May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

STEM Education Forum Report

Posted: Thursday, December 1st, 2011

by Judythe Guarnera, adapted by Patricia Garrett

What do Lieutenant General Susan Helms, Commander of the 14th Air Force, Commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space at Vandenberg AFB and a former NASA astronaut have in common with high school student, Dustin W.?

Both presented at the Central Coast STEM Education Forum at the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education in Rancho El Chorro Outdoor Education School in San Luis Obispo, CA. ( in May.

Both spoke eloquently of the importance of collaboration and team work—the exact focus of the Central Coast STEM Education Forum, which brought together almost 100 educators, politicians, business men and women to collaborate on a working plan to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.  The goal of the Forum was in alignment with the mission of the California STEM Learning Network (CSLNet) (

That goal is to build a network of educators, business leaders, and other stakeholders committed to establishing the world’s best STEM Education system. This system will further the goal that all California students graduate from high school with STEM knowledge and skills required for success in postsecondary education, work and in their daily lives, and that more students will pursue STEM careers and degrees.

Please see for photos and video of General Helms presentation.

General Helms, when asked what was the most memorable part of being in space, related that the dynamics of launch and re-entry paled in comparison with the experience of living and working collaboratively with the microcosm of individuals who shared the area in the space station for six months   General Helms has had a lifetime of experience in science and education, hands on training and performance.

Dustin W. is at the very beginning of that process, but both emphasized the need for collaboration and teamwork. Dustin is a member of the Atascadero Greybots 2011 First Robotics World Championship team ( Dustin’s grasp of the importance of managing the personal inter-relationships within his team was an indicator of the dynamics that guided these young people to their success.  The vision of these young people as adults collaborating with others in a global economy is an exhilarating one.

After keynote speakers General Helms and Chris Roe, CEO, CA STEM Learning Network (CSLNet) and former Deputy Director, Business-Higher Education Forum, Washington D.C., spoke, the group spent time highlighting the myriad of STEM activities, projects and collaborations that is already in progress in San Luis Obispo County.  Brainstorming to identify key issues that need to be addressed and resolved led to a list of topics for break-out sessions.

Those individuals present aligned themselves with one of the sessions which seemed to best fit their expertise and ability to impact STEM education.  Eavesdropping on the discussions in these sessions was encouraging and enlightening.

The Central California STEM Collaborative (CC STEM Collaborative) is a proposed CSLNet Regional Alliance involving key stakeholders in STEM Education from two counties of Central California: San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.  The backbone of this cross-county alliance will be provided by strong pre-existing County Office of Education partnerships amongst these counties. In addition, representatives from higher education, informal education, community, and business from each county will participate actively in alliance efforts.

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.