September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

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.

Leave a Reply


CSTA Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

Updated 7:25 pm, Nov. 17, 2017

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 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.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.