January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

March Madness Equals Science Madness in San Diego

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

by Donna Ross

As I write this, our men’s basketball team at San Diego State University is battling for the Mountain West title and they are ranked 21st in the Associated Press poll.  The energy in the arena on game nights is electrifying and the enthusiasm for March Madness is undeniable on our campus.  Across the city, there is another madness taking hold this month, too.  Science!  March has become the science month for San Diego. The sheer number of community members, scientists, non-profits, and educators donating their time to share their passion for science is also electrifying.  Now, if only we could get the science activities nationally televised along with the basketball games! (more…)

Now Is the Time to Be Heard!

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

by Pete A’Hearn

We are about to begin the period for public review of the Next Generation Science Standards (release is anticipated on or around March 30). The process is guided by documents by the National Research Council. Twenty-six states including California have signed on to be part of the development of the standards and to adopt them when complete.  The new standards will represent a big change in how science is taught in California, so teachers should be  following the development closely and giving the feedback that comes with their experience. But few classroom teachers have time to digest and respond to the large amount of material that makes up the science standards. The purpose of this blog is to break it down into chunks and send it out a little at a time.  I will start with the conceptual framework and then move on to the standards when they are available. I will be making comparisons to the current California standards, but science teachers from other states are encouraged to participate. The framework can be downloaded as a PDF from the National Academies Press website at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13165. (more…)

News and Events in Region 2

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

by Eric Lewis

Please let me know if there are things that you’d like to add to our Region’s offerings!  Also, encourage your colleagues to join CSTA.  I’m hoping that we’ll have the opportunity to grow our organization and expand to meet your needs and your colleague’s needs.  To that end, please feel free to email me directly so that I can represent your questions and concerns with the CSTA board as a whole.

You may also want to consider leading a workshop at our San Jose 2012 Education Conference.  For more information and to submit a workshop proposal, click here!  Proposals are due by March 6, 2012.

Eric Lewis, lewise2@sfusd.edu

SETI Institute Colloquium Series: Dispersal of Protoplanetary Disks
1/4/12, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
189 Bernardo Avenue, Mountain View, CA
Protoplanetary disks originate during star formation and evolve rapidly, to form planetary systems before they disperse in a few million years. Dr. Gorti will describe disk evolution and discuss disk dispersal mechanisms in the context of recent theoretical models. Theory will be compared with observations to summarize our current understanding of how disks evolve and the constraints they set on the time available for planet formation.
Speaker: Uma Gorti, SETI Institute
For more information visit http://www.seti.org/talks, email info@seti.org,or call 650.961.6633 (more…)

Governor’s Budget Proposal TAKE NOTE

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

by Rick Pomeroy

Governor Brown’s most recent budget proposal contains a number of recommendations designed to reduce the California budget deficit and bring more order and consistency to the state budgeting process. Unfortunately, one of those recommendations is the elimination of the state mandate that high school graduation requires two years of science. In the language in the current proposal, Governor Brown recommends the elimination of many state mandates as a way of providing school districts with greater flexibility and greater local control. It also has the effect of  reducing the financial burden that education places on the state budget. (more…)

Legislative Update

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

CSTA works hard to make sure educators in California have current information on legislative activity that has potential to impact classroom teachers and student learning. Of course your part as individuals and professional educators is to keep as informed as possible, and speak up to raise awareness in the forums you have a roll in, whether it’s a Site Council, school board or bargaining unit meeting, or your colleagues and friends in your community. (more…)

News and Events in Region 1

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

by Valerie Joyner

The New Project WET – Workshop!

Saturday, February 4, from 9:30-3:30

The new Project WET is here!  This fully revised color guide has 64 multidisciplinary water-related activities for students K-12.  The “cornerstone” of Project WET is its methodology of teaching about water resources through investigative, hands-on, easy to use activities.  (more…)

California Skies for February and March 2012

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

by Robert Victor

These are great months for viewing bright planets in the early evening! Students will enjoy following brilliant Venus and Jupiter through their closest pairing on March 13, and viewing four planets simultaneously in late February and early March. During Feb. 22-Mar. 7, the moon forms attractive early evening groupings with four of the five bright planets and three of the five bright zodiacal stars. After returning to the early evening sky on Mar. 23, the moon sweeps past four bright planets during Mar. 25-Apr. 6. (more…)

Something for Nothing!

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

by Rick Pomeroy

By the time this article hits the e-waves, you will have missed one of the great opportunities to get something for nothing. Well maybe not nothing but definitely for free. With a little planning, you won’t miss the next chance.

By now, you maybe wondering, “What is he talking about?” You guessed it, short course and workshop proposals for the 2012 California Science Education Conference to be held October 19-21, 2012 in San Jose.  It has been the policy of CSTA to offer members free conference registration to the lead presenter of each short course and each workshop offered at the annual conference.  As I have eluded to in the opening paragraph, the deadline for submission of proposals for 3 and 6 hour short courses was midnight, January 31, but the deadline for one-hour workshops isn’t until March 6.  This means that you still have a chance for a free registration to the 2012 conference (approximately $100 value).

For many attendees, the offer of free registration makes the difference between being able to attend the conference and not attending.  From what I have been told, this is not just a monetary issue, though $100 is nothing to sneeze at.  Presenting at a conference is an example of professionalism. Sharing what you do and what you have learned, is one of the highest forms of service that teachers can perform. Some administrators recognize the value of your involvement in a conference as a presenter and thus are more likely to approve of and in some cases support your conference attendance. (more…)

Check an Apple for Pollination

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

by Camilla Barry

Major Science Concept: Successful pollination results in seed production.

Subject: Botany (more…)

Green Curriculum Institute: Discounts Available for CSTA Members

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

The sixth annual Green California Summit will be take place on April 26-27, 2012 in Sacramento. Taking into account the strong attendance from the educational community that the Summit has seen over the years, we’ve added new offerings for educators to the Summit.

On April 27, in partnership with the California Environmental Protection Agency, we will be offering a day-long Green Curriculum Institute focused on California’s new Education and the Environment Initiative Curriculum. This K-12 environmental literacy resource is the first of its kind in the nation, and is approved by the State Board of Education for use in classrooms statewide. (more…)

News and Events in Region 4

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

by Peter A’Hearn

Among other things, CSTA’s Region 4 is earthquake country. Fractured, splintered, folded, twisted, earthquake country. Our students need to be prepared, but many have never experienced a really scary shake, so its hard to get them to take an earthquake seriously. When you do an earthquake drill, do they understand why they are supposed to get under their desks? Here are some pictures of a school in El Centro, California taken after the Easter 2010 earthquake. The 7.2 quake happened on a Sunday, so no one was at school.


Now that they understand why they are supposed to get under the desk, you can go to the animations put together by the Southern California Earthquake Center at http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/nca/simulations/shakeout/. They have views of how the shock wave from a simulated earthquake would travel across Southern California in real time. The simulations have views from different locations, so you can pick one close to your school. Enjoy and be prepared.

Pete A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is region 4 director for CSTA.

Click here to search for events in the region.

Evidence: It’s Not Just for Science Labs

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

by Lisa Hegdahl

You enter the science classroom.  As you walk around, you see students working diligently collecting and analyzing data; creating data tables and graphs.  While writing final thoughts, students use evidence to draw conclusions.  Since the very first science class, students have used collected evidence to support their statements.  Students can also use evidence to explain how they come up with answers to every question they encounter in class.

This subtle approach to checking for understanding in my classroom took shape one year when students reviewed for their chemistry final exam.  The difference between elements, compounds, and mixtures was a topic explored at length approximately a month before the test.  Frustrated that some students were identifying substances as compounds that were clearly on the periodic chart, I started asking students to give evidence for how they decided a substance was an element, compound, or mixture.  Not only did this approach compel students to think about why they answered a certain way, it allowed me to understand how students were coming up with the answers to the questions. (more…)

What Is It January Explanation

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Courtesy of Alan Boyde (a.boyde@qmul.ac.uk)


It is Osteoporotic Bone. Low power scanning electron microscope image, showing osteoporotic architecture in the fourth lumbar vertebra of an 89 year old woman (x20). The bone is heavily eroded in places by the action of osteoclasts and consists mainly of thin, fragile struts. By kind permission of Alan Boyde

Responses from readers:

Rene Buchanan: Spongy bone?

Christy Zimmerman: bird bone?

Helen de la Maza: Bird bone

Daniel Dougherty: This is a thin section Electron micrograph of transportation tissue if a plant.

What is it?

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

February 2012 Photo of the Month


Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Science on Saturday – Now Online

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will be broadcasting the coming Science on Saturday events live online:

You are invited to tune in and submit questions online for the presenters to answer by using the chat box online, or with Twitter using the #ScienceOnSaturday hashtag. Video recordings of the events will be available online for on-demand viewing after the events.

Ever wonder what goes on behind the fences at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory? Here’s your ticket to take a virtual field trip to see exciting, state-of-the-art science, presented by world-class scientists…and you won’t need a security clearance to see it.

Here is how:  Watch a LIVE broadcast of the Science on Saturday lecture series starting Saturday, February 4 at 9:30 a.m. and again at 11:15 a.m. PST. (more…)

Governor Brown’s Proposed Budget Could Be Bad News for Science Education

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

by Jessica L. Sawko

In his recently proposed budget for 2012 – 2013, Governor Brown proposes to reform K-14 education mandates by eliminating nearly half of them. One mandate that he is recommending for elimination is the Graduation Requirements mandate that requires students to complete two years of science in order to graduate from high school. The proposed budget refers to this as an “unnecessary mandate.” The proposal goes on to state that “local districts may choose to continue these activities at local discretion.” (p. 140) Click here to view the Governor’s Budget Summary – 2012-13 K Thru 12 Education.  CSTA asks you to note that this is the first draft of the budget and there is work still to be done.  As our colleagues at the Association of California School Administrators stated: “The governor’s budget proposal is only the beginning of the yearly budget debate and discussion.  Often in January, stakeholders tend to overreact to proposals which seem dire and certain to be implemented. Even as ACSA reviews the governor’s proposal, it is challenging to keep the perspective that this is the first iteration of a budget that is likely to see some change in the coming months.”  Please read on to learn more about the issue and possible implications. CSTA will continue to monitor this issue and bring you updates as they are available.  (more…)

Student Energy Survey

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

by Gerard Katz

Over the next three months an anticipated 8,000 secondary school students are expected to participate in the National Student Energy Survey.  I want to provide you with information on how your students can be participants in the national and state survey.  (more…)

MERLOT’s Content Builder: An Exciting and Powerful Tool for Science Teaching

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

by Jaime Arvizu and Sara Meadows

MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching at www.merlot.org) is a cooperatively developed, free, web-based resource where teachers and their students can easily find a wealth of peer reviewed, digital learning materials and resources. Created by the California State University System in 1997, the MERLOT digital library collections contains literally thousands of learning objects across many disciplines, including over 5,000 high school resources alone.  With individual free membership approaching 50,000 and growing, MERLOT has become a dynamic online learning community where people around the globe contribute materials, evaluations, lesson plans/student learning assignments, personal collections, and peer reviews of online resources used in education.  Visit and join MERLOT at www.merlot.org. (more…)

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