State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Congratulates Two California Science and Math Teachers Receiving Presidential Honors
Posted: Monday, February 3rd, 2014
SACRAMENTO—On January 14, 2014, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson congratulated two outstanding California educators recently named by President Barack Obama as recipients of the 2012 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) award. They are among 102 teachers to receive this recognition.
The California science winner is Alma Suney Park, a sixth grade teacher at Eastside College Preparatory School, a private school in East Palo Alto, San Mateo County. The California mathematics winner is Jamie Garner, a sixth grade mathematics teacher at the Walnut Elementary Education Center in the Turlock Unified School District, Stanislaus County.
“These teachers play key roles in encouraging and inspiring their students with not only their expertise, but their talent and dedication,” said Torlakson, a longtime science teacher. “They are teaching students who could very well become the next generation of scientists and engineers our country so urgently needs.”
The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching— the highest honor bestowed by the United States government specifically for K-12 mathematics and science teaching—is awarded annually to outstanding teachers from across the country, Puerto Rico, Department of Defense Education Activity schools, and the U.S. territories. Since the program’s inception in1983, more than 4,200 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession.
The winners are selected by a panel of scientists, mathematicians, and educators following an initial nomination process done at the state level. Each year, the award alternates between teachers of kindergarten through sixth grade and those teaching seventh through the twelfth grades. The recently named awardees teach kindergarten through sixth grade.
Winners of the presidential honor receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation to be used at their discretion. They also are invited to Washington, DC, for an awards ceremony and several days of educational and celebratory events, including visits with members of Congress and the Obama administration. The educators will receive their awards at a Washington, DC, event later this year.
Early this year, Torlakson announced California’s nominations for the 2013 awards. Nominations for the 2014 PAEMST are open through April 1, 2014. For more information about PAEMST, please visit the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching Web site.
Alma Suney Park is a sixth grade teacher at Eastside College Preparatory School, where she has worked since 2005. Originally from Illinois, Park has 13 years of prior teaching, eight of which have been in California. She possesses credentials from Illinois, California, and Michigan. She has a background in the biological sciences and focuses her teaching strategies around problem solving, conceptual understanding, and addressing real-world problems. She has worked with the Teaching Channel to create demonstration lessons for the Common Core State Standards. She has piloted a youth philanthropy project (Project Give) focused on environmental science and climate change. Her video lesson featured an investigation on climate change that capped a unit of study on global warming. She holds degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan.
Jamie Garner teaches at a mathematics and science magnet school where all subjects are taught through the lens of those disciplines. Her classroom features hands-on, project-based learning activities. She leads a special elective class on “future cities,” where students are given the opportunity to generate model cities that could exist 150 years in the future. Garner also provides intensive, after-school instruction for students who may be struggling in mathematics. She is a regional coordinator for PI Day (a day to celebrate the value and contributions of mathematics to society). Her video focused on a geometry lesson determining the surface area of three-dimensional solids. Garner has a bachelor of arts, summa cum laude, in liberal studies and a master’s of education, with distinction, in curriculum and instruction from California State University, Stanislaus
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 http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/infomeeting.asp.) Learn More…
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. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
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
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…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
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…
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…