2021 California Science Education Conference

Awards Luncheon


Saturday, October 14, 2017, 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Join your fellow science education colleagues for this special event designed to celebrate achievement in science education. The CSTA Awards Luncheon is held in honor of the recipients of the Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, the Future Science Teacher Award, the Distinguished Contributions Award, and the California winner and state finalists in the science teacher category for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). In addition to a plated lunch and presentation of awards, attendees will enjoy a presentation by Page Keeley.

Seating for this event is limited and a ticket is required to attend. Tickets are $46 and are available to conference registrants and their guests only. Purchase a ticket for this event along with your registration, or if you have already registered you may add a ticket for this event online or by contacting the CSTA office. This event is sure to sell out quickly, so purchase your ticket today!

What Are Students Really Thinking?- Building an NGSS Bridge Between Initial Ideas and Scientific Explanations

Page Keeley

Page Keeley is an internationally known leader in science education. She is the developer and primary author of the Uncovering Student Ideas Series in Science and the Formative Assessment- 75 Practical Strategies Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning series (the "FACTs books"). Her interest in conceptual change and formative assessment began in 1992 after reading the seminal article, Teaching for Conceptual Change- Confronting Children's Experience by Bruce Watson and Dick Konicek. Her assessment probes and FACTs (formative assessment classroom techniques) are widely used by K-12 teachers, university professors, and professional development and science specialists throughout the U.S. and internationally.

Page recently "retired" from the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance (MMSA) where she had been the Senior Science Program Director since 1996. Today she works as an independent consultant, speaker, and author providing professional development to school districts and organizations in the areas of science and STEM formative assessment, understanding student thinking, teaching science for conceptual understanding, and designing effective instruction.

Prior to joining the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance in Page taught middle and high school science for 15 years. She received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Secondary Science Teaching in 1992, the Milken National Distinguished Educator Award in 1993, and the AT&T Maine Governor’s Fellow in 1994.

Award Winners

CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2017 California PAEMST Finalists, 2017 Future Science Teacher of the Year Award, and the Bertrand Advocacy Award. This year's group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!

Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award

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 Dennis Mitchell. Mr. Mitchell is a middle school science teacher at Evergreen School in Cottonwood, CA. In her letter of recommendation, Siskiyou County Office of Education Student Services Director and CSTA board member Marian Murphy-Shaw wrote: "Dennis Mitchell has lived a life dedicated to science education. When a career spans more than 42 years all of the specific examples of service, leadership, and commitment to science education become too long list." Several highlights in his career are notable and do illustrate the depth of his commitment to his students and his profession. In the 1990’s Dennis and his colleagues at Evergreen Middle School hosted teachers from across the North State region to see what integrated thematic instruction looked like. In the early 2000’s Dennis joined the content team of a 4-year CPEC project named ARISE that focused on making connections for rural science teachers to rich science and place-based resources both for their own content knowledge growth and to empower them to bring those resources back to the students they served. He was also a leader in teacher professional learning through a CA-MSP serving multiple northern counties and the CA Science Project. Each of those project resulted in teachers expanding their abilities and in turn becoming site content leads, leaders in other professional learning projects or replication of the professional resources back at their sites.

Dennis has never stopped being an educator. His contagious curiosity and enthusiasm for his own learning have inspired generations of students and teachers to do the same. He is more than deserving of this nomination and being recognized with the Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award.

Future Science Teacher Award

Ayah Qutob is a graduate of the credential program at Fresno State University. In his letter of recommendation Assistant Professor of Science Education at CSU Fresno and former CSTA board member Fred Nelson wrote: "Ms. Qutob's commitment to her students emerges from her belief in the significance of learning science for success in life. ln service of this commitment, her knowledge of science is exceptional, and she is able to make relevant connections of natural phenomena to meaningful learning experiences. I have observed firsthand her content expertise in her student teaching placement, including an appropriate understanding of the Next Generation Science Standards. She has volunteered extensively with local science fairs and the Stellar Science and Circuit Science outreach programs. Ms. Qutob brings an enhanced sense of dedication to her future as a science teacher. I would be pleased to have my own grandchildren in her classroom, and confident of their success as learners as Ms. Qutob's students." Ms. Qutob is a current member of CSTA.

Kristell Yap earned her single subject science credential in biology and chemistry from CSU, Long Beach. Her master teacher Leslie Appel had this to say about Ms. Yap: "Kristell is an extremely strong student teacher who constantly puts the students needs first. She gets along well with the students and is able to encourage the students to achieve their best. She understands the NGSS and incorporates these into her daily lessons. Kristell spends time after her assigned classes each day to make sure her lessons are ready for the next day. She seems to always strive to give her students the best education possible." Ms. Yap has attended twice and even presented once at the California Science Education Conference and is a current member of CSTA.

2017 Christine Bertrand Advocacy Award

The Christine Bertrand Advocacy Award is named for CSTA's former executive director Christine Bertrand. Christine served as CSTA's executive director 1996-2011. Under her leadership, CSTA achieved many advocacy victories for science education. In 2015, the CSTA Board of Directors established the Christine Bertrand Advocacy Award to honor her service to science education. The award honors an individual(s) who demonstrate a commitment to quality science education in California, going beyond expected levels of involvement. The award recognizes outstanding advocacy and championing of quality science education. Nominated and bestowed by the Board of Directors, no more than two awards will be given per year.

Stephen Blake, Children Now

Stephen Blake has been a friend of CSTA's for more than four years. In his capacity as Senior Advisor at Children Now, Stephen has been a strong advocate for many of the same policy issues that are of priority to CSTA, including but not limited to, the adoption of NGSS, science curriculum framework development, and science assessment and inclusion in of this assessment in our state's accountability system. In addition, Stephen has used his years of experience and connections in California's education system to help CSTA become more effective and efficient advocates as well as add volume to our voice. Stephen Blake has been involved in public education and governmental reform in California for twenty-five years. In addition to his role at Children Now, Stephen is the principal of Stephen G. Blake and Associates, which provides policy, fiscal, and development consultation to non-profit, governmental, and private entities, including Pivot Learning Partners, Fuse Corps, and New America Foundation.

Previously, Stephen served as Executive Director of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Governor’s Committee on Education Excellence, whose recommendations have served as the foundation for efforts to enhance financial flexibility, promote equity, strengthen teacher effectiveness, expand early education, and improve our data and accountability systems; and as Chief Consultant to the Legislature’s Joint Committee to Develop a Master Plan for Education, which produced a first-in-the-nation blueprint for all levels of education. He preceded those efforts with eleven years of advocacy and system policy development for the California State University, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the State Board of Education, and he was a member of the leadership team for the California Education Summit conducted by Assembly Speaker Willie L. Brown, Jr. Stephen earned his baccalaureate degree in philosophy from Princeton University in 1986.

CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award

The CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award honors an organization, institution or foundation which has made a sustained, significant impact on science education in the state and which, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching and learning. This year's awardees are the National Center for Science Education and Achieve.

National Center for Science Education

National Center for Science Education

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) programs support teachers, engage scientists and organize local communities to ensure that evolution and climate change are taught without compromise. They are vigilant in monitoring for anti-science legislation, inaccurate textbooks, and compromised science standards, and effectively organize local responses whenever problems arise. Here in California, NCSE has consistently been responsive to needs of science educators in the state and have a long track record of supporting CSTA and its members. Employees of the NCSE have served as CSTA board members, authored articles for California Classroom Science, and presented at the California Science Education Conference.

Most recently, the NCSE has taken an active role in CA NGSS. One such example is supporting the California Science Framework review process by providing public input. In addition, they supported writers of the CA NGSS Roll Out 4 Grades 6-8 Integrated Learning Sequence by helping to track down data that could be used to strengthen incorporation of Analysis of Data and Mathematics and Computational Thinking in the sequence. They also supplied information and raffle items to each of the Roll Out 4 host sites so educators would know a support mechanism for the teaching of evolution and climate change existed. Most recently, with climate propaganda being sent directly to teachers across the state, they have been immediately responsive to teachers who needed guidance on messaging around such tactics. They are an important and valuable resource to our membership. NCSE exemplifies the vision of the Distinguished Contributions Award for their leadership, service, and positive impact.


Created in 1996 by a bipartisan group of governors and business leaders, Achieve is a nonprofit education organization that has spent two decades leading the effort to help states make college and career readiness a priority for all students. Achieve is also well-known for their work in facilitating the development of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Throughout the NGSS review and adoption process in California, Achieve was very active in supporting the work of the Science Expert Panel, State Board of Education, and California Department of Education. Once NGSS was adopted, Achieve spent a great deal of time and energy helping CSTA and other stakeholders understand NGSS. California, as a Lead State, was invited to several Achieve sponsored events around NGSS and they always made it possible for us to have a contingent of people attend. Achieve staff were present throughout the development of the California Curriculum Framework process. They provided support to the committee and testified at State Board of Education meetings.

Achieve has been a partner and contributor to our conferences. Their former vice president Stephen Pruitt has been a keynote speaker several times, and other Achieve staff have attended and supported the CSTA Fostering Leadership Event and presented workshops. CSTA partnered with Achieve to provide NGSS communication training to teachers and science education leaders. Having Achieve be a regular and strong presence in California to support our work around NGSS transition and implementation has been a critical component of the implementation process. Their work supports CSTA's efforts to promote high quality education for California’s students.

Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST)

CSTA annually partners with the California Department of Education to honor the California science teacher state finalists and recipients of the PAEMST. The PAEMST are the nation's highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science (including computer science). Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.

The 2017 California State Finalists for Science are:

Kathryn Beck is a high school teacher at Bolsa Grande High School in the Garden Grove Unified School District and has been teaching 18 years. She creates a safe classroom environment for her students using cooperative learning through table talks and group discourse. Beck developed College Board-approved advanced placement Physics B and AP Physics C curriculum as well as a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) after-school extension class, which was developed with the Orange County Department of Education. Kathryn is an active member of CSTA and serves on CSTA’s Legislative Oversight Committee.

Erin Dunroe teaches at Lake Center Middle School in the Little Lake City Elementary School District. She has been teaching for nine years. Dunroe teaches life science and physical science along with Advancement Via Individual Determination. She provides multiple opportunities for students to show their understanding, including open-ended questions, peer discussions, and hands-on investigations. She serves as a mentor for student teachers through the Los Angeles County Office of Education. Erin is an active member of CSTA.

Allie Kittay is a high school teacher at Redwood High School in the Tamalpais Union High School District. A 31-year veteran of teaching, she teaches AP biology and Integrated Science 3-4. Kittay mentors student teachers and provides a variety of instructional strategies to support the students within her classes. She provides workshops for new and experienced AP biology teachers, such as inquiry-based labs and quantitative skills in biology.

Kari Milton teaches grades six through eight at Bancroft Middle School in the Long Beach Unified School District and has been teaching for 16 years. Milton teaches computer-aided drafting, which implements top-design concept, and coding skills through HTML and CSS. She is also the advisor to the Genius Bar, where students participate and help with the technology needs of the school. She rewrote and updated course guides for grades seven and eight technology curriculum for the district that follow accountability with national technology standards and also provides support for those who would like to earn their National Board Certification.

Jose Rivas is a high school teacher at Lennox Mathematics, Science, and Technology Academy in the Lennox School District. He has been teaching for 14 years and currently teaches AP physics, principles of engineering, and engineering design and development and uses a variety of instructional methods including phenomenon-based learning, structured discourse, and modeling. As the department chair, he coordinates and leads professional learning and observations for the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) Department. He has presented at local and national conferences such as the National Science Teachers Association Conference and the U.S. News STEM Solutions Conference.


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    October 14-16, 2022
    Palm Springs, CA

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