September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Teachers in Space Offers Summer Opportunities for High-School Teachers

Posted: Sunday, May 1st, 2011

by Edward Wright

In the summer of 2011, Teachers in Space will offer a series of professional-development workshops for high-school science, technology, engineering, and math teachers. Developed in cooperation with NASA, the workshops will give teachers opportunities to fly in an unpowered aircraft with a former NASA Shuttle commander, learn to fly a flight simulator for the next generation of reusable spacecraft, study physiology in an altitude chamber, and build experiments that will fly on a suborbital vehicle. Workshops will take place in Florida, California, and Texas.

One of the cornerstones of the summer program is the Excelsior STEM mission, a historic opportunity for high-school STEM teachers to gain hands-on experience with space-science hardware. The Excelsior STEM mission will fly on a suborbital reusable launch vehicle (RLV) built and operated by Masten Space Systems, based at Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, CA.

Teachers will build experiments for the mission during a Suborbital Flight Experiment Workshop that will take place at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center’s AERO Institute in Palmdale, CA on August 1-5. NASA Ames Research Center is helping to develop educational experiment kits that teachers will assemble during the workshop.

In the past, build/fly workshops have enabled teachers and students to fly experiments on sounding rockets and high-altitude balloons. Unfortunately, those flight opportunities were rare and expensive. In the current era of space exploration, companies like Masten Space Systems are developing suborbital reusable launch vehicles — fully reusable rocketships — that will bring about a revolution in frequent, low-cost access to space.

Suborbital RLVs will provide reliable and affordable flight opportunities for scientists, teachers, and students. RLVs are still in the early stages of development, but Excelsior STEM will provide teachers with a unique early flight opportunity. By introducing teachers to the next generation of space hardware at this early stage, Excelsior STEM will opening the door for many more education flights in the future. In a few years, students flying space experiments will be as routine as high-school science fairs.

The Suborbital Astronautics Workshop, which will take place in three states including Texas. In this workshop, teachers will learn about aeronautics and spaceflight while experiencing first-hand some of the training that future space pilots will receive. Expert instructors will include former Shuttle commander and XCOR Aerospace chief test pilot Col. Rick Searfoss (USAF-ret.). Participating teachers will fly in a glider and learn to pilot a flight simulator for a suborbital spacecraft now under development by XCOR Aerospace. At the end of the workshop, teachers will receive a copy of the simulator software to take back to the classroom.

The Suborbital Astronautics Workshop will be held for the first time at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, TX on June 20-24 with repeat sessions at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL on July 18-22 and the AERO Institute in Palmdale, CA on July 25-29.

At the Space Medicine and Human Factors Workshop, teachers will learn about high-altitude physiology and respiration, decompression and vacuum exposure, space weather and radiation, and the effects of weightlessness, gee forces, noise, and vibration. The workshop will be held at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL on July 11-15.

Workshops are offered at no charge to participating teachers. Subsidized housing will be available for workshop participants at a cost of $14 per night. A limited number of travel stipends will be available to defray the cost of meals and transportation. Applications are due by April 15, but teachers are encouraged to apply early. The application period might end based on the number and quality of applications received.

Additional information and workshop applications can be found at: www.teachersinspace.org/workshops.htm.

Edward Wright is project manager for Teachers in Space and principal investigator for the Excelsior STEM mission.

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 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…

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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…

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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.