September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Sessions for All Grade Bands and Disciplines at NSTA Conference on Science Education in Long Beach

Posted: Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Here are some of the many exciting events you can expect at the NSTA Area Conference on Science Education in Long Beach this December 4–6:

Register today for the most savings! Our Earlybird Deadline ends October 24.  – Remember CSTA members: Select the “NSTA Affiliate Member Rate” when registering to save $90 on registration.

RegisterLong Beach Conference PreviewClick here to browse through all the scheduled sessions and make your schedule today! 
Check out some sessions below to help you get started on your daily schedule.

  • STEM in the Primary Classroom
  • Building a Community Classroom: Encouraging Students to Think Globally and Act Locally
  • From Food to Fuel: Recycling the Molecules of Life
  • Integrating the NGSS Practices Through Online Collaboration with Google
  • Using Case Studies to Promote Technical Literacy in an Anatomy and Physiology Class
  • The Apps That Launched STEAM Classrooms
  • Chemical Change and Stability: Kinetics and Equilibrium
  • Designing a Middle School Integrated NGSS Curriculum
  • Teach Engineering Principles on the Cheap with Concrete
  • NGSS, Close Reading, and Classroom Notebooking Practices

Julie Scardina


Julie Scardina @juliescardina
Naturalist, Author, SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Ambassador
San Diego, Calif.

The Balancing Act of Environmental Education: Removing the Fear But Keeping Reality

Having begun her career working with species ranging from sea lions and dolphins to killer whales, Julie currently serves many roles with SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, and Discovery Cove—from zoological corporate curator of animal ambassador programs and training to Animal Ambassador. She has traveled to conservation and environmental projects on all seven continents where she learns about issues firsthand and documents on film people and projects that are making a difference for animals. She has also co-authored the book Wildlife Heroes, focusing on 40 people who have committed their lives to preserving species and solving some of the planets most pressing environmental issues. Join Julie for a special presentation along with some “Animal Ambassadors.”


SheldonUsing the Past to Take Science Education into the Future
Myrna Perez Sheldon @SRCatHarvard
Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Rice University, Houston, Tex.

Why do we teach science in our public school classrooms? We do it because we believe that all students must understand the fundamentals of science in order to succeed in our modern world. But science is much more than a collection of facts about the natural world. If we want our students to have a deeper understanding of science and engineering, we must give them the tools to connect science to the subjects that engage the big questions—social studies, English, political science, and others. In this talk, Myrna Perez Sheldon tells us the power of connecting science education with the humanities, and shows us some of the newest and most innovative digital resources to do this!

PruittUsing the Tools of the NGSS to Support Quality Science Instruction
Stephen L. Pruitt @DrSPruitt
Senior Vice President, Achieve, Inc.

Stephen will provide updates on the various NGSS tools under development and how to use them with teachers to provide a deeper understanding of the NGSS.

The CSTA Annual Meeting and presentation of awards will precede Stephen Pruitt’s presentation.

TaylorSTEM the New Normal! Really When Did That Happen?
Nancy Taylor
Principal Investigator, Exploring STEM Careers
San Diego State University, San Diego, Calif.

Join Nancy for a frank conversation about how this acronym “STEM” has flooded all channels of education reform and for a status report from the field—K-12 classrooms and extended learning time. It’s a transformational time in U.S. education! Society has an insatiable demand for STEM integration and programming while the NGSS and CCSS are driving the redesign of learning progressions. How quickly is this transformation of the school day expected to spring into action and what are the implications? Integrated STEM experiences are building capacity and quality; let’s explore the practices, the partnerships, and possibilities for the new normal.

BeauchampThe Central Role of Dialogue in the Sense-making Classroom
Arthur Beauchamp
Interim Director of the Sacramento Area Science Project and Senior Director of Professional Learning Systems, School of Education, University of California–Davis

The NGSS and CCSS ask for a shift toward more sense making by students in STEM classrooms. Dialogue is one of our main methods of processing information, making sense of things, and advancing understanding. Dialogue is also an important support for student writing, and both neuroscience and psychology point to the importance of dialogue in learning. Join Arthur as he discusses how we might make better use of dialogue as a learning tool in our classrooms.

HayesFrom Silent Spring to Silent Night: A Tale of Toads and Men
Tyrone Hayes
University of California: Berkeley, CA

Join Dr. Tyrone B. Hayes as he shares his amphibian research. Two main areas of interest are metamorphosis and sex differentiation as well as examining growth (larval and adult) and hormonal regulation of aggressive behavior. A few of the amphibians he has studied include local toads, the African clawed frog, the Japanese kajika frog, and the field tree frog.

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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California Science Assessment Update

Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

by Jessica Sawko

In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.

At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at 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.

Some ways to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in your classroom

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

by Carol Peterson

1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. 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.

2016 Award Recipients – Join CSTA in Honoring Their Accomplishments

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference  on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!

Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award

John Keller

John Keller

The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” 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.

NGSS: Making Your Life Easier

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Peter A’hearn

Wait… What?

NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?

The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Celestial Highlights, September 2016

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt 

Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. 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.