September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Your Official Guide to the California Science Education Conference

Posted: Monday, August 1st, 2011

by Laura Henriques
updated September 1, 2011

It’s only a few months until we gather together in Pasadena for the 20th CSTA Science Education Conference! The 2011 Conference Committee has been hard at work putting together a top-notch program. We know you will find the conference to be of great value to you. The conference website is a wonderful tool to help you get the most out of your conference attendance.

Where will the conference be?

The conference is in Pasadena this year. It’s our first time for us to be in the city of roses and we know it will be a great venue! The majority of the sessions will be in the Pasadena Convention Center and adjacent hotels. Once at the conference you’ll be able to walk to all the venues. The conference has a shuttle bus to bring attendees to the convention center from the more distant hotels.

The conference begins on Friday, October 21 at 8:00 AM and concludes on Sunday, October 23 at 1:00 PM.

What’s the conference format?
The conference has a variety of sessions which are bound to educate and excite you. Included with your registration is admission to approximately 200 workshops and lectures. These are one hour in length. There are a variety of workshops and your conference booklet (and the conference website) provides a bit of information about each one. After the session title and description you will be able to see how the presenter describes the focus of the session (what content area is to be addressed) and what grade level the session is most appropriate for. Sessions are presented by CSTA members (preK-16 teachers or informal science educators) or by commercial partners. You will be able to tell by looking at the book.

Gravity: The Universe’s Crazy Glue
Room 103 (Pasadena Convention Center)
Discover what holds our universe together–gravity! Attendees become inquiring scientist as they replicate Galileo’s Leaning Tower of Pisa experiment using everyday objects to discover the effects of gravity. 
Earth/Space Science, Pedagogy/I&E
Kristina Atia, Pacific Elementary School
3, 4, 5

Using the description above, you can see that this session is presented by an elementary teacher and it’s most appropriate for 3rd through 5th grade classes. The content is from the earth/space science standards and the focus of the session is pedagogy/investigation & experimentation.

All workshop proposals were blind reviewed by two committee members. The conference committee did its best to select high quality sessions which cover the grade level continuum and provide sufficient options for all content areas. In addition to science content, there are also sessions related to science teaching strategies, research in science education, and new opportunities for teachers.

There are also lectures by invited presenters. These hour-long sessions are called Focus Speaker sessions. These address a variety of timely topics. They run at the same time as the workshops and are included in your registration fee.

Additionally, there will be two general session meetings. The Friday morning General Session will feature Jim Brazell. The closing session on Sunday is by Ed Begley, Jr. – a pioneer in environmental living.

Your conference registration also includes admission into the exhibit hall (be sure to plan your schedule in such a way that you get to spend time there!) and the evening events.

The conference also has short courses and field courses. As their names imply, the short courses are mini-classes on a single topic. There is a fee associated with the short courses and they require pre-registration (on-site registration is allowed if space is available). The field courses are off-site. Like the short courses they require a fee and pre-registration. The short courses and field courses run throughout the conference. It’s important to note what time the short courses and field courses are scheduled if you have your eye on a particular workshop.

What to do at night?
We have a few special treats planned for the evenings. On Friday night we’ll be showing the movie The Angry Red Planet. This will follow a discussion about our fascination with Mars and the ways in which movie makers have consistently spread misconceptions! Before the movie you can “do dinner” with new friends. We have arranged for a Dine-About Pasadena program where you sign up to eat at a restaurant. This is a great option for those of you attending the conference alone and those of you looking to meet colleagues!

Saturday night’s event includes a panel discussion entitled Sharing Science Through Art, Vision, and Creativity. The panel includes the artist and naturalist Wyland and science exhibit curators who educate the public about science through art. Many of you know Wyland’s work (think large scale paintings of whales and ocean life on the sides of buildings). This special event is not to be missed!

2011 Conference Logo

Conference Website
The conference website is an amazing tool! Savvy attendees will visit the website well in advance of their arrival in Pasadena. You can search the entire program and plan which sessions you want to attend before leaving home! The workshop page allows you to search by grade level, content area or session type. If you know the name of some good presenters you can search by their name. You can even download the entire conference program in an excel spreadsheet.

You will get the most out of your time in Pasadena if you have done a little homework ahead of time. Figure out what sessions you want to attend and make a plan! Be sure to include time to visit the exhibit hall and opportunities to network with colleagues.

What to bring?

  • Comfortable shoes
  • Space in your suitcase for materials from the exhibit hall
  • Backpack/bag/rolling cart to hold all the fun stuff you’ll get from sessions and the exhibit hall
  • Snacks to keep you going during the day
  • Pen/paper to take notes during sessions
  • Business cards and/or Address labels (with your name, school address, and e-mail)
  • Sticky notes so you can take notes during sessions without writing on hand-outs and to mark sessions in your conference book

How to register?
You can register now! Pre-registration is less expensive than on-site registration, but both are viable options. Click here to register.

As we put on the finishing touches to the conference we will update the conference website. Please join us as we celebrate 20 years of CSTA conferences. The Science Education Conference is the ideal way for you to get new ideas for your teaching and re-energize and re-educate yourself. You owe it to your students and yourself to attend.

See you in Pasadena!

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach, the co-chair of the 2011 California Science Education Conference Committee, and president-elect of CSTA.

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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  1. […] this is your first CSTA conference I encourage you to read the August 2011 article entitled Your Official Guide to the California Science Education Conference. It provides information about how to select sessions, what to bring and what to wear.  I also […]

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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.