November/December 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 2

“Teachers in Space” Becomes “Citizens in Space”

Posted: Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Teachers in Space, a nonprofit program that seeks to put large numbers of astronaut teachers into American classrooms, is undergoing major changes. Teachers in Space is now becoming “Citizens in Space.” The new name indicates a new emphasis on citizen science as well as citizen spaceflight.

The United States Rocket Academy created Teachers in Space to allow large numbers of teachers to fly in space and return to the classroom. Teachers in Space acquired a contract for 10 space flights with one of the new suborbital companies — Mojave, California-based XCOR Aerospace. This contract represents the largest single bulk purchase of suborbital flights to date. Teachers in Space also selected its first Pathfinder astronaut candidates. These astronaut candidates are already training with instructors such as former Space Shuttle command and XCOR Aerospace chief test pilot Col. Rick Searfoss (USAF-ret.).

As we developed Teachers in Space, the United States Rocket Academy received public feedback calling for a broader, more inclusive program. That feedback included numerous requests from private, religious, and home-school teachers, informal educators, and others.

At the same time, we realized that new technological developments are making it possible for private citizens to become involved in the scientific process. More and more, the professional scientific community is recognizing the importance of contributions made by citizen scientists. Citizen scientists are now discovering exoplanets and dinosaurs, monitoring climate and endangered species, and helping to map the human genome.

The United States Rocket Academy believes the development of low-cost reusable suborbital spacecraft will be the next great enabler, allowing citizens to participate in space exploration and space science.

Citizens have told us that education is not just a process that occurs within the public schools. Science fairs, hackerspaces, museums, as well as public, private, religious, and home schools all have a role to play.

The United States Rocket Academy is listening to those citizens by creating a more inclusive program that will allow teachers, students, informal educators, and others to become citizen scientists and citizen astronauts.

We still want to put a thousand astronaut teachers into American schools, but we also want to engage America’s students and reach out to the public through museums, science centers, and other venues. We want to make space research and space exploration part of the mainstream, not treasures locked away in the ivory tower.

When Apollo 12 commander Pete Conrad was asked what it was like to fly in space, he said, “Everybody should go!” We agree.

Citizens in Space will soon announce a new Pathfinder program for teachers and others who want to become citizen astronaut candidates.

Space is not just the final frontier. It’s the citizen-science frontier.

The latest details can be found on our website at www.citizensinspace.org.

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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Apply to Join Achieve’s Science Peer Review Panel

Posted: Friday, December 15th, 2017

Achieve is excited to announce the expansion of the Science Peer Review Panel!

Achieve’s Science Peer Review Panel (“Science PRP”) is an elite group of educators who work to evaluate and share high-quality lesson sequences and units that are designed for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Members of the Science PRP are part of the solution to a persistent problem in the science education field: not enough examples of high-quality instructional materials designed for the NGSS.

Join the Science PRP by filling out this online application and connect with a network of educators across the country committed to advancing science education for all students, develop your expertise in the NGSS, and work to make better science instructional materials more widely available to the science education field. This opportunity includes free, valuable professional learning experiences designed to deepen your understanding of the NGSS and the evaluation process for 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.

Priority Features of NGSS-Aligned Instructional Materials

Posted: Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

Recommendations for Publishers, Reviewers, and Educators. The California Science Teachers Association and the science teachers associations of three other Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) west-coast states, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, have co-authored a white paper on priority features of NGSS instructional materials. This is the first time our states have collaborated to convey a common vision on an issue of great importance for the implementation of the NGSS. We understand all too well that for meaningful shifts to happen and to support the full vision of the NGSS, strong K-12 Instructional materials are required. 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 Board Moves Forward Two Key Pieces Supporting CA NGSS Implementation

Posted: Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

CSTA President Jill Grace provides public comment at the November 8, 2017, California State Board of Education meeting.

On November 8, 2017, the California State Board of Education (SBE) took action on two items of import relating to the implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS). One item was relating to the California Science Test (CAST) and the other to instructional materials. CSTA provided both written and oral comments on both items along with providing input on what CSTA and many other advocates view as a critical component of our state’s emerging accountability system – student access to a broad course of study. 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 – Early Attempts and Later Reflections from an Early Implementer Teacher

Posted: Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

by Christa Dunkel

  • There are so many acronyms! Where do I start?
  • What “baby step” should I take first? 
  • How can I make this happen in my elementary classroom?

All of these thoughts and more swam through my head over three years ago when I began my journey into NGSS. I was fresh from a week-long institute with the K-12 Alliance as part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. Much of the week was spent on digging into the NGSS architecture – how the standards are set-up, how to read the standards, what each of the three dimensions meant. Now that I knew how to read them, I needed to figure out how to implement them into my classroom of 24 eight-year-olds. With some guidance from the K-12 Alliance leaders and my own district-level NGSS team, I began the process with some easy “baby steps.” 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.

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.