October 2014 – Vol. 27 No. 2

Last Days to Register for Amazing Pre-Conference Field Trips

October 31, 2014 is the last day to register for one of two amazing pre-conference field courses being offered by CSTA. The field courses will take place on Wednesday, December 3, the day before the NSTA Long Beach Area Conference.

2014 Long Beach Area Conference — CSTA Pre-Conference Field Courses

Marine Science Adventures on Catalina Island

© Anne Maben – Photo courtesy of CSTA member Anne Maben.

Located on Catalina Island just 20 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, Big Fisherman’s Cove is the site of the famed USC Wrigley Marine Science Center, an international research and teaching facility. After a general tour of the facilities and touch tanks, teachers will participate in an ecology and island history walk and hear the latest research on sharks from world-renowned expert, Dr. Chris Lowe. Teachers will also tour and learn about the hyperbaric chamber that saves divers’ lives and explore tiny critters in the plankton lab. Participants may jump into a wetsuit and enjoy a guided snorkeling tour in pristine kelp beds, under the guidance of USC dive instructors or venture on a guided kayak tour off the beautiful coast of Catalina. What a day! Please wear slacks, close-toed shoes, a jacket, sunscreen and bring a bathing suit and towel if you plan to snorkel or kayak – cameras, binoculars and hats are a big plus! If you are prone to seasickness, please bring medication.

Wednesday, December 3, 6:30am – 5:30 pm

CSTA Member/Nonmember Fees: $60/$75 Learn More…

Sessions for All Grade Bands and Disciplines at NSTA Conference on Science Education in Long Beach

Here are some of the many exciting events you can expect at the NSTA Area Conference on Science Education in Long Beach this December 4–6:

Register today for the most savings! Our Earlybird Deadline ends October 24.  – Remember CSTA members: Select the “NSTA Affiliate Member Rate” when registering to save $90 on registration.

Register Learn More…

NGSS Science & Engineering Showcase – Call for Proposals

CSTA Members: You are invited to submit a proposal to showcase your classroom-tested NGSS, STEM, or Engineering unit, lesson, or project at the CSTA Night at the Aquarium. Submit a proposal for the Showcase today and share your experience with your colleagues. Showcase presenters receive a free ticket to the event! Submit a proposal today!

Proposals will be accepted September 24 – October 20. Notifications regarding the status of proposals will be distributed via email on October 27, 2014.

Proposal Guidelines and Information:

  • You must be a member of CSTA to submit a proposal.
  • We are looking for educators who can showcase an engineering/STEM/NGSS unit, lesson(s), or project that directly apply to classroom instruction. Preference will be given to those proposals that integrate the three dimensions of NGSS.
  • You will be provided with a 6’ table top.
  • You are expected to post your handouts on the event’s Edmodo site. This must be done a week prior to the event.
  • The evening will be divided into two, 90 minute “shifts.” Each shift will allow for 20 minutes of set-up, 60 minutes for “presentation,” and 10 minutes for clean-up. If accepted, your showcase will be assigned to one shift, allowing you the other 90 minutes to enjoy the evening’s events as a participant.
  • If possible, bring hands-on supplies/manipulatives (not handouts) or examples (videos, photos, student work, other) for attendees to see/use during your discussions.

Submit a proposal today

Call for Nominations for the 2015-2017 CSTA Board of Directors

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementation planning for the Next Generations Science Standards and implementing its new strategic plan. If you are interesting in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration.

Nominations for the following positions on the CSTA Board of Directors are now being accepted:

Directors (with the exception of the president-elect) will serve a two-year term beginning July 1, 2015, and ending June 30, 2017. Learn More…

INTRODUCING: CSTA Member Preferred Ticketing for Monterey Bay Aquarium!

By Lisa Hegdahl

Who doesn’t love the Monterey Aquarium?
Along side the beautiful California coast, for nearly 30 years, the non-profit Monterey Bay Aquarium has been the standard by which all other aquariums are judged. It’s hailed by peers and public alike for its innovative exhibits and unsurpassed visitor experience. Home to nearly 35,000 animals and plants, the Aquarium is a showcase for the sea life of one of the world’s richest marine regions, from sea otters and jellyfish to sharks, sea turtle, octopus, and hundreds of other species. Changing special exhibitions, hands-on activities and lively daily programs make the Aquarium a must-see attraction for all ages. Learn More…

Registration for Science in the River City (SIRC) Is Now Open!

by Debbie Dennick

Science in the River City (SIRC) is an outstanding standards-based professional development program for 3rd-12th grade science teachers. All workshops are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. The workshops are designed to deepen teachers’ understanding of science and provide innovative ideas, lessons, and strategies for teachers to use in their classrooms. Registration is $45 and includes a 2 hour workshop, workshop materials, parking pass, guest speaker and dinner. For more information please visit our website at www.csus.edu/mase.

Click here for the SIRC 2014-2015 Science Workshops brochure.

Debbie Dennick is the SIRC and Event Coordinator of the MASE Center at Sacramento State


So How Is That Science Teaching Job Working Out for You?

by Lisa Hegdahl

You made it! You dreamed about it all through student teaching – the chance to have your very own classroom. You have set it up just the way you want, you have put together a strong classroom management plan, and you have designed fabulous, creative lessons. It is smooth sailing from here on out…right?

Well, just in case your teaching career is not going quite as effortlessly as you had imagined, you are in good company. Many new teachers find that the realities of a full time teaching job can be even more difficult than their time spent student teaching. However, with a little patience and support you can be on your way to a successful and enjoyable school year. The following are some ideas to help you get there: Learn More…

Engineering in Afterschool: Attitude Is Everything!

by Melissa Higgins

A boisterous group of fifth grade girls stand at the front of the room at Girls, Inc., an afterschool program in Lynn, MA. Younger girls sit crowded on the floor before them. They’re waiting for the start of the Bubble Bonanza—a carnival show being put on by the fifth grade engineers who have just finished designing their very own bubble wands. Learn More…

Backyard Mystery: Solving a Mystery with Science

by Peggy G. Lemaux and Barbara Alonso


The Backyard Mystery curriculum was developed by Dr. Peggy G. Lemaux, and her assistant, Barbara Alonso, Science Communication Specialist, at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Jenne Stonaker at Stanford University also helped with the Backyard Mystery curriculum development. It was developed as a part of the project, “Collaborative Research Strategies: STEMware™ – Designing Immersive Biology Learning Simulations for Formal and Informal Settings”, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF ITEST Award Number 0929717). Learn More…

Making NGSS Informal (Is There Really Such a Thing as Formal Science?)

by Peter A’Hearn


I had a conversation with Cristina Trecha of the San Diego Science Project about NGSS and informal science, and about the work she has been doing to help science centers make the shifts to NGSS.

Peter: So I see from your Twitter feed that you have been doing lots of work with the informal science community on NGSS. Learn More…

Advancing Student Engagement: One School’s Journey in Transforming Their School’s Culture for Sustainable Academic Achievement and College and Career Readiness Through Increased Student Engagement

by Judi Hayes

As educators we know at the heart of creating sustainable academic achievement and ensuring the college and career readiness of our students, is the provision of a school culture where engagement is valued and maximized. Lake Canyon Elementary School’s administration, staff, and parents have joined together to make increased student engagement a reality. We are providing varied opportunities for students to discover and explore their areas of interest and talent. Learn More…

Celestial Highlights for October 2014

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller.

This month’s highlights include a total lunar eclipse in the predawn hours of Wednesday, Oct. 8, and a partial solar eclipse on Thursday afternoon, Oct. 23.

 Two eclipses in October !

The two eclipses make October a good month to follow the Moon through an entire cycle of phases and observe its changing visibility in day and night skies. I recommend certain times of the day for checking the Moon’s appearance and whereabouts. For each suggested time of day, the range of dates when Moon is above the horizon will be provided. Learn More…

Climate Change Adaptation: Students Have a Role

by Phyllis Grifman and Linda Chilton

As leaders of society’s next generation, teachers foster and facilitate learning and help prepare students to engage intellectually as well as socially. Students can learn the principles of stewardship and conservation and they are inspired to become decision makers and problem solvers today and in the future. This is especially important in addressing climate change. The impacts of climate change require both mitigation, reducing our use of fossil fuels and shifting to more conservative use of resources; and adaptation, preparing our communities to be more resilient in responding to the impacts of climate change. Learn More…

State Science Education Updates

by Laura Henriques

The start of a school year is always a busy time. This year has a great deal more energy around science education than we’ve seen in a long time. The adoption of new science standards has taken place, the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee has begun their work, a few thousand STEM education enthusiasts descended on San Diego for the STEM Symposium, NGSS State Rollout Symposiums are being conducted around the state, LCFF/LCAP legislation allows districts to support science professional development and science standards implementation, and the NSTA Regional Conference in Long Beach is just around the corner.  These are good times for science education in California! Read on to learn how CSTA is involved in these activities and how you too can be involved. Learn More…

50_CSTA_logo_SmallMake your tax-deductible donation to the 50th Anniversary Fund today!

Events and Resources in CSTA’s Region 1

by David Pummill

The Discovery Museum Science and Space Center
3615 Auburn Blvd, CA 95821

Event and Activity Calendar

Winter Schedule: Closed Mondays, Tuesday – Friday Noon – 4:30PM,
Saturday  & Sunday 10:00AM – 4:30PM Admission Rates: $4 — $8
Planetarium  and Family Feature on Saturdays, Sundays & Holidays
Field trips available Monday through Friday


Each weekend from 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., the Museum explores a new science topic through special displays, visiting exhibits and guest presentations—followed by free craft activities for kids 4 to 12 years old! Planetarium shows at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. (ages 4 and older, please)

Creature Features at noon and 2:00 p.m. (all ages) are included with admission

Saturday & Sunday, October 11th & 12th, 2014
Pumpkin Science

It’s the season for Jack-o-lanterns! Some family friendly pumpkin stations are set-up to learn a bit about this squash. Kids 12 and under craft a paper pumpkin to take home as Fall décor. Admission includes these activities, an animal presentation at noon & 2pm, the Blast from the Past exhibit and planetarium shows at 1pm & 3pm (for ages 4 and older). Learn More…

Events and Resources in CSTA’s Region 2

by Minda Berbeco

Free Entry Days at:

Bay Area Discovery Museum, First Wednesday of the month
UC Botanical Gardens, First Thursday of the month
Oakland Museum of California, First Sunday of the month

Hawk Talks, Hawk Hill, Marin Headlands, Every Saturday & Sunday, 12-2pm

Super-cool Science Parties and lectures:

Nerd Nite East Bay, Last Monday of the month

Nerd Nite San Francisco, Third Wednesday of the month

Night Life, Thursdays, 6-10 pm, at the California Academy of Sciences
After Dark, First Thursday of the month, 6-10 pm, at the Exploratorium

Café Inquiry, Firth Thursday of the month, 6pm, at Café Borrone, Menlo Park

Science and Reason with Skeptics in the Pub, Wednesday, 10/22/14 Fiddler’s Green, Millbrae

Highlighted Events in September:

Go Wild! Nature Program for Kids

Wednesday, 10/1/14 4pm

West Valley Branch Library, San Jose

Ever wonder about the San Francisco Bay wetlands and the wildlife in your very own backyard? Join us for an adventure here at your local library. You’ll get up close and personal with real feet and beaks of birds while you play bird games and create your very own wild craft!  Best suited for ages 5-9.

Cost: Free

For more information, visit their website.

Total Lunar Eclipse

Wednesday, 10/8/14, 2-5am

Chabot Space and Science Center, Oakland

The observatory deck opens at 2am for a special presentation about the eclipse. Stay after the presentation for the late night viewing festivities. A Lunar Eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the shadow of the Earth. For this to happen the Sun, Earth, and Moon must be closely aligned with the Moon and the Moon located furthest from the Sun. Bring binoculars, blankets and warm clothes.

For more information, visit their website. Learn More…

NGSS, Classroom Educators, and Informal Education Centers: A Mother’s Point of View

by Christie Sweeney

As a curriculum developer for an informal science institution, I have closely followed the development of Common Core and the Next Generation Science Standards. It is essential that we continue to provide teachers with programs that align with their goals for their classrooms. However, I also have another, more personal reason for my interest in the latest educational reforms: I am the parent of children who will experience these shifts in the middle of their formative education. Learn More…

Getting’ WILD at the Zoo!

by Joanne Michael

I am a big animal lover and have been ever since I was a little girl growing up in Seattle. My father was an ornithologist by hobby and I grew up with neighbors knocking at our door, stunned bird in a box after flying into a window. As an adult, I worked as a ZooCamp Instructor at the Los Angeles Zoo for a summer and during school breaks, and then went through the Docent Program, graduating in spring, 2012. To say I enjoy being around animals is an understatement! Learn More…

2014 Excellence in Environmental Education Awards Presented to Non-Formal Science Educators and Science Fair Students

by Ray Ng

The California Environmental Education Foundation (CEEF) presented the 2014 Excellence in Environmental Education awards to two non-formal science educators at the California STEM Symposium on September 22 in San Diego.

CEEF Board member Rita Bell (director of Education Programs at the Monterey Bay Aquarium) is shown with Brian Brown (State Coordinator of the California Project WET program at the Water Education Foundation), recipients of a CEEF 2014 Excellence in Non-Formal Environmental Education award of a plaque (shown in insert) and $400.

CEEF Board member Rita Bell (director of Education Programs at the Monterey Bay Aquarium) is shown with Brian Brown (State Coordinator of the California Project WET program at the Water Education Foundation), recipients of a CEEF 2014 Excellence in Non-Formal Environmental Education award of a plaque (shown in insert) and $400.

CEEF Board Members Rita Bell, the director of Education Programs at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Dave Massey, Program Director of Exploring STEM Careers Initiative, presented the 2014 awards to Brian Brown, State Coordinator of the California Project WET program at the Water Education Foundation, and Biret Adden, Environmental Education Manager for the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose and Director of the BioSITE Program. Learn More…

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8:00 am Next Generation Science Standard... @ Tehama County Department of Education
Next Generation Science Standard... @ Tehama County Department of Education
Oct 23 @ 8:00 am – Oct 24 @ 4:00 pm
K-12 Alliance/WestEd, California Science Project, California Science Teachers Association, Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee, and the California Department of Education Presents: Next Generation Science Standards State Rollout Symposium #1 Join science leaders at the first of a[...]
12:00 pm Forestry Institute for Teachers + @ James San Jacinto Mountains Reserve
Forestry Institute for Teachers + @ James San Jacinto Mountains Reserve
Oct 24 @ 12:00 pm – Oct 25 @ 2:00 pm
FORESTRY INSTITUTE FOR TEACHERS ALUMNI! It is not uncommon for participants to tell us that we want more at the end of a FIT session – HERE IT IS!! FIT+ is a professional development educational[...]
8:00 am Project WET
Project WET
Oct 28 @ 8:00 am – 3:00 pm
INLAND EMPIRE EDUCATORS! Join the Water Education/Water Awareness Committee for a ‘hands on’ professional development experience introducing you to the interdisciplinary activities of Project WET and their use to integrate water concepts, knowledge of Southern[...]
4:30 pm Stewardship: Water Education fo... @ Think Blue Offices, City of San Diego, Storm Water Division
Stewardship: Water Education fo... @ Think Blue Offices, City of San Diego, Storm Water Division
Oct 28 @ 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Workshop 1:  Grades K, 1, 2 Looking for an environmental education curriculum that helps your students realize the Common Core and Next Generation Standards? Come learn more about Project SWELL! Project SWELL is a hands-on[...]
6:00 pm NightLife at the Academy @ California Academy of Sciences
NightLife at the Academy @ California Academy of Sciences
Oct 29 @ 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Every Thursday night a new adventure unfolds.  Set out with friends on a journey to the stars and to the depths of the sea with a cocktail in your hand and wonder in your eyes—[...]
4:30 pm Science in the River City (SIRC) @ CSUS - Sequoia Hall Lobby
Science in the River City (SIRC) @ CSUS - Sequoia Hall Lobby
Nov 4 @ 4:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Science in the River City is an outstanding standards-based professional development program for 3rd to 12th grade science teachers. The program is designed to deepen teachers’ understanding of science (through hands-on, minds-on labs and activities)[...]
9:00 am CFCC Meeting #3 @ California State Library
CFCC Meeting #3 @ California State Library
Nov 5 @ 9:00 am – Nov 6 @ 4:00 pm
The third of six meetings of the Science Curriculum Framework CFCC. Share/Email:More
5:00 pm After Dark: First Thursdays @ Exploratorium
After Dark: First Thursdays @ Exploratorium
Nov 5 @ 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm
After Dark: First Thursdays @ Exploratorium | San Francisco | California | United States
A ticket to Thursday evening adult-only hours does not guarantee admission to special programs with limited seating. Tickets for limited-capacity programs will be made available to visitors on a first-come, first-served basis. Please Note: Adults Only (18+)[...]
5:00 pm Cafe Inquiry @ Cafe Borrone
Cafe Inquiry @ Cafe Borrone
Nov 5 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Meet up with rationalists, skeptics, and freethinkers south of San Francisco.  Cafe Inquiry is a social event hosted by the Center for Inquiry. We’ll meet at Café Borrone between Kepler’s Books and the British Banker’s[...]
5:00 pm NightLife at the Academy @ California Academy of Sciences
NightLife at the Academy @ California Academy of Sciences
Nov 5 @ 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Every Thursday night a new adventure unfolds.  Set out with friends on a journey to the stars and to the depths of the sea with a cocktail in your hand and wonder in your eyes—[...]

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Top Posts & Pages


NGSS PD Coming to Fairfield and Walnut


CSTA and CASCD have teamed up to bring you and your curriculum developers a one-day professional learning opportunity. Both CSTA and CASCD members may register at member rates. Event dates and location are:

Introduction to the Next Generation Science Standards: A Paradigm Shift in Teaching and Learning
This full-day workshop will highlight the many shifts required of both teachers and learners under the Next Generation Science Standards. In the morning session, participants will engage in an overview of the NGSS and its Three Dimensions. During the afternoon sessions, participants will be invited to experience either a K-5 or 6-12 session. Each of these sessions will further explore the NGSS with an emphasis on the impact it will have within K-5 and 6-12 classrooms. Learn More…

Professional Development in 4-H: A Case for Reform

by Martin Smith, Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty, Andrea Ambrose, and Steven Worker

There is a recognized need to improve the levels of scientific literacy among K-12 youth in the United States (Fleischman, Hopstock, Pelczar, & Shelley 2010; National Center for Education Statistics 2011). To accomplish this will require effective classroom-based science instruction and high quality science programs for youth in out-of-school time settings (Bell, Lewenstein, Shouse, & Feder 2009). Specifically, out-of-school time programs can help advance youth scientific literacy, ignite youths’ interest in science, and reinforce classroom learning by expanding curriculum offerings and complementing formal science instruction (Kahler and Valentine 2011; Mørch and du Bois-Reymond 2006). Learn More…

Earth Science Events Shake Things Up for October!

by Cindy Pridmore

Earth_Science_Week_LogoEarth Science Week occurs October 12-18 this year, and the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) has a website packed full of information and online resources! Last year at CSTA’s 2013 conference, I was surprised at how most teachers I spoke with were not aware of this national and international event and all the resources associated with it. There are so many ways to get your kids involved and lots of online materials, activities, and contests outlined on the AGI website. This year’s theme is “Earth’s Connected Systems,” which aims to engage everyone in exploring the ways that geoscience provides insight into natural change processes. Learn More…