May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Service Organization or Consumer Organization?

Posted: Friday, October 1st, 2010

by Jeff Bradbury

Whenever there is a crisis or difficulty in my life it causes me to reflect on my priorities and my purpose in life.  I think that with our current “Great Recession,” many professional organizations, like CSTA, are asking deep questions about priority and purpose.  So often difficulty in life produces good changes.  CSTA is no different.  CSTA continues to put on the best science educators conference in the state.  I don’t think the economy has diminished our conference much at all.  Nevertheless, the economy is having a huge effect on CSTA’s budget and, maybe, even our future.  As a board member, this makes me reflect on our purpose and priorities.  It makes me consider why I joined CSTA in the first place.  Did I join CSTA to get something or to contribute something?  When I mail in my membership dues each year, do I ask, “What am I going to get out of this?” or do I ask, “What opportunities do I have to serve my fellow science educators?”  What do you ask when you join?

CSTA was founded in 1970 by a group of science educators just like you and me.  Believe me, it was not started by the state government of California.  These educators saw a need to give quality professional development to their peers.  They also saw the need to band together to support the causes of science education in the state.  CSTA was started because people like you and me saw a way they could contribute, in a very significant way, to how science is taught in the eighth largest economy in the world.

I remember my first CSTA conference as a fairly young teacher in 1993.  I drove with my best teacher friend from southeast Los Angeles County to San Jose.  It was the first time I had ever heard of using inquiry to teach science.  I remember watching with “wide eyes” some of the best in the business of science teaching talk about and demonstrate so many relevant topics.  My friend and I rewrote our entire science classes during the six-hour drive home.  It changed the way we have taught from that next Monday morning to this very day.  Also, that was the last conference we have attended without presenting or contributing in some way.

So difficult times lead to difficult questions.  Is CSTA a consumer organization that primarily provides goods and services to its members, a sort of Wal-Mart for science teachers?  Or is CSTA primarily a service organization that contributes collectively to the needs of the science education community and science education causes?  Why do you send that check in every year?

As a board member I get asked lots of “why questions” at the conference about CSTA.  Generally there are two different ways these questions get asked: “Hey, why do you guys at CSTA do such and such?”  Or, others ask this way, “Why do we do such and such?”  That change in one pronoun from you to we says a lot about our attitude towards the organization.  Do you see CSTA as a “they” organization or a “we” organization?  I think those original founders of CSTA saw themselves as stewards of science education.  Just as we want our students to see themselves as stewards of the earth, I want to encourage us to see ourselves as stewards of CSTA and stewards of science education in California.

I think we all got into science teaching because we want to make a difference in this world.  We want to leave the world in better shape, and that means more educated than when we got here.  This is the purpose of CSTA, to help each other produce an educated public.  But who is CSTA?  It is you and I; it is us.  And 40 years from now, I hope, it will be a different group of us. I think this next generation of young teachers really does want to make a positive difference.  I think, if presented with the challenge, the next generation will rise to the occasion and take the leadership of science education in California.

These are difficult days.  But CSTA will continue to provide quality publications like the journal and California Classroom Science, and put on the wonderful annual science education conference, if we decide that it is going to continue as an organization that serves each other.

So I want to encourage us to do three things.  First, keep our memberships active.  It is easy to say, “I live in southern California and I am not going to Sacramento so I will let my membership lapse.”  Our organization depends on all its members.  We all depend on each other whether we make the trek north or not.  Second, consider contributing by sending in a proposal to present at next year’s conference.  Your colleagues could benefit from your experience and knowledge.  Also, to contribute, you could write an article for CCS or run for a board member position.  Third, invite someone to join CSTA with you.  Maybe you could, together, make a drive to Sacramento or Pasadena that could forever change the way the next generation of students experiences science.

Jeff Bradbury is CSTA 2-Year College Director.

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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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. 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 California NGSS k-8 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

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:

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.