September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

The Molecularium® Project and NanoSpace® Ready to Use Tools for the New School Year

Posted: Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

by Patrice Harris

Despite what many believe, the summer break is not all play for educators. We understand that you begin planning for fall now. As you develop your curriculum for the upcoming year, we encourage you to explore Rensselaer’s Molecularium® Project and its interactive website, NanoSpace®. The project was created by world-renowned scientists at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Nanotechnology Center.

Teachers across the country have already incorporated the media of Rensselaer’s Molecularium Project and NanoSpace into their classrooms and have received an enthusiastic response from students. Why? NanoSpace helps to not only engage and excite students, but improves their ability to comprehend complex subject matter. “I found NanoSpace – Molecules to the MAX! to be both educational and entertaining. It introduced my students to the world of atoms and molecules through kid friendly characters; Oxy, Hydra, and Mel, the molecularium computer,” stated Laurie Brennan, a science teacher from the Lester School in Downers Grove, Illinois.

NanoSpace features more than 25 games and activities in an amusement park setting. NanoSpace entices visitors with colorful animations and eye-catching designs, while challenging visitors to try and beat the clock in “Periodic Memory Game” and click-and-drag atoms to construct molecules in “Build’em.” The games and activities address topics including, Molecule Building, States of Matter, Electron Scales, Size Scales, Materials and DNA.

NanoSpace brings back characters who were introduced in RPI’s giant-screen animated adventure Molecules to the MAX!, including Oxy, an inquisitive oxygen atom and the intrepid captain of the Molecularium ship; and Hydra, an enthusiastic hydrogen atom who is curious about everything. A DVD of Molecules to the MAX! will be available soon!

The Educators  section on the Molecularium Project website provides free, downloadable in-depth guides for teachers to implement in their classrooms. Fun, interactive and educational lesson plans, activities utilizing common, every day materials and fun facts, make it easy and turn-key for teachers to plan for class segments on atoms and molecules. The guides even include worksheets and are easy to print from downloadable PDFs for specific grade levels. Three guides are available:

  • The Molecularium Project Teachers Resource Guide (grades K-4)
  • Molecules to the MAX! Educators Resource Guide (grades 5-8)
  • Guide to NanoSpace

Please take some time to check out the free resources offered through Rensselaer’s Molecularium Project and NanoSpace. We encourage you to implement something new and exciting in your classroom by trying out these wonderful educational tools.

There is a very brief survey  where we hope you will provide your feedback. It only takes a minute or two of your valuable time! Enjoy the summer and thank you for your dedication to making science fun for kids!

Patrice Harris is a consultant with the Communication Strategies Group, Inc.

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.

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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.