January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Neil A. Armstrong: 1930 – 2012

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Saturday, August 25, 2012

“We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.

“Neil was our loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.

“Neil Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job. He served his Nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. He also found success back home in his native Ohio in business and academia, and became a community leader in Cincinnati.

“He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits.

“As much as Neil cherished his privacy, he always appreciated the expressions of good will from people around the world and from all walks of life.

“While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.

“For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”


Further information may be found at www.neilarmstronginfo.com.

Science Assessment in CA – What are your thoughts?

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

One of the most common questions CSTA has received from its members, and the science teacher community in general, when talking about the future of science education is: “what about science assessments?”.

The answer, in short, is that there is currently no answer, and the subject is currently under discussion. Well now there is an opportunity for you to weigh in on the future of science assessment in California!   (more…)

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2012 State Finalists for Prestigious National Teaching Award

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has named six outstanding teachers as 2012 California State Finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

The science nominees are Nathan Richard Fairchild, a science teacher at North Woods Discovery Charter School in the Gateway Unified School District, Shasta County; Michelle French, a first grade teacher at Wilson Elementary School in the Tulare City Elementary School District, Tulare County (and CSTA’s Primary Director!); and Alma Suney Park, a sixth grade teacher at Eastside College Preparatory School, a private school in East Palo Alto, San Mateo County. (more…)

What is it?

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012


What is it July Explanation

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

The Swedish 1-m Solar Telescope captured this image of an approximately 8,000 kilometer by 8,000 km region on the sun’s surface. Scientists observed Alfvén waves oscillating from the bright spot near the middle of the image, a highly magnetized area.D. JessMagnetic waves theorized to transfer heat from the surface of the sun to its atmosphere have been directly observed for the first time, researchers report in the March 20 Science.

Responses from readers:

  1. Matt Silberglitt :
    The arrow points to a single “granule” on the surface of the sun. The granule is the top of a convection current, where hot plasma puffs upward.
  2. Nick Reeves:
    I thought this was a picture of the venus transit taken by the new NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). However, when I saved the picture to use it in a google image search I found out that the name of the picture was a big hint and using the picture for a google image search took me right to the answer. Since I didn’t come up with the correct answer on my own I’ll leave it for others to try.

Chiming Spoons

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

by Valerie Joyner

What better way to start the school year than with a science investigation?  It’s a great tool to set the tone for a year full of science and at the same time help students get to know each other.  One of my favorite first day of school science (more…)

eXtreme GreenLab

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

by Bethany Dixon

“Put your hand into the tank, and they’ll eat off the dead skin.” NASA senior research scientist Dr. Bilal Bomani demonstrates and a swarm of mollies nibble his fingers.  Teachers look warily at the rows of massive saltwater tanks. Following Dr. Bomani’s example, we plunge our hands in. It tickles. Since its mission is to develop in-house capabilities to study biofuels as a renewable, alternative energy source for aviation fuel, the eXtreme GreenLab at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland is an unlikely place for hand treatments.  In May, the NASA Explorer Schools program selected 50 teachers out of the 2,800 registered NASA Explorer teachers for special recognition and the “Research Experience of a Lifetime:” an all-expenses-paid trip to work with NASA investigators in the field at one of four NASA sites (and get a free exfoliating hand treatment).  I was one of the twelve teachers who worked in the GreenLabthis summer, and here is how you can begin to implement “eXtreme Green” practices in your classroom this fall.

eXtreme Green Advisory Board Teachers (Bethany is kneeling in the front)


Exhibit Hall Information for 2012 Science Education Conference Available Now!

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

by Lisa Hegdahl

Over the past few months, you’ve been kept up to date about the ongoing planning for the 2012 California Science Education Conference that will be held in San Jose on October 19-21.  So far, we’ve shared registration information, an online brochure, and online scheduling.  Information about all of these can be found on the CSTA website.

Did you know that you can also view a map of the Conference Exhibit Hall and get information about vendors who have already booked booths? It’s easy! Just go the CSTA website, click on the 2012 Conference link, then Exhibit Hall, then Current Floor Plan. When you hover your mouse over booths marked in orange, the name of the organization that has purchased that booth will appear. Click on the booth to get more information such as links to the organization’s website and e-mail address.  (more…)

Selected Sky Events for August 2012

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

by Robert C. Victor

Events for August 7, 13-14, and 20-21 are illustrated below. For illustrations of additional events, refer to the Abrams Planetarium Sky Calendar. Subscription information is available at www.pa.msu.edu/abrams/skycalendar. Here are the selected sky events for August, along with some questions to prompt discussions with students: 

  • Wed. Aug. 1, one hour after sunset: Saturn and Spica are now within 4.5°, forming a nearly isosceles triangle with Mars, within 8° to their west. On Aug. 3, Saturn passes conjunction with Spica in celestial longitude for the third and last time during this apparition. They reach least separation of 4° 27’ apart on Aug. 6 and won’t appear that close again until 2041.  (more…)

Tips for New Teachers: Back to School

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

by Judith Aguilar

As a brand new teacher, setting up your new classroom and preparing for that first day of school can be an emotional roller coaster. You’re excited to meet your students and you’re brimming with new ideas, yet you also feel a little nervous and don’t want to forget anything important. It’s easy to begin with the most obvious needs, and you’ve probably already been obsessing about how you’ll set up your room, prepare the seating arrangements, what to put up on your walls, and the organization of your teaching materials and supplies. These are all significant, but perhaps the most essential element to consider when preparing for the new school year is classroom management. A good plan should include not only rules and consequences, but also routines and procedures. Setting these daily, weekly, and monthly routines are a must to keep you as well as your students on the track to success. (more…)

Swimming, Fluid Dynamics, and the Olympics

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

How To: Monitor State Legislation

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Membership in CSTA includes educators in a legislative advocacy network that many do not realize works for them every day. When I began my science teaching career in the 1980’s I knew of CSTA as a group who put on a great conference. It was not until the CA Framework for Science renewal process occurred that I realized CSTA was also a resource for me, as the sole science credentialed teacher at my site, to help inform my colleagues and principal about what was expected in CA science classrooms. That awareness led to my noticing CSTA provided much more than conferences! As a member, I had articles and research and advocacy all rolled up in one. (more…)

Discussion Forum

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

by Valerie Joyner

This is the beginning of some very exciting times in educational teaching standards! The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have made one draft appearance earlier this year. A Framework for K-12 Science Education is also out in print and ready for implementation, as are our new California Common Core State Standards (CCCSS).  All three of these documents are going to have major impacts on the way we teach and prepare our students for their future. (more…)

The Metric System Stair-Step Conversion Practice

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

by Amanda L. Smith

Gardener’s: Linguistic; Visual-Spatial; Bodily-Kinesthetic; Interpersonal; Logical-Mathematical
Bloom’s: Knowledge; Comprehension; Application

CA State Standards:
Investigation and Experimentation (Middle School grades 6-8)

Anticipatory Set/Objective:

  • Students will be able to: State the values of and abbreviations for each of the prefixes used in the metric system.
  • Students will be able to: Convert from one subunit to another subunit within a given unit of the metric system.


2012 California Science Education Conference Field Trips

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

by Heather A. Wygant

The California Science Education Conference is in San Jose this year on October 19-21 2012, and we’d love for you to join us for Professional Development, collaboration with science teachers across the state, and fun field trips!  This year we have four field trips planned:

Then, on Saturday, October 20 we have, “Monterey Bay Aquarium Visit,” and on Sunday, October 21 we have, “Living Wetlands- Environmental Education,” at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.  (more…)

What’s Going on in Region 1?

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

by Valerie Joyner

Field Trips, Presentations, and Workshops:

This year consider looking for local organizations, universities, non-profits, informal science centers and other programs to provide your students with positive learning opportunities and field trips.  There are several available in Sonoma Country, CSTA region 1: 

  • The Marin/Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District offers an excellent in-class educational experience for 2nd graders to see and learn about the life cycle of mosquitoes and their control.  Contact:  800-231-3236.
  • Petaluma High School Wildlife Museum offers classroom tours of the museum and extension activities for elementary students.  Contact:  707-778-4787.
  • The United Angler’s of Casa Grade High School, in Petaluma, offers tours of their facilities to students interested in learning about their environment and how they can preserve it.  Contact:  707-778-4703.
  • Sonoma State University, Department of Biology offers a variety of field trips, programs and tours including “Insecta Palooza”, Osborne Elementary Field Program, and Entomology Education Programs.  Contact: ssu.preserves@sonoma.edu.

Valerie Joyner is a retired elementary science teacher and is the CSTA’s region 1 director.

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