January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

What is it June explanation

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

It is lightning.

The European Space Agency’s Paolo Nespoli took this image of lightning over Brazil as seen from the International Space Station in January 2011. Nespoli, a member of the Expedition 27 crew, first visited the station in 2007 as a member of the STS-120 crew aboard space shuttle Discovery to deliver the Italian-built Harmony node.


Photo Credit: ESA/NASA

Responses from readers:

Kathy Burkholder: It looks like a Nebula

Tom Carson: It is a nebula in which a star has recently ignited so the dust clouds have not been blown away. Possibly some planets will form.

Thank you to Tom and Kathy for participating last month!

What is it?

Thursday, June 30th, 2011


Chemistry of Fireworks

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Your Wait Is Over!

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

by Jessica Sawko

Registration is now open and on-line for the 20th annual California Science Education Conference. Celebrate the end of the school year by buying yourself the best gift any science teacher could ask for, registration for the only California science standards-aligned professional development conference designed by and for California Science educators. The conference will be held October 21 – 23, 2011 at the Pasadena Convention Center. Your three-day registration includes access to over 175 workshops; a series of fantastic focus speakers; evening events; the exhibit hall filled with resources, discounts, and freebies; and the opportunity to meet and collaborate with fellow science educators from all over the state.

Registering before August 1 can also save you money. CSTA members (paid through November 1, 2011 or later) receive the best rate possible, only $98 for a full registration. Nonmembers can join today and save $11 vs. registering at the nonmember rate. Click here for complete information regarding registration rates.

When your register for the conference, be sure to purchase a ticket for the Awards Breakfast: “A Breakfast with Food Sleuth Shirley Corriher – What’s on Your Table?” (more…)

What is it May explanation

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Photo of the Month It is a breast cancer cell.

Responses from readers:

Rick P. I think it is some sort of scanning em of nerve cell.
Bill J. Actinosphaerium (sp?) relative of Amoeba in the Sarcodines. that’s whats coming out of a 40 year old part of my brain called “invert zool class”.
Krystal P. Cancer cell.

What is it?

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011


Events for Sky Watchers, Summer 2011

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

with a look ahead at sky events in school year 2011-2012 and beyond

by Robert C. Victor

In both June and July, an entire cycle of lunar phases, from the first thin waxing young crescent at dusk to the last thin waning old crescent at dawn, fits neatly into each calendar month, June 2 to 30, and July 2 to 29. The invisible new moons occur on June 1, July 1, and July 30, with partial solar eclipses visible in remote places in the first two cases. (more…)

Local Biotech Companies Help Low-Performing Schools Teach Science

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

A science lab class is about to begin at Ronald McNair Academy in East Palo Alto on a recent Tuesday morning and the universal seventh-grader’s mien says, “I couldn’t care less.”

Visiting scientists Paul Sauer and Mary Varghese from the Redwood City-based biotechnology company OncoMed are telling the students about natural selection. (more…)

Arne Duncan on CTE

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, spoke to the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) on April 19 at the Marriott Washington Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. He called for the field of CTE to take its “enormous, if often overlooked impact on students, school systems, and our ability to prosper as a nation … [and] strengthen [its] rigor and relevance and deliver better outcomes for students.” (more…)

Age of Mammals – Global Processes

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

This video is shared with permission from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. (more…)

What Do Math, Science, and Brownies Have in Common? Lab

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

by Jeff Bradbury

Question: As an item of food is eaten, does this change its mass, volume, or density? (more…)

Intel International Science and Engineering Fair

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

by Dean Gilbert

The week of May 8-13, 2011, Los Angeles hosted and welcomed over 8,000 students, parents, teachers, and guests to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the world’s largest high school science research competition and a program of Society for Science & the Public.

This year, more than 1,500 young scientists were selected to compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. They were selected from 443 affiliate fairs in 65 countries, regions and territories, including for the first time France, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Macao SAR of the People’s Republic of China. This was the first year the California State Science Fair joined the ranks of Fair affiliates.

More than 400 finalists received awards and prizes for their unique and outstanding work. Awards included 17 “Best of Category” winners who each received a $5,000 prize. The Intel Foundation also awarded a $1,000 grant to each winner’s school and the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair-affiliated fair they represent.

Congratulations and best wishes are extended to the California student winners, in addition to our thanks and gratitude for the ongoing support they receive from teacher mentors and parents. (more…)

Region 2 News and Events

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

by Eric Lewis

The summer is upon us, though we’re still grappling with our lingering winter weather. As a person who is critical of weather forecasting – especially living in San Francisco where there weather can be vastly different a mile in any direction – I’m always listening when I hear people talk about the weather and their own predictions. (more…)

Thank You and Farewell

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

by Tim Williamson

It’s hard to believe that two years have gone by so quickly!  As my presidency comes to a close, I would like to reflect on a few of the challenging issues that we have faced, and say thank you to some wonderful people who have helped me along this fast-paced, ever-changing, and incredible journey.

Unfortunately, as most of you know, the downturn of the economy did not spare us. As a result, CSTA has gone through some structural and financial transitions over the past two years. With the help of our experienced and knowledgeable executive director, Christine Bertrand, your CSTA Board of Directors took on the difficult task of balancing our budget during these severe economic times.   (more…)

Events in Region 1

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Gargani+ Company, Inc. an independent evaluation firm  is looking for science teachers to work with us on scoring science content ( essays and teaching videos) this summer. The tentative dates for this project are:

  • June 20-24 for essay scoring
  • July 5-15 for video scoring

The hours are 9-4 each day, the pay is $20 per hour. The location will be Sac State ( exact location to be determined). Please contact Uda Olabarria walker uda@gcoinc.com for more information.

Forestry Institute for Teachers
Need inspiration? Need new material?  Not getting enough time to check out new curriculum during the school year?  This may be what you’re looking for!

June 12 – 18: Plumas County
June 25 – July 1: Tuolumne County
July 10 – 16: Humboldt County
July 17 – 23: Shasta County

The brochure here highlights fantastic summer workshops, one of which is right here in our own backyard (near Shingletown). The Forestry Institute for Teachers (F.I.T.) is a nationally recognized standards based program that will leave you informed and inspired. They are still accepting applications, but spaces are filling up fast! Check it out! http://www.forestryinstitute.org/

CSU Chico and CA Science Project:

CSP is happy to present our one-week summer institute:  Science of Climate and Climate Change on July 18 – 22.

Program includes:

  • Stipend – $500 for attendance all 5 days
  • Materials – Handouts and lesson plans
  • Lunch – provided
  • Network – priceless contacts and valuable connections to others teaching science

Please go to the following website for more information and the application:  http://www.csuchico.edu/cmse/index.shtml

California Science Project of Inland Northern California  Center for Mathematics and Science Education CSU, Chico 530-898-4322

Sara and Ellen Talk About Testing

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

by Sara and Ellen

As the end of the school year approached, I thought it best to allow Sara and Ellen to finish their years without my asking for another article. But alas, they wanted one more opportunity to pass along some new teacher wisdom to others.  They decided to write about testing, both the CST experiences at their sites and how finals were handled. What you see below are their thoughts about CSTs and final exams.

California Standards Tests

Sara: Our school year started at the beginning of August, so by the time the CST’s came around in mid-April, I had already taught my students 95% of the material they needed to know. This was great because my students came back after the test feeling very confident and told me that the test was actually very easy. Of course, I will need to wait until I see their scores to see if that was really the case. The students were scheduled for four days of testing: Tuesday and Wednesday in two consecutive weeks, one test each day. This seemed to work out fine; but we did not have any shortened days. Instead, the students tested in the morning, then had to go to each class. By the time they got to class, they were exhausted, and getting through any material was impossible. I feel like everyone would have benefited from having minimum days during testing.

Ellen: Because our school is on the 4X4 schedule, the students take four classes in the fall and four different classes in the spring; our schedule was very weird. The students in the fall had already learned 100% of the material by early January. However, they hadn’t seen any chemistry since then. The students in the spring were about 70% through the material, and that was rushing them along. So, I decided to hold review sessions after school for three days. I sent notes to all my students from fall and made the sessions worth extra credit points for those who attended. Surprisingly, I had a lot of students show up from both semesters and we were able to review all of the material. I do not know how much this actually helped the students, but at the very least, the students said they felt better about taking the CSTs. I am looking forward to see how the students do on their tests, and hopefully will see a positive pattern for those who turned up at the review sessions.

Final Exams

Sara: Our finals schedule was a bit hectic because we had to make sure that seniors took their finals early. Since my classes are mixed grades, I gave my final early to all of my students, which then gives the students a couple days after to do all the yearbook signing and relaxing that they have been longing for. All of our finals are written by the district, so all I need to do is make sure the scantrons get to the district office. Then, the district posts the scores online so that I can enter them into my grade book. This makes final week go by very smooth for me because I don’t have to do much work. However, the common assessments are terrible because cheating runs rampant and I lose all of the freedom to give my own final.

Ellen: As for the finals schedule at our school, we have two-hour final blocks on two minimum days. So, the last three days are minimum days. Day one are periods 1 and 2 final blocks. Day two are periods 3 and 4 final blocks. Day three, students go to all of their classes for less than an hour. This serves as a way to have any students who were absent take their finals and to wrap everything up. While it is a “throw away day” I love it. This day allows for teachers to tell students their final grades, allow yearbook-signing, and some goodies to be shared. while this might seem a little elementary, it is a really fun day for teachers and students to wrap-up the school year.

Rick: I want to thank Sara and Ellen for their willingness to share their first year teacher experiences with us this year. As we move forward in our careers, we need to remember what it is like to be at the beginning of our careers. There are so many things to remember, lessons to plan, students’ names to learn, procedures and policies to implement, and the entire culture of the school to adopt. It is not an easy task. Sara and Ellen have done an admirable job of sharing their thoughts and questions with us.  I look forward to following their careers as they mature into the outstanding teachers that I know they can be.  Please take a moment and add a comment at the bottom of this article or send an email to SaraandEllen@gmail.com.  I am sure that they will appreciate your encouragement as they move into year 2.

Classroom Management at Any Grade: Why You Should Not Shush the Kids

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

by Heather Marshall

I ran across an article this week, and it really hit me that I am doing some things wrong in terms of classroom management! I am not modeling to my kids how I expect their behavior to be in various situations. As a result of my not setting clear boundaries for volume during different activities, I often find myself shushing them. After reading the article summarized below, I realized I have to change what I do to make class run more smoothly, and keep me from having to raise my voice to be heard. I wanted to pass the essence of this article along to CSTA members because I am hoping it will help others as it has helped me. This will work for any age level of kids. I tried it after I read the article at the end of the year, and it worked immediately with my high schoolers!

The basis of the article is that shushing the students is not good. If you have to shush them, you as a teacher, have not modeled what the volume level should be. Shushing means your classroom management has gotten out of your control. We as teachers often expect our kids to just know when they are supposed to use indoor or outdoor voices, and when they can or should be talking, and when it is not appropriate to talk. But if we do not model it for them, and teach them what we expect, we will end up shushing them. I know I do! (more…)

Pollution Prevention Week 2011 Video Contest

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

In celebration of National Pollution Prevention Week (September 19-23), the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and the Western Sustainability and Pollution Prevention Network (WSPPN) are inviting entries for the Pollution Prevention Week 2011 Video Contest.

What is Pollution Prevention? It’s generating less solid and hazardous waste, using less toxic chemicals, conserving water and energy, and reducing air pollution.

The Pollution Prevention Week 2011 Video Contest is about the power of every individual to make a difference by showing how “It Starts With Me!”  Create a short video that shows how making small changes in your daily life can have a big, positive impact on the environment and public health.

The winner’s video will be screened at the 2011 San Francisco Green Film Festival!

For more video contest rules and information, visit our Web site at:  www.dtsc.ca.gov/pollutionprevention/p2week.cfm

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