September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Where Will You Be in December?

Posted: Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

by Laura Henriques

I sure hope you answered that question with an enthusiastic “I’ll be in Long Beach for the conference” sort of response!

Come join your science education colleagues for three to four days of professional learning. The conference, hosted by NSTA with some input from CSTA, will take place on December 4-6. With a couple hundred workshops, lectures, short courses and field trips, this is the place to be! You can peruse the schedule on-line and get a sense of some of the outstanding sessions awaiting you. The keynote speakers will address a range of topics that include linkages between science and Common Core ELA, STEM, and science education moving forward. (Go online today to verify your membership or join CSTA today – CSTA members can register for the conference at the NSTA Affiliate Member rate and save $90 on their registration!)

  • Julie Scardina Naturalist, Author, SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Ambassador is the conference’s keynote speaker at the General Session. She’ll have some animal ambassadors on hand with her.
  • Myrna Perez Sheldon, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Rice University, Houston, Texas will talk about Using the Past to Take Science Education into the Future.
  • Arthur Beauchamp, Interim Director of the Sacramento Area Science Project and Senior Director of Professional Learning Systems, School of Education, University of California–Davis, is well known in California and is a long-time member of CSTA. He’ll be talking about The Central Role of Dialogue in the Sense-Making Classroom.
  • Another California/CSTA notable, Nancy Taylor, Principal Investigator, Exploring STEM Careers at San Diego State University, will be talking about STEM the New Normal! Really When Did That Happen?

Conference Field Trips cover a wide range of topics and interests. There will be six events offered during the conference, with two additional trips are offered as pre-conference trips. All field trips are ticketed events and have limited space available.

  • Journey into Space at the Columbia Memorial Space Center Thursday, December 4, 8:00 AM–1:15 PM
  • Up Close and Personal with Ocean Critters: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium Thursday, December 4, 12 Noon–5:15 PM
  • The Science in Your Beer: Chemistry, Microbiology, and Sensory Analysis at Smog City Brewing Company Thursday, December 4, 12:30–5:10 PM
  • Looking to the Future: Visiting the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the Endeavour Space Shuttle Friday, December 5, 8:00 AM–1:00 PM
  • Wet and Wild Adventures with the Southern California Marine Institute Friday, December 5, 8:00 AM–1:00 PM
  • Slip-Sliding Away: A Palos Verdes Geology Tour Friday, December 5, 12 Noon–5:00 PM

In addition to the events at the conference, CSTA is hosting four events that merit your attention.

The CSTA Annual Meeting of the Membership will occur on Thursday afternoon, 3:15-4:30. At this session, CSTA will honor the CSTA Award recipients and the California State Finalists and Awardee of the Presidential Awards for Excellence and Math and Science Teaching, and conduct its brief annual meeting. Following that, Stephen Pruitt, Sr. Vice President at Achieve, will be sharing the latest resources to help us implement and understand NGSS. His talk, entitled Using the Tools of the NGSS to Support Quality Science Instruction, promises to be timely and readily useful.

©Photo courtesy of the Aquarium of the Pacific. All rights reserved.

Thursday evening CSTA and the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific are hosting an event for conference attendees. The aquarium will be the venue for an evening with the fish, interesting science and science education mini-lectures, and an NGSS & Engineering Lesson Showcase. This is a ticketed event and includes light hors d’oeuvres and one drink ticket. The evening is generously sponsored by Chevron. CSTA Members will get an e-mail soon about submitting proposals to be part of the NGSS & Engineering Lesson Showcase.

As if 200 workshops, lectures, and the evening at the aquarium isn’t enough, you can arrive in Long Beach a day early to participate in one of two all-day field trips! CSTA has arranged opportunities for you to spend a day of geoscience on the San Andreas Fault or a day doing marine biology at Catalina Island. Tickets for these field trips are available now.

Talk to your school and district administrators! Do what you need to do in order to be in Long Beach. The conference strands address NGSS, science and Common Core, and STEM education. You will learn timely, useful information and strategies which will inform your practice.

See you in Long Beach! Conference registration is open now with early bird rates until October 24.


Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and past-president of CSTA. She serves as chair of CSTA’s Nominating Committee and is a co-chair of the NGSS 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.