use CALM and/or the CALM chemistry problems as a primary source of homework or applied practice for students, assigning students at least 10 questions from the CALM database per week. We are asking teachers to commit to participation for one term of Introductory Chemistry. We will be recruiting three cohorts of teachers–one during Year 1, Year 2, and Year 3 (the current year). Control group teachers will be invited to use the online CALM tool in their classrooms after their year of participation in the study.

The criteria for all teachers being selected to participate in the study include the following:

  • May not have previously used CALM in your own classroom nor other teachers at your school;
  • Plan to teach at least one Introductory Chemistry course during the 2011-2012 school year;
  • Commit to administering a standardized high school chemistry exam (provided by research team) at the end of the introductory chemistry class targeted for the study; and
  • Provide letter of support from your building administrator and gain permission from appropriate district and/or school supervisors to participate in the study.

Additional research activities for those who are selected to implement the online CALM tool (treatment group) include:

  • Attend a two-day workshop on CALM at Indiana University during June or July of the first year selected; and
  • Allow researchers to observe chemistry instruction, participate in on-site interviews, and have students participate in focus groups about the use of CALM (if selected).

Teachers will receive a stipend of $150.00 for the year they participate in the study. In addition, a travel stipend, which covers transportation, food, and lodging, will be provided for each teacher to attend the CALM training workshop in the summer prior to implementing CALM in the classroom.

For more information about CALM, you can find us online at: If you are interested in participating in this research study and implementing CALM in your classroom or have further questions, please contact us at:

Thank you for your interest in and willingness to participate in this important study. The deadline to respond is May 13.


Suzanne Branon
Graduate Research Assistant
Center for Evaluation and Education Policy Indiana University 1900 East Tenth Street Bloomington, Indiana 47406-7512

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.

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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:

Please contact Rosanne Luu at 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.