September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

The Search Is Over, Full Speed Ahead!

Posted: Friday, April 1st, 2011

by Tim Williamson

When Christine Bertrand, our wonderful executive director, announced her retirement last fall, I appointed a search/transition committee to fulfill the difficult task of replacing her. The committee members were Rick Pomeroy (chair), Dean Gilbert, Meg Burke, and I. We spent numerous hours discussing the restructuring of our CSTA office in Sacramento and finding a new executive director. Included in these discussions were the financial stability of the association (past, present, and future), the number of staff members needed to meet the present and future needs of the association, and of course, the qualifications and responsibilities of a new executive director. Our search began in the most obvious of places, the CSTA office.  We have two remaining staff members in our office who are dedicated and responsible, with an excellent work ethic and a vast knowledge of CSTA policy and structure.  Why then would we consider hiring an executive director externally with little or no knowledge of the inner workings of CSTA?  After much discussion and number crunching by the search/transition committee the decision was obvious. The committee made the following recommendations to the board of directors…

  • Restructure the office staff by reducing the number of employees in the CSTA office from three to two and promote Jessica Sawko, the program manager, to the position of executive director of the California Science Teachers Association, effective April 1, 2011.
  • Promote Connie Morrill, the office manager,  to the position of manager of programs and member services effective April 1, 2011.
  • Consider hiring outside consultants for conference marketing and legislative matters when these responsibilities cannot be met by board members, conference committee members, and/or staff.

The board unanimously approved all of these motions!  Consequently we were able to maintain our two excellent employees and offer them much deserved promotions.

Since these two staff members do much of their work behind the scenes I thought I would share with you some of their background information.  This will give all of you a chance to get to know them better.

Jessica Sawko has worked as the program manager of the California Science Teachers Association since August 2006. As a part of her role she worked with the conference committees to plan the 2006 – 2011 California Science Education Conferences. Prior to CSTA she worked in the meetings department of the Pharmacy Foundation of California. She moved to the Sacramento area in 2001 after serving two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama. She holds a master of sciences in health science (M.S.H.S.) degree and a B.A. in economics. She grew up in San Diego, CA and Tampa, FL. In her free time, Jessica enjoys spending time with her husband Dave and their son Connor, playing co-ed, recreational softball, and reading.

Connie Morrill has been with CSTA for nearly four years serving as our membership coordinator, conference registrar, and office manager.  Connie is the “face” of CSTA at conferences and the go-to person for all things having to do with the administration of CSTA.  Connie has a background in finance and banking and previously served as office manager for a wedding entertainment company where she handled everything from accounting to coordinating the production of weddings and other special events.

Although she grew up in California, she and her family spent 20 years in Green Bay, WI, so needless to say, she is an avid Packers fan.  She returned to California with her family in 1998.  She is married and has two daughters and four grandchildren.  She loves spending time with her family, travel, theater, books, baking, and attending and grandchildren’s sporting events.

We are so fortunate to have these two qualified and dedicated individuals and we welcome them to their new positions with open arms and a gracious “thank you” for all of the work they have accomplished to date and will continue to accomplish as they assume their new positions.  I know we are in good hands!

Written by Tim Williamson

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

One Response

  1. Congratulations! With CSTA in such capable hands, it will go far. Way to go!

    On another matter, I moved to Colorado in October 2005. I remained a member of CSTA because I so much appreciated the publications. I have tried to adapt to the “green” move of CSTA, but to be honest, I miss holding the publications in hand. I relished the special publications, that I suppose will no longer be coming. Therefore, I have decided NOT to renew my membership when it comes due. I have enjoyed my association with CSTA and am sorry to leave this professional association. Sincerely, Betsy Leonard

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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.