May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

State Science Education Updates

Posted: Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

by Laura Henriques

The start of a school year is always a busy time. This year has a great deal more energy around science education than we’ve seen in a long time. The adoption of new science standards has taken place, the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee has begun their work, a few thousand STEM education enthusiasts descended on San Diego for the STEM Symposium, NGSS State Rollout Symposiums are being conducted around the state, LCFF/LCAP legislation allows districts to support science professional development and science standards implementation, and the NSTA Regional Conference in Long Beach is just around the corner.  These are good times for science education in California! Read on to learn how CSTA is involved in these activities and how you too can be involved.

Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC)
The State Board of Education appointed a team of 20 science educators to serve on the Instructional Quality Commission’s Science CFCC. The team had their first meeting in September and will meet every month through February. The group reads drafts of chapters prior to arriving at the meeting. As a group they provide input for improvement. This process is open to the public and CSTA is attending these meetings and providing input into the process as allowed. Once the CFCC has provided its input, a draft will be released for a 60-day public review period in June-July 2015. The Science Subject Matter Committee (part of the IQC) will review public input and staff recommendations before a second public draft is released. This draft will also have a 60-day public review period (October/November 2015). CSTA’s NGSS Committee will be reviewing drafts of chapters as they are available and providing input as we are able through the public comment process of the CFCC meetings. (Click here for CSTA’s overview of the CFCC, timelines, and other information. See also CDE’s CFCC website

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2014 California STEM Symposium
The second California STEM Symposium was held in San Diego September 21-23. Approximately 3,000 STEM educators from around the state gathered to hear keynote addresses, participate in round table discussions and hands-on workshops. 100 of the attendees stopped by the CSTA booth to get their CSTA member ribbon. It was nice to see so many of you in person and we look forward to seeing you at other upcoming events in the state. Be sure to stop by the CSTA booth/table to get your member ribbon so you can show your CSTA pride! Check out their Dropbox site for handouts and presentations.

Next Generation Science Standards State Rollout Symposium #1
A collaboration between California Department of Education, California Science Project, K-12 Alliance/WestEd, Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee, and CSTA resulted in the development of a two-day NGSS workshop (part 1). To date, workshops have been held in San Joaquin County, Long Beach, Yucaipa and San Diego. There are three additional sets of dates to catch this workshop. Fresno (October 16-17), Oakland (October 20-21) and Redbluff (October 23-24). Teams from districts are encouraged to attend together. It would be ideal to bring an administrator and teacher leaders. Details about the events and registration information is available online. Find your CSTA representatives to get your CSTA member ribbon!

LCFF/LCAP Update
As we reported earlier, the Local Control Funding Formula and Local Control Accountability Plans call for districts to develop plans about how they will implement state adopted standards (all standards — including science). Money allocated under State Priority #2 enable schools to support science professional development. Be sure that you are part of the conversation when your school and district develop their plans so that what you need for successful implementation of NGSS gets included in the plan.

NSTA Regional Conference in Long Beach
End out 2014 with your science education colleagues in Long Beach! The NSTA Regional Conference (in collaboration with CSTA) will bring together thousands of science educators from California and beyond. There will be workshops, speakers, short-courses, field trips and a great exhibit hall. Check out the conference preview booklet and register now. Early bird prices expire on October 24th. CSTA (or NSTA) members save $90 on conference registration. Since CSTA membership only costs $50 that’s $40 in your pocket! In addition to all the NSTA events, there are three CSTA-hosted events and a CSTA Membership Meeting. Preconference field trips to Catalina and the San Andreas Fault take place on Wednesday December 3rd. The CSTA Night at the Aquarium of the Pacific NGSS Science & Engineering Showcase will highlight outstanding STEM/Engineering/NGSS instruction, speakers and time with the fish. All three of these are ticketed events (with discounts for CSTA members). The CSTA Membership Meeting & Awards Presentation will be Thursday 3:15-4:30 in the Long Beach Convention Center. This will include Steven Pruitt as the keynote speaker sharing the latest resources to support NGSS implementation. Stop by the CSTA booth to get your CSTA member ribbon, chat with Board Members, and learn about the October 2015 conference in Sacramento.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and past-president of CSTA. She serves as chair of CSTA’s Nominating Committee and is a co-chair of the NGSS Committee.

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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: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HappyAtoms

Please contact Rosanne Luu at rluu@wested.org 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.