September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

The Season of Lists

Posted: Thursday, December 1st, 2011

by Rick Pomeroy

As I was driving home over the Thanksgiving weekend, I realized that we are right in the middle of what I have come to refer to as “The Season of Lists.”  Every year at this time, we make lists of the things we are thankful for, things we wish for, and resolutions or things we want to do or change. The more I thought about it the more I wondered about what would these lists look like for CSTA and for science teachers in California?

Stealing part of a late night television bit, here are my lists of the top 3 things in each of those categories.

Things to be thankful for

  • Passage of SB 300 authorizing the rewriting of the California science education standards.
  • A conference in Pasadena that introduced a new venue and engaged a new science teachers in our professional organization.
  • An experienced board of directors and an active membership who are working to steer the association into the future.

Wishes for the future

  • Development of new science standards that encourage critical thinking and problem solving and have robust content.
  • Inclusion of science in the core curricula at all grades in all elementary schools in California.
  • Increased membership in CSTA.

Resolutions for the coming year

  • To position CSTA as a key player in the development, adoption, and subsequent implementation of a new and robust set of science standards.
  • To increase membership in CSTA through a combination of outreach to new science teachers, re-engaging past members, and enhancing the value of membership to our current members.
  • To implement plans to insure a healthy and valued association for now and the future.

It is pretty clear that standards, both the existing standards and those that will evolve as a result of SB 300, play a central role in my thinking about the past the present and the future of CSTA. The existing standards have guided science instruction since their introduction in the late 90’s, and, along with the high stakes testing, are responsible for many of the things that science teachers hope will change under new standards patterned after the Next Generation Science Standards. Under the current conditions, science has been virtually eliminated from many elementary school classrooms at a time when parents and children alike believe that more science instruction is important. The content has been reduced to “knowing” a seemingly endless list of facts at the expense of  the problem solving and critical thinking that an inquiry based science curriculum promises to deliver. If the Next Generation Science Standards are adopted, there is a promise of less fact driven instruction, with a greater focus on the processes of science, and the knowledge and skills necessary to promote our students’ smooth transitions from school to college and careers.

As we move forward in the first steps of the reinventing of science education in California, it will be very important that science teachers are represented at all steps in the process. In the coming months, there will be opportunities for members to play an active role in the upcoming public comment periods on the Next Generation Science Standards, STEM task force, the California Teacher Advisory Council, and the Instructional Quality Commission.  As the organization representing science teachers, it is important that you stay connected and that you encourage your peers to renew or restart their membership. The cost of membership ($39) is a small price to pay for representation on such critical issues as those facing science teachers today.

As we move into the “Season of the Lists”, I encourage you to add items to these CSTA thoughts by commenting below.  Your thoughts will help as a way of providing guidance, direction, and inspiration.

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California, Davis and is CSTA’s president.


Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis.

3 Responses

  1. Thanks, Rick.

    Glad you’re leading us..

  2. I’d like a link on these to “like” this on facebook…right now the only option is to post it as a link, which is cool, but I like “liking” things as well. Good and interesting summary!

  3. Dear Cristina,
    Thank you for the suggestion!

Leave a Reply


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…

Powered By DT Author Box

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…

Powered By DT Author Box

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.