May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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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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.