September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

The Exploratorium Offers Complimentary Field Trip Admissions for California Title I Public School Students

Posted: Friday, October 11th, 2013

PG&E-sponsored program aims to reach more than 60,000 underserved students by 2016

The Exploratorium and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) on October 10, 2013 announced a partnership to give California Title I schools the opportunity to visit the hands-on museum of science, art, and human perception for free through the Free Admission Program. Title I is a federal program that provides funding to local school districts to improve the academic achievement of students who are underserved and often underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields. Since registration opened in May 2013, over 45 Title I schools have signed up to visit the Exploratorium as part of the Free Admission Program. The program will run through August 2016, and will potentially reach more than 60,000 Title I students.

The PG&E-sponsored Free Admission Program officially launched on October 3, 2013, with approximately 300 Title I students from around the Bay Area visiting the Exploratorium on field trips. Over 3,000 Title I students registered to visit in the month of October from all over California. The students were able to experiment with the Exploratorium’s 600+ exhibits, as well as tinker, take apart, and create in the museum’s Tinkering Studio. Students in attendance at the celebratory kick-off day were greeted by PG&E’s mascot “Helmet” and treated to special solar car races and souvenirs, all made possible by PG&E.

The PG&E-sponsored Free Admission Program at the Exploratorium is part of the museum’s collaboration with leading businesses to identify tools to support STEM education. “A robust STEM learning ecosystem in California is a powerful driver for the community, business and state,” said Dennis M. Bartels, PhD., Executive Director of the Exploratorium and educational policy expert. “PG&E’s support for free field trips for all California Title I schools is one significant driver of this critical ecosystem. It is so important to get students engaged in science at a young age – and that’s what we will accomplish with this program.”

“At PG&E, technology and engineering play such a large role in helping us provide safe, reliable, affordable and clean energy to our customers,” said Wendy Fukamaki, PG&E’s manager of sponsorships and programs. “We are proud to provide California students with the opportunity to fully experience everything the Exploratorium has to offer, including inspiring their interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

To plan a Free Admission Program field trip to the Exploratorium for your Title I school, teachers may register online at  For additional information about field trips and other Exploratorium programs, please visit

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), and the PG&E Corporation Foundation strive to power strong communities throughout Northern and Central California. In 2012, PG&E contributed more than $23 million to more than 1,500 charitable organizations, including matching the generosity of employees who donated more than $6 million and volunteered more than 41,000 hours to company-supported events. Community investments are funded entirely by the company’s shareholders. For more information, visit

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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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.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw


This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.