May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Students Need YOU!

Posted: Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

by Dena Deck, M.Ed. & Sharon Snyder

Editor’s note: You read about the value of science fairs to students in the March issue (this article was updated this month with an infographic). This article shares information about the biggest science fair around! If you are in the LA area you might want to stop by to see the exciting things our students are doing. If you have a day to donate, consider volunteering. Just as students need support to get to this level of science and engineering, the Science Fair needs lots of help to be successful.

The Intel® International Science and Engineering Fair® (Intel ISEF) is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. It occurs annually and provides a forum for more than 1,600 high school students from over 70 countries, regions, and territories to showcase their independent research and compete for more than $4 million in awards.

Today, millions of students worldwide compete each year in local and school-sponsored science fairs; the winners of these events go on to participate in Intel ISEF-affiliated regional and state fairs from which the best win the opportunity to attend Intel ISEF. The event unites these top young scientific minds, showcasing their talent on an international stage, enabling them to submit their work to judging by doctoral-level scientists. The Intel ISEF is the premier global science competition for students in grades 9–12 and the work submitted is astounding. For example in 2012, Maryland high school sophomore Jack Andraka won the Gordon E. Moore award of $75,000 at the Intel ISEF. At age 15 he had invented an inexpensive but sensitive dipstick-like sensor for the rapid, early detection of pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancers!

Success relies upon a whole community coming together. In many cases the experience of talking with a scientist or engineer who is reviewing a project helps to shape a student’s future research.  For students traveling from other cities or countries, having a friendly face to meet them at the airport or stand by their side to help translate an unfamiliar word or phrase empowers them to present to the best of their ability.  The experience allows you, the volunteer, the opportunity to travel alongside and learn about their efforts and home as well as be part of a tremendous region-wide team that applauds youth initiatives long and loud.  These students will be finding the solutions we may never have even dreamed of and you can help that happen. Your expertise will be especially appreciated on Outreach Day, May 15th. On that day we will guide 5,000 Los Angeles students through a scenario as they apply science skills and content knowledge to determine which lake to protect.  Volunteers will be instrumental in using microscopes, doing water quality analysis and biological surveys.

Other volunteer opportunities include, but are not limited to:

Friday, May 9 from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – bag stuffing for finalists, attendees, outreach participants, teachers and judges (12,500 total)

Saturday, May 10 and Sunday, May 11– Airport greeters at LAX

Sunday, May 11 and Monday, May 12 – Registration

Tuesday, May 13 – Registration in the A.M.

Wednesday, May 14 – Interpreters in over 20 languages (mostly Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Mandarin and Portuguese)

Thursday, May 15, as mentioned above – Outreach Day

All volunteer opportunities are at the Los Angeles Convention Center, unless otherwise stated.  Volunteers will receive a meal for every shift over 4 hours, free parking, a t-shirt, and a certificate.  They will also receive the total number of hours contributed (if desired) and an electronic badge.

The evening of Monday, May 12 is like an Olympics Opening Ceremony.  Each country will have finalists representing them by running up on stage with a poster depicting their country’s highlights.  This is a high-energy show with an audience of about 4,500 people.

Nobel Laureates. Students will have the opportunity to interact with Nobel Laureates on Tuesday during the Excellence in Science and Technology panel from 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Volunteers like you, who already have a commitment to education and sciences, are greatly needed! Whether it’s for a 4-hour shift, or for to the entire week, you can help. For more information and/or to sign up, go to:

Volunteer: Click here

Judging: Click here.  More than 1,000 judges are needed in 17 scientific disciplines. Judging is the single most important event of the Intel ISEF for finalists and is, in the words of recent judge, “Judging was one of the most personally challenging, educational and rewarding experiences I have had in some time. These are truly amazing people!” And from another, “I cannot emphasize enough what a fantastic experience this science fair is for students and judges alike.

Video: Click here

Dena Deck is an alumnus of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Teacher at Sea Program, and a CSTA Member.  Sharon Snyder is Manager of International Fairs and Volunteer Recruitment for the Society for Science & the Public

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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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.