January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

President’s Message

Monday, August 1st, 2011

by Rick Pomeroy

It is the beginning of August and time to start transitioning from summer vacation to the start of the school year. It is time to put away the shorts and flip flops, tool belts and paint brushes, beach novels and travel maps, and begin to think about lesson plans and activities, objectives and standards, students and exciting ways to engage them in our passions for science. Like the changing seasons, August always awakens a bit of wonder about what is to come.  Will it be a good year, will my students really get it this year, will they be excited to learn new things, will I be able to provide the right environment for them so that we are all engaged in challenging and worth while learning experiences? (more…)

News and Events in Region 2

Monday, August 1st, 2011

by Eric Lewis

It’s unbelievable that August is already upon us. In San Francisco Unified, school starts in just two weeks; so much for summer!

As you are all gearing up for the coming school year, take some time to think about what parts of your curriculum you’re hoping to improve and what parts of your curriculum you’re going to throw away! I know we are all guilty of reusing some of our old activities and labs – and we should, since much of it is great. That said it’s our duty as teachers to meet the needs of our students. Sometimes that means putting ourselves into situations where we’re the learners and our students are the experts. (more…)

New Curriculum from Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Monday, August 1st, 2011

by Missy Wipf

We’d like to invite you to learn more about an exciting new curriculum being offered by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and to take part in our teacher workshop on Saturday, August 20, 2011 at PRBO’s Headquarters in Petaluma, CA, and subsequent nation-wide field test. (more…)

President’s Pick: Cloud in a Bottle

Monday, August 1st, 2011

by Rick Pomeroy

Purpose: The purpose of this activity is to model cloud formation in a 2 liter clear, colorless soda bottle through the process of adiabatic cooling.

Content: Clouds form in the atmosphere when the amount of water vapor that the air can hold exceeds the capacity.  When the capacity of the air to hold the water is exceeded, water molecules condense on small particles to form clouds.  Various factors affect the capacity of the air, primarily temperature and pressure. Most people have witnessed the condensation of water vapor due to drops in temperature (fog on car windows is an example) however few ever realize that as pressure drops, the capacity of the air to hold water in vapor form decreases.  This factor accounts for the formation of summer thunder head clouds near mountains.
For instance, in July when warm moist air from the Sacramento Valley rises over the Sierra Nevada, it condenses into ice crystals that appear as clouds.  This is largely due to the decreased pressures at high elevations as well as cooling. (more…)

Build a Coral Polyp

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Courtesy of the California Academy of Sciences


3rd – 5th Grade


Life Sciences


Ecological Relationships, Habitats & Ecosystems, Plant & Animal Structures


10 min Prep + 35 min Activity


National Framework for K-12 Science Education Overview

Monday, August 1st, 2011

by Heather A. Marshall

If you have not heard yet, the new National Framework for K-12 Science Education came out in late July from the National Research Council.  You can download the framework here.  I have looked at the framework and reviewed their published overviews so that I can give you an overview of the framework.

The overriding visions of the National Research Council (NRC) are science for all students and coherent learning.  They have three dimensions to direct their vision: scientific and engineering processes, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas. Some of this includes developing and using models, asking questions and defining problems, planning and carrying out investigations, and more.  Their idea is that students will DO more science instead of rote learning of science concepts.  Students should come up with their questions, plan an investigation, and develop the model to test their ideas.  The team came up with “Disciplinary Core Ideas” for physical, life, and earth and space sciences and engineering, technology, and applications of science. (more…)

Grading Attitude and Effort: A Rubric for Classroom Management

Monday, August 1st, 2011

by: Heather A. Marshall

I recently found this rubric for grading attitude and effort in the classroom (link below). This rubric enables teachers of any subject and any grade level to evaluate students not only on content, but their attitude and behavior. This may not be as useful in lower grade levels, but in high-school, there are many kids who have an “I don’t care” or “I can’t do this” attitude toward learning. I am hoping to use this rubric to help the kids that don’t understand how their attitude affects learning. If they can see what they are doing, and the resulting consequences, maybe it will help them more. This would be used in conjunction with assistance during class to help to show them they can succeed. (more…)

Clean Tech Competition

Monday, August 1st, 2011

NSTA is collaborating with Applied Materials, headquartered in Santa Clara, CA, on the newly launched Clean Tech Competition.  The competition engages youth in real world problem solving activities that illustrate the powerful potential of clean technology to address critical global challenges impacting humankind.  The inaugural year’s Challenge will involve young people in two of the world’s most historic centers of innovation—the San Francisco/Bay Area and Xi’an, China.   The competition will engage youth of all skill, ability and interest levels in these regions in a common challenge to highlight the roles that science and technology and the strategy of design play in solving problems that transcend national boundaries and to help prepare students for success in life.  Teams in each region will compete for $17,000 in cash prizes. The competition is open this year to students ages 13-18 who live and attend school in the San Francisco Bay area. (more…)

2010-2011 K-12 Northern California Geological Society Teacher of the Year

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Congratulations to Heather Marshall, earth science teacher at Sobrato High School in Morgan Hill, CA and high school director of CSTA! (more…)

What is it?

Monday, August 1st, 2011


What is it July explanation

Monday, August 1st, 2011

This is a Sand Collar, a cluster of eggs laid by a Moon Snail. The snail surrounds itself with a layer of gelatinous mucous, which contains thousands of eggs. The shape of the Sand Collar tells you how large the snail was. When they are freshly laid, they are very rubbery, but when they dry, they crumble into sand.

Photo copyright 2011. Robert Krampf. Source: http://thehappyscientist.com/blog/science-photo-day-560

Responses from readers:

Ken Pitts: I believe this to be a broken nautilus shell on a beach.

Chris Cameron: Moon snail egg case.

Beverlee: It is an eroded sand dollar on the beach.

Sarah Palmer: Yep, Moon snail egg mass, should be under water!

Krystal: Perhaps a bell from a Jellyfish?

Your Official Guide to the California Science Education Conference

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. (more…)

Meet Your New Board Members

Monday, August 1st, 2011

The CSTA board of directors is pleased to announce the winners of the 2011-2013 CSTA elections. Returning to the board in their previous capacities are Marian Murphy-Shaw, secretary, Dean Gilbert, region 3 director, Michelle French, primary director, and Valerie Joyner, region 1 director. New to the board are Lisa Hegdahl, middle school/junior high director and Grahme Smith, informal science director. CSTA welcomes Laura Henriques back to the board in her new position, president-elect.

New CSTA Board Members


Community College and K-12 Working Together Through CSTA…

Monday, August 1st, 2011

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

As of this issue CSTA will have a new Two-Year College Board member – still TBA as I write this – who will bring the voice of California’s Community Colleges to the table whenever CSTA meets at a conference or board meeting. There a not many arenas in California education where K-12, Community College, and other higher education partners meet together, and I feel fortunate to be involved in more than one of them as part of my role in education. (more…)

A Conversation with Helena Carmena Young of the California Academy of Sciences…

Monday, August 1st, 2011

by Eric Lewis

I was lucky to catch Helena in between her work meetings and travels to the Trinity Alps to find out what kinds of things are going on over in Golden Gate Park.  For those who don’t know, Helena is the Senior Manager of Teacher Education at California Academy of Sciences.  While you probably won’t find her on the floor of the museum, you will find her pushing teachers to build their science knowledge through innovative programs and activities.  Over some delicious Vietnamese food in a small restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District, I got to ask her about a variety of Academy goings-ons… (more…)

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