September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

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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California Science Assessment Update

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 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.

Some ways to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in your classroom

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. 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.

2016 Award Recipients – Join CSTA in Honoring Their Accomplishments

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

John Keller

John Keller

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…

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.

NGSS: Making Your Life Easier

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Peter A’hearn

Wait… What?

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…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Celestial Highlights, September 2016

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…

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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.