January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

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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Accelerating into NGSS – A Statewide Rollout Series Now Accepting Registrations

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Are you feeling behind on the implementation of NGSS? Then Accelerating into NGSS – the Statewide Rollout event – is right for you!

If you have not experienced Phases 1-4 of the Statewide Rollout, or are feeling behind with the implementation of NGSS, the Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout will provide you with the greatest hits from Phases 1-4!

Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout is a two-day training geared toward grade K-12 academic coaches, administrators, curriculum leads, and teacher leaders. Check-in for the two-day rollout begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast. Sessions run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Day One and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Day Two.

Cost of training is $250 per attendee. Fee includes all materials, continental breakfast, and lunch on both days. It is recommended that districts send teams of four to six, which include at least one administrator. Payment can be made by check or credit card. If paying by check, registration is NOT complete until payment has been received. All payments must be received prior to the Rollout location date you are attending. Paying by credit card secures your seat at time of registration. No purchase orders accepted. No participant cancellation refunds.

For questions or more information, please contact Amy Kennedy at akennedy@sjcoe.net or (209) 468-9027.



MARCH 28-29, 2018
Host: San Mateo County Office of Education
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

APRIL 10-11, 2018
Host: Orange County Office of Education
Location: Brandman University, Irvine

MAY 1-2, 2018
Host: Tulare County Office of Education
Location: Tulare County Office of Education, Visalia

MAY 3-4, 2018
Host: San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools
Location: West End Educational Service Center, Rancho Cucamonga

MAY 7-8, 2018
Host: Sacramento County Office of Education
Location: Sacramento County Office of Education Conference Center and David P. Meaney Education Center, Mather

JUNE 14-15, 2018
Host: Imperial County Office of Education
Location: Imperial Valley College, Imperial

Presented by the California Department of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association/County Offices of Education, K-12 Alliance @WestEd, California Science Project, and the California Science Teachers Association.

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.

The Teaching and Learning Collaborative, Reflections from an Administrator

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

by Kelly Patchen

My name is Mrs. Kelly Patchen, and I am proud to be an elementary assistant principal working in the Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) at Louis Bohn and McKinley Elementary Schools. Each of the schools I support are Title I K-5 schools with about 450 students, a diverse student population, a high percentage of English Language Learners, and students living in poverty. We’re also lucky to be part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative with the K-12 Alliance. 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.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

Posted: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

CSTA is pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals for 90-minute workshops and three- and six-hour short courses for the 2018 California Science Education Conference. Workshops and short courses make up the bulk of the content and professional learning opportunities available at the conference. In recognition of their contribution, members who present a workshop or short course receive 50% off of their registration fees. Click for more information regarding proposals, or submit one today by following the links below.

Short Course Proposal

Workshop Proposal 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.

CSTA’s New Administrator Facebook Group Page

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Holly Steele

The California Science Teachers Association’s mission is to promote high-quality science education, and one of the best practice’s we use to fulfill that mission is through the use of our Facebook group pages. CSTA hosts several closed and moderated Facebook group pages for specific grade levels, (Elementary, Middle, and High School), pages for district coaches and science education faculty, and the official CSTA Facebook page. These pages serve as an online resource for teachers and coaches to exchange teaching methods, materials, staying update on science events in California and asking questions. CSTA is happy to announce the creation of a 6th group page called, California Administrators Supporting Science. 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: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

Find Your Reason to Engage

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Jill Grace

I was recently reflecting on events in the news and remembered that several years ago, National Public Radio had a story about a man named Stéphane Hessel, a World War II French resistance fighter, Nazi concentration camp survivor, and contributor to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The story focused on a book he had published, Time for Outrage (2010).

In it, Hessel makes the argument that the worst attitude is indifference:

“Who is in charge; who are the decision makers? It’s not always easy to discern. We’re not dealing with a small elite anymore, whose actions we can clearly identify. We are dealing with a vast, interdependent world that is interconnected in unprecedented ways. But there are unbearable things all around us. You have to look for them; search carefully. Open your eyes and you will see. This is what I tell young people: If you spend a little time searching, you will find your reasons to engage. The worst attitude is indifference. ‘There’s nothing I can do; I get by’ – adopting this mindset will deprive you of one of the fundamental qualities of being human: outrage.  Our capacity for protest is indispensable, as is our freedom to engage.”

His words make me take pause when I think of the status of science in the United States. A general “mistrust” of science is increasingly pervasive, as outlined in a New Yorker article from the summer of 2016. 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.