July/August 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 8

Teachers Reach for the Stars to Teach Science

Posted: Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

by Donna Ross

During the recent annual CSTA conference in Pasadena I had the opportunity to participate in the field course to NASA’s Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale.  We learned about SOFIA, a joint project between NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR).  Perhaps most importantly, we learned that the deadline for the next round of educators to partner with scientists on SOFIA flights is November 15.

SOFIA is the largest airborne observatory in the world.  It has a 2.5 meter diameter reflecting telescope (approximately the size of the Hubble telescope) mounted in a modified 747SP airplane.  The plane has a side port that opens during flight to allow the telescope to be used for approximately 8 hours.  On the field course, we were able to tour the airplane and see the modifications.  When the interior modifications are finished, there will even be a work area specifically for educators participating on the flights.   The plane flies at approximately 42,000 feet, above 99% of the water vapor in the earth’s atmosphere. This allows it to make observations that even larger ground-based telescopes are unable to make.  It has advantages over space-based telescopes, too, in that it can be easily moved to view specific objects and inexpensively returned to earth for repairs or upgrades.

SOFIA studies the universe in the infrared spectrum.  This is particularly useful for exploring the formation of new stars and solar systems and for looking through clouds of dust in space.  In addition, it can explore organic compounds in space.  Because the plane lands after each flight, the instruments can be changed to meet the needs of the specific research of the scientists on a particular flight.  Full operations should begin next year with over 120 flights per year for up to 20 years.

During the field course, we met one of the teachers who went on a SOFIA flight.  She shared how she incorporates the experience into her teaching.  She said that one of the most important aspects for her class was the ability to help her students feel proud of the local connection to internationally-known science.  She filmed clips of many different employees who work on the project during her flight and she uses those videos to encourage her students to consider careers that use math and science.

For me, the most exciting part of the field course was the impression that everyone on the SOFIA project was committed to science education.  From the beginning, the design of SOFIA incorporated a plan for educators to connect with current science findings.  There are opportunities for graduate students, teachers, and informal educators to partner with scientists on flights.  In addition, there are outreach programs, such as the field course for CSTA members.

The Educator Ambassador program partners two educators from the same area with scientists for SOFIA flights.  Detailed information can be found on the SOFIA website.  Generally as part of the program, teachers fly on two overnight missions, participate in pre- and post-flight trainings, communicate with scientists, develop a plan to integrate the SOFIA materials into teaching, plan and implement outreach, and take an on-line astronomy course.  The teams must include one full-time science teacher grades 6-12.  The other partner may be a formal or informal educator from the same school or community.  The two educators work on the same outreach plan.  Application information is available on the website.  Applications are due by November 15.

Airborne Astronomy Ambassador Program: http://www.seti.org/epo/SOFIA.

Donna Ross is associate professor of science education at San Diego State University and is CSTA’s 4-year college director.


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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  1. […] event featured over 150 workshops, exhibitors, Short Courses, and exciting Field Courses to Dryden Air Force Base to tour SOFIA, Caltech, JPL, and the LA Museum of Natural History. Friday evening featured the Cheesy Science […]

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CTC Seeking Educators for Science Standard Setting Conference

Posted: Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) and Evaluation Systems group of Pearson are currently seeking California science educators to participate in a Science Standard Setting Conference for the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) program. Each standard setting panel is scheduled to meet for one-day, in Sacramento, California. The fields and dates are listed below:

Multiple Subjects Subtest II (Science), Monday, October 2, 2017
Science Subtest II: Physics, Monday, October 2, 2017
Science Subtest II: Chemistry, Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Science Subtest II: Life Sciences, Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Science Subtest II: Earth and Space Sciences, Thursday, October 5, 2017
Science Subtest I: General Science, Friday, October 6, 2017

The purpose of the conference is for panel members to make recommendations that will be used, in part, by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) in setting the passing standard, for each field, in support of the updated California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET).

Click here to nominate educators. If you are interested in participating yourself, complete an application here for consideration.

Eligibility:

Public school educators who are:

• Certified in California
• Currently practicing (or have practiced within the last school year) in one or more of the fields listed above. 

College faculty who are:

• Teacher preparation personnel (including education faculty and arts and sciences faculty)
• Practicing (or have practiced within the last school year) in one or more of the fields listed above, and
• Preparing teacher candidates in an approved California teacher preparation program.

 Benefits of Participation Include:
• Receive substitute reimbursement for their school (public school educators only),
• Have the opportunity to make a difference in California teacher development and performance,
• Have the opportunity for professional growth and collaboration with educators in their field,
• Be reimbursed for their travel and meal expenses, and
• Be provided with hotel accommodations, if necessary.

For more information, visit their website at www.carecruit.nesinc.com/cset/index.asp

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.

CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.