May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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 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.

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.