May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7


Posted: Saturday, October 30th, 2010

by Paul Ferreira

The first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, heralded the beginning of the popular environmental movement.  Today, forty years later, it has become the premier event focusing attention on environmental and environmental education issues all over the world.  But back then, it passed me right by as I concentrated my energy on graduating college as a biology major that spring.

How could this happen, you think?  Well, there was a lot on my mind at that time.  We were still involved in the Vietnam War, I was engaged to be married, I was wondering what I was going to do for a job and where was I going to live.  So I hope I can be excused for being oblivious to this infant movement that was slowly bringing attention to the needs of the environment.  It wasn’t even on my radar.

My first job with a local park and recreation district eventually led to a 40-plus-year career in parks, recreation, interpretation, and environmental education, but it wasn’t until a job change in 1972 that I attended my first Earth Day event.  I was now an aspiring interpreter/environmental educator, but I was working in isolation, devoid of stimulation and oblivious to the larger picture of where the environmental movement was headed, who was involved, and the potential for activism in its many forms.  The BAEER Fair changed all that for me.

I attended my first Bay Area Environmental Education Resources Fair (BAAER Fair) in 1979.  The following year I was invited to join the BAEER Fair planning committee.  In the ensuing thirty years, my awareness of environmental issues, how I could become involved in helping to address them, and who was out there doing the work of education, conservation, and activism, all came about to a great degree because of the BAEER Fair.

The BAEER Fair opened doors for me and provided opportunities to meet others involved in the profession and learn about other organizations doing environmental and outdoor education.  And the BAEER Fair can do this for you too.  As a supervising naturalist with the East Bay Regional Park District, I was able to support, participate in, and benefit from the BAEER Fair in a number of valuable ways.  Working on the planning committee, I was able to help guide the direction of the fair.  This also provided me with opportunities to promote the fair among my co-workers and professional colleagues.

At the same time, I was also the lead staff member responsible for the park district’s information table at the fair.  The park district saw the BAEER Fair as a valuable marketing and outreach tool where we could reach many hundreds of teachers and educators throughout the nine Bay Area counties each year that may be new to environmental education and unaware of the services and programs our agency had to offer.  This of course is the underlying value of the Fair as a whole—an invaluable resource for classroom teachers needing resources, activities, and curriculum to help them teach about the environment.

The BAEER Fair also allowed our agency to advertise for job vacancies through its job board, where, along with many other organizations and agencies, we could post job descriptions for current and future job opportunities.

Additionally I found the BAEER Fair instrumental in helping me to establish and maintain my contacts in the environmental education field.  The annual Fair made it possible for me to reconnect with long-time friends and make new friends working in the profession.

I also saw the BAEER Fair as a means to train staff.  With the 12 to 16 breakout sessions offered each year, there are ample opportunities to learn about the latest curriculum and resources available.

The BAEER Fair offers us a bridge between the teaching community and educational resources throughout the region.  It’s a great place to get connected!

BAEER Fair #34 will be held on January 22, 2011.  The event takes place at The Marin Center in San Rafael.  Full details are available on their website

Paul Ferreira is supervising naturalist (retired) with the East Bay Regional Park District.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

2 Responses

  1. Great article!
    I worked with Paul at the EBRPD for over 20 years and would love to get in contact with him.
    If there is a way that you can forward my information to him, I would greatly appreciate that.
    (I assume you can see the email address above.)
    Thank you, Tony Smith

  2. Dear Tony,

    I will forward him your email. Thank you for reading!

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Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here:

Please contact Rosanne Luu at or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.