September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Thank You and Farewell

Posted: Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

by Tim Williamson

It’s hard to believe that two years have gone by so quickly!  As my presidency comes to a close, I would like to reflect on a few of the challenging issues that we have faced, and say thank you to some wonderful people who have helped me along this fast-paced, ever-changing, and incredible journey.

Unfortunately, as most of you know, the downturn of the economy did not spare us. As a result, CSTA has gone through some structural and financial transitions over the past two years. With the help of our experienced and knowledgeable executive director, Christine Bertrand, your CSTA Board of Directors took on the difficult task of balancing our budget during these severe economic times.  We carefully examined our income and expenditures and made some serious decisions that allowed us to balance-out the budget during these trying times.  After a complete overhaul of our publications structure, going all electronic, we were able to eliminate a big part of our expenditures. We also decided to restructure our administrative staff, again to save some money and bring our budget more in-line with our income. This task was made much less difficult by the unfortunate, yet anticipated, retirement of our wonderful executive director of 15 years, Christine Bertrand.  A very dedicated and effective search/transition committee consisting of Rick Pomeroy, Dean Gilbert, Meg Burke, Christine Bertrand, and me began this restructuring process by discussing the pros and cons of reducing number of office staff personnel. It was decided to eliminate an office position and promote our existing staff members. Jessica Sawko was promoted to the executive director position and Connie Morrill was promoted to manager of programs and membership.  There were many other “belt tightening”, cost saving measures, all resulting in a balanced budget with our reserves remaining at required percentages. I would like to extend my deepest appreciation to Christine, Jessica, Connie, my search/transition committee, and all of the board members for their contributions in keeping the California Science Teacher’s Association strong and financially viable. We couldn’t have done it without everyone’s cooperation.

The members of CSTA’s Board of Directors are some of the most hard-working and dedicated people I have ever had the privilege to work with. These people are volunteers and receive no compensation for their hard work. I would personally like to thank them all for their time, expertise and thorough work ethic. This group is the machine that makes things happen for you, the CSTA members.

Our CSTA office staff, consisting of Jessica Sawko, Executive Director and Connie Morrill, Manager of Programs and Membership, is the backbone of our organization. They quickly adapted to their new positions and made what could have been a very difficult transition a very smooth one. A huge thank you to both of them for putting up with my bothersome phone calls and incessant emails. We are so lucky to have you both!

And finally, my heartfelt thanks to you, the CSTA members. Your continued support through your dues, conference attendance, volunteering, and outstanding science teaching to California’s youth helps keep the California Science Teacher’s Association one of the finest, effective, and influential state content associations in the US.

So, as of July 1, 2011, I pass the torch to Rick Pomeroy. His tenacity, determination, and just plain old hard work will allow CSTA to continue to thrive, even during these difficult economic times. Have a wonderful summer break and enjoy some well deserved R&R. You’ve earned it!

Written by Tim Williamson

Tim Williamson is a science methods instructor at CSU Long Beach and is a member and past-president of CSTA.

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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.