September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

The Results Are in…Meet Your New Board Members

Posted: Monday, June 4th, 2012

CSTA is pleased to announce the results of the 2012-14 Board of Director elections. The winners of the election are below. CSTA thanks all candidates and members for their participation in the elections. The board members terms will be July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2014.

Heather Wygant – Treasurer

Heather has been teaching high school science for 14 years, primarily geology and environmental sciences. She has received numerous Teacher of the Year awards, including, most recently, the Northern California Geologic Society and the Pacific Section AAPG teach of the year awards. Heather has been active in CSTA since 2007 serving as the High School Director from 2008-2012. She is eager to continue on the Board in a new position as Treasurer.

I believe science education to be one of the most important in education, as it teaches critical thinking, analysis and improves the overall literacy of our youth. It also utilizes all of the other skills learned from Mathematics, English and History, incorporating them together to make a well-rounded member of society. Without these skills, we are not well equipped to excel in the 21st century. Science education should be discovery, hands-on, inquiry based, and using technology as often as possible to lead students to discover the world around them.

CSTA as an organization is extremely important to the science teachers in California. CSTA follows legislation in California that directly affects our students, the way we teach science and even how much science is mandated and in what grades. CSTA works to improve Science Education in California by working with legislators and the State School Board to improve Science Education. I fully support this, and want to continue to be a part of this organization to help improve Science Education in California.

Jeff Orlinsky – High School Director

Jeff has been teaching high school biology for the past 25 years. He currently teaches honors biology, AP biology, and earth science at Warren High School in Downey, CA. As the committee chair for the Assessment and Testing Committee in the California Teacher’s Association, he observed the development of the state standards and monitored state laws in the legislature. Jeff has been a California Science Education Conference presenter every year since 1992.

It is my goal to make science fun, entertaining and attainable for my students. Science is more than the vocabulary found in textbooks or tests. It is how we progress in society. Every day we learn a little more about our world and how it fits in the universe. Along the way, I hope to inspire some students to enter the field of science.

I believe my view of science and science education aligns very nicely with CSTA’s vision and goals. Scientific literacy is very important to me as I know it is to CSTA. I feel CSTA should be a critical player in the approval and development of science curriculum in the state of California, especially Kindergarten through eighth grade. Presently, in the elementary grades any science that is covered does not promote science inquiry and this has to change. I would like to make CSTA stronger by getting more science teachers involved. We must get our message to the science teachers in California before we do anything else.

Gregory Potter – Four-Year College Director

Gregory has been teaching at the university level for 12 years where his focus is on preparing multiple subject preservice teachers how to teach science. He is a Lifetime member of CSTA and is a member in good standing with NSTA and CMC. Gregory is strongly involved in the K-12 Alliance and has been involved in numerous science education projects in Northern California. He is a past Region 1 Director on the CSTA Board and has presented at many CSTA conferences.

Science education is often neglected in the curriculum of elementary schools, particularly during the primary grades. To achieve meaningful approaches to learning, teachers, as primary gatekeepers of early childhood education must be willing to include science in an already full curriculum that focuses intensely on literacy and mathematics. Science education should not be limited to simply increasing students’ knowledge of content, for there is a much broader and more important goal for K-12 science: the development of students as critical thinkers!

I see CSTA representation of science educators statewide as a vital role for the health of the state and education in general. Without CSTA, I am not sure who would advocate for meaningful science education reform. Another vital role CSTA provides is sponsorship of the California Science Education Conference. As we struggle during these tough economic times, it is important that we continue to support organization like CSTA while they fight the good fight. It is times like these that we need a CSTA more than ever!

Eric Lewis – Region 2 Director

Eric has been teaching in the Bay area since 1998 and for the past 5 years has been supporting high school science in the San Francisco Unified School District. Eric has received many grants and awards for his teaching, including the HP Technology for Teaching Grant, a What Kids Can Do Grant, and a Fulbright Memorial Fund Scholarship. Eric is a Lifetime member of CSTA and has served as Region 2 Director on the CSTA board for the past two years, representing CSTA at many conferences and resource fairs.

Science provides opportunities for students to develop critical thinking skills and the flexibility to think about information in different ways. As critical thinkers, students can become citizens that question the veracity of scientific claims—looking for evidence from multiple sources. Through scientific thinking, members of society can separate science from pseudoscience and can make decisions that are informed by scientific facts and not hearsay or popular beliefs.

CSTA is the leading organization for science education in California. I believe that CSTA must continue to advocate for the advancement of science in our legislature by tracking bills associated with science education and sponsoring new legislation should the need arise. I believe that the organization’s efforts so far are the reason that our state is in such a great place as the Next Generation Science Standards emerge and become part of the lives of science teachers across our state. I envision a future where CSTA can be even a larger resource for science teachers, utilizing new technologies to bring mentoring, professional development and resources to teachers across the state.

Jeanine Wulfenstein – Region 4 Director

Jeanine has been teaching science for 12 years. She currently teaches at Gardner Middle School in the Temecula Valley USD. She has served as a staff developer for the K-12 Alliance under the continuation of a California Math and Science Partnership grant. Jeanine has also served as a member of the district science curriculum adoption committee, a site GATE coordinator, a science department chair, a science club advisor, and an elementary science coach.

Quality science education is vital to our state’s success. In today’s world, students must be problem solvers in the workplace, champions for their own health, and advocates for the integrity of our planet. In the science classroom, an educator’s charge is to inspire students to wonder, question, research, and push the boundary to learn more about themselves and the world around them. As a community of science educators, our responsibility is to ensure quality instructional practices to support inquiry, problem solving, and communication skills vital to student success.

As a CSTA member, I am committed to scientific literacy for all students. Despite funding and political obstacles, CSTA must continue to be a collective voice for California science teachers. In these tumultuous times, it is imperative that we creatively continue to empower, inspire, and advocate for science education as a collective community. CSTA must continue to be a catalyst for educational innovation, sharing of best practices, problem solving, decision-making, and lobbying for legislation to support our shared vision.

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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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.