September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Your CSTA Needs You

Posted: Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

by Rick Pomeroy

As I begin to conclude my first year as your president, I have come to realize that running this Association takes a tremendous amount of effort and time from the professional staff in the office, the Board of Directors, the Conference Committee Members, and the CSTA members who have volunteered to assist these people with the day to day operation of CSTA. Unfortunately, we do not have as many volunteer members working on CSTA committees as we would like. This, in large part, has to do with our lack of outreach efforts to our members for this type of support. Starting with this article and the Survey  Form linked to this article, I hope to change this for next year and well into the future.

We are missing the voices of the majority of the members. In order to make a professional association work, the members need to be involved. As any of us who have ever participated in a volunteer organization know, it is not healthy for the organization nor the members to have a select few volunteers doing all of the decision-making and implementation of those decisions. As we move into these coming years of new standards, new assessments, and changes in the role of science in the core curriculum, it is important to have members involved at all levels.

I would like to encourage you to give a little bit of your time to the Association as it works on your behalf by serving on one of our standing committees. This is the easiest way to test the waters of being involved in your Association leadership. Committees meet (usually by teleconference call) when there are issues that need to be dealt with. Their decisions are then carried to the Board of Directors for action. The committee then organizes and implements the Board’s recommendations. Committee members represent the interests and needs of the members and contribute their voices to the conversations that guide Association decisions. In the past, committees have met infrequently (less than 5-6 times a year) but their input has been substantial and valued.

Please review the brief committee descriptions below and go to the Survey Form to indicate your interest in participating on a committee. To serve on a CSTA committee, a person needs to be a current member of CSTA, have the willingness to help, and be formally appointed by the President.

CSTA Committees:

Finance Committee: In collaboration with the Executive Director, develops the annual budget, monitor’s income and expenditures, and makes recommendations to the Board on issues related to the financial health of the Association.

Legislative Oversight Committee: Monitors current and proposed legislation, develops recommended responses for the Board, President, and Executive Director, and assists in informing the CSTA Membership on legislative issues that pertain to science education in California. If available, members may be called on to speak to proposed legislation at information meetings or hearings using the Board approved position statements.

Membership, Pre-service, & Marketing Committee: Monitors Association membership and works with the Board and professional staff to engage members in the Association. Develops strategies to increase the number of members through outreach to pre-service and new teachers as well as previous or non-current members. Develops plans to provide value for Association membership to CSTA members and communicates these opportunities to members.

Publications and Materials Review Committee: Over sees and assists in the creation, editing, and publication of the Association’s electronic newsletter, California Classroom Science (CCS) and other publications of the Association.

Electronic Communications Committee: Develops, monitors, and participates in all phases of the Associations electronic communications media including but not limited to email, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds, and other media as appropriate. Members of this committee assist in the maintenance of the electronic contact information for members.

2013 Conference Committee: Participates in the planning and implementation of the 2013 California Science Education Conference (to be held in Palm Springs, October 24-27, 2013). Members of this committee assist in the identification and solicitation of speakers, assist in the review of conference short courses and workshop proposals, and assist on site with logistical tasks. This committee holds 2-3 on site meetings, in August, November, and February. Costs for travel to these planning meetings may be supported by CSTA. Members from the Palm Springs area are encouraged to apply.

Ad hoc NSTA Relations Committee: The major focus of this committee is to open communications with NSTA on plans for their 2014 Regional Conference and their 2017 National Conference, both of which are proposed for California venues.

Ad hoc Long Term Planning Committee: Analyzes data from past Association activities and proposes strategies to maximize return on investment in the future. Topics addressed by this committee will likely include conference and membership issues.

Ad hoc NGSS Committee: Monitors the process for the development and review of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and any new science standards proposed for California, develops and recommends strategies to support adoption, implementation, and professional development focused on these standards and the subsequent framework development and adoption process.

There are clearly many opportunities for you be involved in CSTA. There is a lot of work to be done, and we need your help to do it. Please visit the Survey Form and provide information about the committees or other areas where you would like to volunteer for your Association. This information will only be used for CSTA purposes.

Access the survey form with the links above or by entering the following url directly into your browser:

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.

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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.