September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Times They Are a Changing

Posted: Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

by Rick Pomeroy

As we decompress from the 2011 California Science Education Conference, I want to thank all of the people who worked so hard to provide the workshops, Short Courses, and presentations in Pasadena. This is your conference and the thing that makes it so valuable to teachers across California is that the majority of the sessions are presented by fellow teachers and educators sharing their ideas and experiences. Thank you to all who attended and to those who were with us in spirit. I would also like to thank the conference co-chairs, Dean Gilbert and Laura Henriques, and their committee for all of the work that putting on a meeting of this size requires. Finally, I want to thank the CSTA staff, Jessica Sawko, Connie Morrill, and Kayla Froehlich-Williams for the professional handling of the logistics of the conference. Until you have worked along side the staff and volunteers, you can’t possibly understand all of the mega and mini details that have to be attended to.

Debbie Nuzzulo of SeaWorld San Diego and Guadalupe de la O

On the Saturday morning of the conference, I had the pleasure of hosting the annual awards breakfast. During the breakfast we honored CSTA’s Future Science Teacher Award winner, Guadalupe de la O, and together with the California Department of Education, we recognized the California finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST), Dean Baird, Ziba Mayar, and Ericka Senegar-Mitchell. It is a pleasure to honor all of the recipients and to look forward to their work and their participation in CSTA in the future.

For those of you who were unable to attend, I summarized much of the excitement for the future in science education in California in my general session address:

These are exciting times to be involved with science education. To borrow a line from the Bob Dylan: The Times They Are a Changing.”

As you may or may not know, two significant events in the past two months have the potential to significantly change the landscape of science education for students in California. On September 20, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson announced that California will be one of 20 states to lead the effort in the writing of the Next Generation Science Standards whose structure is guided by the Framework for K-12 Science Education that was released in July of this year. This was exciting news, given that the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the President of the State Board of Education, and the Governor agreed that it is time to bring the California Science Standards into the 21st century. However, this proclamation was meaningless with out the second event, the Governor’s signing of Senate Bill 300 on October 8. SB 300, which was sponsored by YOUR association, authorizes the Superintendent of Public Instruction to update and revise the California Science Standards and requires them to be based on the Next Generation Science Standards. Without SB 300, there was no directive to make any changes in the current standards which were developed in 1998.

So what does that mean for you, the members of CSTA? For those of you who are just embarking on your careers, it means exciting times ahead. All of your dreams and motivation for choosing a career in teaching: to make a difference, to share your joy of science and learning, and to give back, have a realistic chance of being fulfilled. For those of you who are nearing the other end of your careers, here is a chance to return to the engaging inquiry process approach to science that we so eagerly embraced during the years of integrated science, the 100 Schools Project, and a framework that emphasized big ideas and themes, not factoids and discipline specificity. Finally, for those of you in between, here is a reason to be re-energized about science teaching. When you reach that point where you ask: is this all there is? You can say no, there is so much more.

This transition is not going to be easy and we should not treat it or these precipitating events lightly. Now is the time to commit ourselves the future! CSTA, as your association, will take an active role in helping these dreams become a reality. To do that, we need you and your colleagues. If our voice is to be heard as the voice for high quality science education for all students, we need to represent all of you. Your association will speak loudly for an exemplary science education for all of California’s students. As professional educators, your membership in this professional association shouts your commitment to your field. When people ask you “What do I get for my membership fee?” tell them “You get to be heard.”

There are other things you can do as well. Please consider taking an active role in the leadership of CSTA. As your President, I can tell you that the best way to feel in control of an organization is to become involved. In addition to the board of director positions that make the decisions that guide all actions of CSTA, there are conference committees that plan and implement meetings like the California Science Education Conference, a publications committee that provides input into CSTA publications, a legislative oversight committee, e-communications, and more.

As we move forward, it is important to hear the voices of our members, particularly the new and mid-career teachers whose professional lives will be most impacted by the decisions and positions that the board takes.

I want to leave you this thought, shared with me by my colleague, Herb Brunkorst, CSTA member and faculty member at CSU San Bernardino who said:

“The door to the future of science education in California has opened a crack. We can let it shut and lose a chance for changing science education for the next 20 years, or we can push through it and move on to a new and exciting frontier.”

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

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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. […] this year’s California Science Education Conference our president Rick Pomeroy was able to express the thanks that many of us need to continue to express. Thanks to California Senator Loni Hancock for her work […]

  2. I would like to be part of the development of the nation’s Next Generation standards for Earth Science or at least the California standards based upon them.

    Over twenty years ago I was part of the 100 Schools Project to write the Integrated Science curriculum. I taught at Rim High School in Lake Arrowhead and was part of the Ontario hub. After teaching General Science for several years, I taught Integrated Science from 1980 to 2005.

    I’ve been teaching Earth Science off-and-on for since 1986. For the last six years I’ve been teaching Earth Science full-time at Golden Valley High School in Bakersfield. I am the PLC Leader for Earth Science at my school and serve on the district’s Earth Science Benchmark Committee.

    I earned an M.Ed. Degree from CSULA in 1993 and an Ed.D, from USC in 2001. Both specialized in curriculum and instruction. My dissertation won the Award of Merit.

    Over the years I’ve also served as school site rep, teacher association treasurer, School Site Council member, school WASC leader and WASC Visiting Committee member. I also led the development and presentation of the “Closing the Achievement Gap” Symposiums for teachers in my prior district, the East Side High School District in San Jose.

    Most of the 50-something earth science teachers in my current district, the Kern High School District, are very displeased with the factoid-based standards that cover far too much information with little time for process or inquiry. Our students are bored with the facts, despite their fast pace, and want labs that inspire them to think. Our district doesn’t fund those kind of activities since earth science is not part of the A-G requirements and is not a lab class. The new standards will hopefully change that nation-wide.

    I have four more years until retirement and would love to devote a good bit of my effort , skills and training to improve the profession by improving its standards and methods.

    Please consider how you can use me to help the cause. Please respond ASAP to at least let me know your intent.

    Tom Richardson, Ed.D.
    7117 Lucille Ave.
    Bakersfield, CA. 93308

  3. Dear Tom,
    Thank you for your interest in participating in the process. I encourage you to re-join CSTA to help support our efforts to participate in the process and develop the best science content standards possible.
    It is the role and responsibility of the California Department of Education to convene the group of reviewers for the “state review” portion of the process. CSTA has been invited to participate in that committee.

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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.