September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

The T in STEM – Technology Management in Science Classrooms

Posted: Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

by Lisa Hegdahl

Next Generation of Science Standards, Common Core, and now technology!  Science teachers in California are being asked to incorporate increasingly more components into everyday lessons in order to prepare their students for college and career. Despite the increased demands, with a little preparation, technology can be an engaging way to involve students in the world of Science.

Before You Begin

Whether you have one computer in your classroom or one computer for every student, start your venture into technology with a strong Student Technology Contract. Examples of contracts abound on the Internet covering issues from permitted websites to proper use of equipment to consequences for breaking contracts. The student as well as the parents should sign the technology contract. Agreements may be written by individual teachers or created for an entire school site. Regardless of where the contract originates, periodically revisit its terms with your students.

Even though most students use technology daily, many are not knowledgeable about specific technology terms and procedures. When you first introduce computers to your students, it will be worth your while to define common technology usage terms, especially those that can have more than one meaning such as the difference between “closing a computer” and “signing out of a computer” (Heitin, 4).


Even during the most engaging lesson, students will want to wander independently through the Internet, so supervision of student activity is essential. Ideally, computers should be placed so the teacher can see all the computer screens. Computer programs exist that allow teachers to observe, close tabs, and even lock student computers remotely. Regardless of computer placement or monitoring program, there is no substitute for roaming the classroom to keep students focused on the task at hand (Heitin, 2). As you inspect screens, pay particular attention to windows that may be minimized (Hume, 2). There should be clear consequences for being off task while using computers.

Single-computer classrooms

If your classroom has only one computer, consider using it as a station. For long-term projects, have students rotate to the computer for a particular portion of the project. This part should stand alone as students will access the computer during different stages of the assignment. Develop a clear signal for when students will switch users, such as an egg timer or student assistant, (Integrating Technology: Classroom Management Strategies, 4). How much time you give each rotation will depend on the required task. The rotation strategy can also be used for computerized lab simulations. Students rotate to the computer over a class period or school week; individually or in groups. If students are using the computer in groups, assign each group member a job so each person has an opportunity to use the technology (Hume, 2; Integrating Technology: Classroom Management Strategies, 4). Place answers to FAQs within easy access of the computer, for instance how to log-in, frequented website addresses, how to refresh the computer screen, and how to signal for assistance (Hume, 2; Integrating Technology: Classroom Management Strategies, 5).

Multi-computer Classrooms

In classrooms where each student is fortunate to have their own computer, they should always use the same computer. This will give students a sense of ownership and decrease misuse and vandalism. Spend time teaching students about maintenance and care of their devices and let them know that they are responsible for their computer’s well-being and upkeep. Students should be instructed to inform the teacher if there are problems with their computer otherwise they might be held responsible for any issues that arise (Heitin, 2-3).

Student assistants are especially helpful in multi-computer classrooms (Heitin, 3). Their attention to minor technology issues will free the teacher to interact with students about the subject matter (Hume, 2). Assistants can pass out computers, help students log-in and connect to the internet, and ensure that the computers are set up to charge overnight (Integrating Technology: Classroom Management Strategies, 4).

With a myriad of computer programs, websites, and social media only a click a way, computers provide students with current, relevant, and engaging science content. Planning ahead will make the experience more satisfying for you and your students.


Heitin, L. ( 2013, October). For Teachers, Wired Classrooms Pose New Management Concerns.  Education Week TEACHER.  Retrieved from

Hume, K. (2011, June). Managing Technology Use in Your Classroom.
TEACH Magazine. Retrieved from

Travis Unified School District. (2002-2014). Integrating Technology: Classroom Management Strategies.  Retrieved from

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl is an 8th grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA and is President for CSTA.

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.