January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Engaging in Collaboration & The Two-Year College Option

Monday, June 20th, 2016

by Marcus Tessier

For many of our students, two-year colleges offer an important option for transitioning from K-12 to four-year colleges. And for other students, two-year colleges provide important coursework for career trajectories. I’ve attended three community colleges throughout my academic tenure and certainly will affirm the value of coursework that led to a teaching career in science.

Nearly all educators will support the value of student access to content rich learning environments. We pursue education because most of us see ourselves making a difference for others and being an active participant in having a positive impact on the lives of others. For those of us who share a love for science, we see possibilities. These possibilities lead to career options, perhaps in STEM, or maybe we simply understand the importance of supporting a world where STEM literacy creates a better world for all of us. Though we all have different perspectives on how to create these outcomes, we might, however, all agree that these outcomes are worth pursuing. (more…)

New CSTA 2-year College Director Introduction

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Marcus Tessier

Marcus Tessier, CSTA’s 2-Year College Director

by Marcus Tessier

I hope all of you had a relaxing winter break. My name is Marcus Tessier and I’ve just been appointed as the new 2-year College Director for the California Science Teachers Association.  As I begin my duties, I want to provide you with my background and goals for my new position. Since 2001, I’ve been teaching science in an affluent and demographically diverse schools in Northern California. I am a graduate of U.C. Davis with a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and earned a M.A. in Education Leadership from CSU Chico. Currently I teach Middle School Science for Benicia Unified School District and serve on the District’s Curriculum Council advising efforts to implement the Next Generation Science Standards. I’ve also served Twin Rivers Unified School District as a Teacher on Special Assignment where I led the curriculum coordination of K-12 Science, Physical Education, and Health content areas. Most recently, I’ve developed and now present the Next Generation Science Standards professional development series for the Solano County Office of Education. (more…)

Students Speak Out About Using iPads in the Classroom

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

by Prof. Jeff Bradbury, Cristina Flores, and Lily Shen

My original intent was to write an article about how useful iPads are in the chemistry classroom.  Last year my school (Cerritos College) purchased several classroom sets of the devices.  I thought the tools would be useful in helping my students create “digital lab reports” using apps like Explain Everything™ or Educreations™.  There are also some good apps specifically tailored to chemistry content, such as Mols Editor©.  I was going to write this article from my teacher perspective until my good friend Laura said, “Have the students write the article.”  So, I invited students Cristina Flores and Lily Shen to write about their experiences with iPads in their education. I am sure you will agree that students often have a very powerful voice.  (You might even finish reading the article!) (more…)

Increasing Awareness of Common Core Standards Among Community College Faculty

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

by Carolyn Holcroft

The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) is a nonprofit organization that seeks to advance community college education in California. Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations grants the ASCCC authority to represent community college faculty to the California Board of Governors (BOG) and the Chancellor’s Office, serving as a unified faculty voice in matters of statewide concern. In keeping with this purpose, the ASCCC holds two plenary meetings each year. These provide community college faculty with opportunities to discuss issues facing California educators, and the meetings culminate in a formal resolution process to advise ASCCC leadership on how to represent CCC faculty to the BOG or Chancellor’s Office. (more…)

CSTA Welcomes Our New Two-Year College Director

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

CSTA is pleased to announce the appointment of Carolyn Holcroft to the position of two-year college director. Carolyn is a biology professor at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. She holds a PhD in Molecular Genetics/Microbiology from the University of Kansas and a BSN from the University of Kansas Medical Center. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Carolyn serves as an Academic Senate for the California Community Colleges (ASCCC) Statewide Curriculum Committee member.  Prior to Foothill College, Carolyn was an assistant professor at the University of Kansas School of Nursing. She worked for several years as a Level II RN in a neonatal intensive care unit. (more…)

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…)

Chemicals and Their Properties Lab

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

by Jeff  Bradbury and Patricia Buchanan

Name ____________________

Date _____________________

Partner’s Name ____________

Question: The work of a crime scene investigator (CSI) is to identify certain found liquids or solids in an investigation, how could we find out the identity of an unknown substance?

Purpose: To learn how to classify matter and its changes.

Part 1 Introduction:

Background Information:

1) A pure substance is a sample of matter that has a definite, fixed composition, and the same properties throughout the sample.  Each pure substance has its own set of characteristic properties. (more…)

Acids and Bases Lab

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

by Jeff Bradbury and Patricia Buchanan

Name ____________________

Date _____________________

Partners’ Name ____________

Question: When using materials to clean our house, are the products used usually acidic or basic, Why do you think so?

Purpose: To determine the importance of acids and bases while measuring the pH of different substances.

Part 1 Introduction:

In this lab you will be working in groups of two.

Acids were first recognized as substances that taste sour (The sour taste of lemons and limes is due to citric acid), will dissolve certain metals, and will dissolve some types of rocks.

Bases were characterized by their bitter taste and slippery feel (Hand soaps and toothpastes, for example).

A neutral solution is neither basic nor acidic.  Acids and bases will react together to form neutral solutions.  One can say that an acid will neutralize a base and vice-versa.

Indicators are substances that change color depending on whether they are in an acidic or basic solution.

In today’s lab you will observe some characteristic chemical and physical properties of acids and bases.


Safety goggles must be worn at all times. Hydrochloric acid, HCl, and acetic acid, HC2H3O2 can harm eyes, skin, and clothing.  Handle with care.  Any acid spilled on the skin or splashed into your eye should be rinsed with a large volume of water. NaOH and NH3(aq) solutions are corrosive to the skin and can harm your eyes.  Any base spilled on the skin or splashed into your eyes should be rinsed with a large volume of water.

Measuring pH with pH (Universal indicator) paper:

In your spot plate, obtain a sample (half-fill the wells) of each of the solutions shown in the table below.  Dip a small (1cm) piece of Universal Indicator paper into each well.  Record the color of the paper and match the color to the pH scale on the tube of paper.

Measuring pH with cabbage juice:

Make sure there is no Universal Indicator paper in the solution wells.  Obtain a piece of purple cabbage (one leaf) from the reagent bench.  Break it up into small pieces and boil it in about 150 ml of de-ionized water in a 250 ml beaker.  Add 15 drops of the cabbage juice extract to each of the wells of your spot plate.  Make sure you add the same amount of extract to each well.  Record the color of each solution.

Complete the table that compares the colors of each pH indicator at each pH

Table 1: Chemicals and their pH

Solution Color of cabbage juice Color of pH paper pH
.1 M HCL
.01 M HCl
.001 M HCl
.1 M NaOH
.01 M NaOH
.001 M NaOH
Orange Juice
Distilled water
Tap water
Lemon juice

Compare your results with others in your group. Re-test those that are different.

Dispose of all solutions into the sink.

Complete the table showing the color of cabbage juice at each pH. 1-14.

Cabbage juice color pH

Acid Base Notes

Properties of Acids and Bases
Chemistry of Acids and Bases

Questions and Answers:

1.       Which substances had different pH’s than you expected?

2.       Why are acids and bases important?

3.       Were the household cleaners basic or acidic or both?

4.       What does pH mean to you now?

Jeff Bradbury is a professor of chemistry at Cerritos College in Norwalk and is community college director for CSTA; Patricia Buchanan is the Cal Grip Grant Project Assistant at Cerritos College. The original idea for this activity came from the Los Angeles County Office of Education 15 years ago, which the authors modified.

Liquids, Solids, and Water Lab

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Name __________________

Date ___________________

Partners’ Names _________

by Jeff Bradbury and Patricia Buchanan

Question: Water is unique in that it is the only natural substance that is found in all three states: liquid, solid (ice), and gas (steam).  What are the molecular differences between each of the states? (more…)

Kinetic Theory Lab

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

by Jeff Bradbury and Patricia Buchanan

Question: All of these individual experiments found in this lab relate to one another. In knowing this, what one property of gases is demonstrated in the following experiments? (more…)

Energy in Chemical Reactions Lab

Friday, October 1st, 2010

by Jeff Bradbury and Patricia Buchanan

Name ____________________

Date _____________________

Partner’s Name_____________

Question: Food provides us with energy to live, but how much of this energy can actually be found in a single peanut?

Purpose: To determine the heat of a chemical reaction.

Part 1 Introduction

Background Information:

1.       What is a calorie?

A Calorie is a unit of heat.  It is the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius.  You will actually measure the calories of a food product and compare this to the calories on the container.  Food Calories usually have an upper case C.  1 Calorie = 1000 calories.  Today you will measure calories and then convert them to Calories.

2.       How are heat and temperature different?

Temperature is the average amount of kinetic energy contained in the molecules of a substance.  It is measured with a thermometer and the units are degrees Celsius.  Heat is the total amount of energy in a sample of substance.  It is measured indirectly and the units are calories.

3.       How is heat measured?

To measure calories in food, for example, the food is burned in a combustion chamber.  The heat from the combustion reaction of the food is used to raise the temperature of a sample of water.  Knowing the mass of the water and the temperature change of the water the heat gained by the water can be calculated using the following equation:

M X C X ΔT = Heat change in the water (q)

M is the mass of the water.  Δ T is the final temperature of the water—the initial temperature of the water (Δ T means change in temperature).  C is a constant called specific heat.  It tells how a particular substance absorbs heat.  All substances absorb heat differently.  It takes one calorie of heat to raise the temperature of one gram of water one degree Celsius.  C for water is 1 cal/g oC. (more…)

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