January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2


Monday, July 1st, 2013

California Science Teachers Association
950 Glenn Drive, Suite 150
Folsom, CA 95630


California Classroom Science (CCS), published twelve times per year, is CSTA’s source of news and information for and about teachers of science.

California Science Teachers Association
950 Glenn Drive, Suite 150
Folsom, CA 95630
Email: csta@cascience.org

Executive Editor:
Jessica Sawko

Copy Editor:
Carolyn Holcroft

Circulation Manager:
Connie Morrill

Advertising Sales Manager:
Jessica Sawko
Email: jessica@cascience.org
Advertising information may be found on the CSTA website at http://www.cascience.org/csta/pub_ccs.asp.

Publications and Materials Review Committee:
Carolyn Holcroft, Co-Chair
Valerie Joyner, Co-Chair
Judith Aguilar
Fred Nelson
Jeanine Wulfenstein
Laura Henriques, Ex Officio

Contributors and CSTA Board of Directors:

Laura Henriques, President
Long Beach, president@cascience.org

Lisa Hegdahl, President-Elect
Lodi, lhegdahl@galt.k12.ca.us

Rick Pomeroy, Past President
Woodland, jrpomeroy@ucdavis.edu

Marian Murphy-Shaw, Secretary
Mt. Shasta, mshaw@siskiyoucoe.net

Heather Wygant, Treasurer
Los Gatos, geofaultline@gmail.com

Valerie Joyner, Primary Director
Petaluma, v_joyner_99@yahoo.com

Sean Timmons, Intermediate Director
Stockton, setimmons@sjcoe.net

Jill Grace, Middle/Junior High School Director
Palos Verdes, grace@mac.com

Jeff Orlinsky, High School Director
Irvine, jorlinsky@cox.net

Carolyn Holcroft, 2-Year College Director
Mountain View, holcroftcarolyn@foothill.edu

Greg Potter, 4-Year College Director
Elk Grove, gpotter@pacific.edu

Mary Whaley, Informal Science Education Director
Monterey, mwhaley@mbayaq.org

Valerie Joyner, Region 1 Director
Petaluma, v_joyner_99@yahoo.com

Eric Lewis, Region 2 Director
San Francisco, lewise2@sfusd.edu

Fred Nelson, Region 3 Director
Fresno, fnelson@csufresno.edu

Jeanine Wulfenstein, Region 4 Director
Temecula, jwulfenstein@tvusd.k12.ca.us

Robert C. Victor, Contributor

Peter A’Hearn, Contributor

Executive Director: Jessica Sawko

Folsom, (916) 979-7004, jessica@cascience.org

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What is it April Explanation

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Photo_April_SmallIt is a photo of:

“SOL Grotto, 2012. 1368 glass tubes, paint. Fabrication: Matarozzi Pelsinger, Rael San Fratello Architects. SOL Grotto is a contemporary take on a grotto or Throeau’s cabin – a spartan retreat that is a space of solitude and close to nature – where one is presented with a mediated experience of water, coolness and light. The SOL Grotto also explores Solyndra’s role as a company S#@t Out of Luck. 1,368 of the 24 million high tech glass tubes destined to be destroyed as a casualty of their bankruptcy, are used in the installation. The tube’s original role as a light concentrating element is extended to transmit cool air into the space via the Venturi effect, to amplify sounds from the adjacent waterfall via the vibrations of the tubes cantilevering over the creek, and to create distorted views of the garden. The form of the electric blue array evokes Plato’s Allegory of the Cave where shadows, light and sounds can call reality into question.”


Responses from Readers:

Peter A’Hearn:  Rush hour in little blue circle land.

Full image:



What is it March Explanation

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Photo_March_SmallIt is a close-up of some gemmae on a Pygmy Sundew plant. Gemmae are modified leaf structures that can detach, form roots, and grow into a new plant. This is a type of asexual reproduction called “fragmentation.”

Responses from readers:



Full image:


What is it February Explanation

Friday, March 1st, 2013


It is the eye of young Mediterranean horse mackerel, Trachurus mediterraneus, prepared using standard clearing-and-staining techniques. Cartilage is stained blue via alcian blue, tissues are cleared via trypsin, and bone is stained red via alizarin red. One of ten specimens in the University of Kansas collection. Image taken using an Alexis Scientific Clearshot 600 SLR-to-microscope eyepiece camera adapter on my Leica S8 APO dissecting microscope.

Full image:


Photo Credit: Nancy Holcroft-Benson

Responses from readers:

Cynthia Cudaback: giant eyeball, probably from a squid. It washed ashore a few months ago. I think it was in Florida.

Lorraine Buckleycetacean eye

What is it January Explanation

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Photo Credit: Berenice Abbott, Courtesy of the MIT Museum, Cambridge, MA


The title of this photo is Interference Pattern.

About Berenice Abbott:  In 1939 Abbott began her most ambitious photographic project. Believing scientific phenomena to be as valid a subject for artistic statements as man and his works, she undertook to prove that photography was the medium uniquely qualified to unite art with science. She labored alone for nearly twenty years with little or no encouragement until finally, in 1958, her work was recognized by the Physical Science Study Committee and she was hired to work with that group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for three years. In this period, spanning twenty-two years, Abbott produced thousands of photographs in formats ranging from 8″ x 10″ to 16″ x 20″ and designed and patented a good deal of scientific equipment, including two cameras. Abbott’s scientific photographs are her most significant and in years to come they will perhaps be recognized as her outstanding accomplishment. Source:  http://www.commercegraphics.com/Science.html.

Responses from readers:

Damone Tighe:  Looks like an old wave and flash image from a darkroom. Place an emulsion in the bottom of developer or water, cause a wave patttern by dipping something in the solution and hit the paper with a flash from above the solution.

Peter A’Hearn:  the interference pattern of waves when a vibrating tuning fork is touched to the surface of water- beautifully lit!

Scott Hays:  either the antenna of a water crawler touching the surface of a pond OR a back entrance into the Twilight Zone …



What is it December Explanation

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Photo credit:  Gary McDonald

Image Source:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcduck/3593833994/

It is a close-up of the rhinophores of this Flabellina iodinea which was found at Sand Dollar Beach, Monterey Co., CA; 27 May 2009; 48mm total length.

Responses from readers:

Peter A’Hearn:  Moth Antennae

Brenda DeLuna:  It’s the gills of a nudibranch. I think the spanish shawl

Dick Filson:  My thinking is that this is a pair of antennae belonging to a moth

Christopher Cimino:  Nudibranch rhinophores

Laura Holland:  I also think it is moth antennae

Stephen Lentz:  probably gills of a Nudibranch

Esther Nah:  the rhinophores of a spanish shawl nudibranch

Mandy:  Is it a nudibranch?

Alice Poulson:  Hypselodoris apolegma – or at least a close cousin….

What is it November Explanation

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

November Photo of the MonthYou were right, it is a pumpkin. More specifically a Porcelain Doll F1 Hybrid Pumpkin.

Responses from readers:

Dick Filson: My guess is that this is a view of a squash or other pumpkin relative. It would be appropriate for October.

What is it October Explanation

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

It is the “Egg” of a stinkhorn fungus, Clathrus ruber. It’s also known as the latticed stinkhorn. In this picture, you can see the initial form of the fruiting body.

Responses from readers:

Candy Sykes: a hailstone

Cindy Price: a mushroom

Azn Kid: Looks like a ball of web…

What is it September Explanation

Monday, October 1st, 2012

It is a grape vine knuckle, the place on a grape vine where it is pruned repeatedly.

Responses from readers:

Cap: Coprolite.

Alice Poulson: Looks like a couple of lichen species on bark.

Paul Detwiler: lichens on tree bark.

What is it August Explanation

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

Image courtesy of Carolyn Holcroft.

Answer: These are liverworts: http://www.backyardnature.net/liverwrt.htm.

The picture has both cupules and receptacles.

Responses from readers:

Dawn O’Connor: Brylophytes

Sue Black: Dawn’s right – it is a bryophyte. Specifically, this lovely plant is a liverwort! On it we can see several gemmae (“GEM-mee”) cups containing bits of new liverwort for asexual reproduction. Up here in the Northwest, we see lots of liverworts! Rain splashes onto the gemmae cups and disperses the liverwort bits!

Peter A’Hearn: A Martian life form as photographed by the Curiosity Rover. :-).

Brian Brown: Liverwort (Bryophyte) thallus with reproductive structures (gemma cups and archegoniophore)

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.

What is it June Explanation

Monday, July 2nd, 2012


Olympicene is part of a family of compounds related to single-layer graphite, also called graphene, that have shown some practical promise in the fields of optics and electronics.

Photo courtesy of PopSci.

For more information about how this molecule was created and photographed visit http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-05/scientists-photograph-olympicene-smallest-five-ringed-molecule.

Responses from our readers:

Rick Pomeroy: is it the pattern of fire around the core tubes in a boiler?

ZT: Electron microscopy of carbon nanotubes, perhaps? and Graphene or carbon nanotubes.


What is it May Explanation

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Photo of the MonthThey are tube worm casings. Photo courtesy of: http://pdphoto.org/PictureDetail.php?mat=pdef&pg=6835.

Responses from readers:

Dorrit: Baby octopus hatching nest.

Michael Keith: Tube worm

Whitney Thwaite: These are the shells of tube worms that live in the ocean.

Judy: Brittlestars

Peter A’Hearn: Tube worm casings on rocks in a tide pool

Paul Detwiler: There are two marine species in the photo; both construct calcareous tubes to house themselves. The larger tubes belong to the scaly worm snail Serpulorbis [probable species = squamigerus (Vermetidae: Mollusca)] and the tiny white spirals are the tubes of the polychaete Spirorbis sp. (Serpulidae: Annelida).


What is it April Explanation

Monday, April 30th, 2012

For the month of April, the interesting aspect of the photo has more to do with how it was taken vs. what it is.

The photo was taken by a student, Alliana Munguia, at Cathedral City High School during a lichen study in Joshua Tree National Park. She came up with the idea of using a smart phone camera to take pictures through a loupe or a magnifier.

The yellow lichen is Acarospora socialis. The orange-yellow one (not much) is a Candelariella, mostly likely Candelariella aurella. – Kerry Knudsen, Lichenologist, UCR.

Responses from readers:

a. hernandez: The photo shows lichen with a ruler next to it.

Erik Cross: Ahhh the ever mysterious lichen, not sure which species though.

What is it March Explanation

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Photo courtesey of Donna Ross.

It is steel wool – magnified.

Responses from readers:

Ed Mascio: Macroscopic view of plastic material i.e. a scrubber used to clean dishes in the kitchen at 30x.

Peter A’Hearn: Magnesium ribbon or some other metal turnings.

Rick Yessayian: Ha ha ha…Looks like a “Brillo” pad up close.

What is it February Explanation

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

February 2012 Photo of the MonthPhoto courtesy of Carolyn Holcroft.

It is a juvenile Cephalotus follicularis pitcher. This guy is also known as a West Australian Pitcher plant. The photo was taken with a macro lens, the actual pitcher is only about a centimeter wide.

Responses from readers:

Tara Crow: Cepholatus – the Australian Pitcher Plant! One of my favorites.

Stacy Brennan: A dandelion blossom.

Liz Mitchell: Young Venus fly trap plant that is still developing?

Anna Cordes: Pitcher plant.

Darrell: The beginning of a fungus fruiting body.

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 December Explanation

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

The flower of a poinsettia plant.

Responses from readers:

Dick Filson: This seems seasonally significant as it appears to be the sexual parts of a Poinsettia.

Carolyn Reese: Poinsettia plant

Rick Yessayian: The actual “Flower” of the poinsettia. The larger red part, thought to be the flower are just modified leaves.

What is it November Explanation

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

A solar system gift for teacher Michelle French, created by her first grader – with her own time and initiative. For details, please read last month’s article Science Education in Primary Classrooms.

Responses from readers:

Marisela Moreno: One of two things.. the Solar System or Bohr Model…Let me know…

Ken Meshke: painted styrofoam balls and toothpicks structure.

Reyes Ribera: Styrofoam balls represent cell’s organelles structure.

Carolyn Reese: Some poor student’s solar system that the teacher had to give a passing grade just for the effort?

Lisa Watkins: The amoeba on the particle on the leg on the flea of a styrofoam blue crab.

Michelle Miller: cell membrane

What is it October Explanation

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

A ballroom chandelier from the Pasadena Convention Center.

What is it September explanation

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Micrograph of  an arachnid insect using compound microscope. Magnification 200X.  ** Note: Shallow depth of field.

Responses from readers:

Sean Timmons: Epidermis?

Harry Post: The eyes/head of an arachnid.

Rick Pomeroy: I think it is the back of a fly.

Richard Moore: It’s a frog’s hairy upper lip that is seriously infested with black lady bugs.


What is it August explanation

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

This image was taken using an electron microscope. It is of the radulas of a nudibranch.

The image was taken by Kristen Roberts, a graduate student working at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

Responses from readers:


Keith Thompson: Snail radula?

Krystal: a radula?

Robert Bethune: Sharkskin?

Jen: Serrations of Shark Teeth?

Ted Hampton: Electron Microscope view of shark or ray (skate) skin

Rose James: It’s the scale on a butterfly wing

Kevin Keedy: Looks like an electron micrograph of some sort of carnivorous mollusk’s radula. Do I win something? :>)

Thank you to all who participated!

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?

What is it June explanation

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

It is lightning.

The European Space Agency’s Paolo Nespoli took this image of lightning over Brazil as seen from the International Space Station in January 2011. Nespoli, a member of the Expedition 27 crew, first visited the station in 2007 as a member of the STS-120 crew aboard space shuttle Discovery to deliver the Italian-built Harmony node.


Photo Credit: ESA/NASA

Responses from readers:

Kathy Burkholder: It looks like a Nebula

Tom Carson: It is a nebula in which a star has recently ignited so the dust clouds have not been blown away. Possibly some planets will form.

Thank you to Tom and Kathy for participating last month!

What is it May explanation

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Photo of the Month It is a breast cancer cell.

Responses from readers:

Rick P. I think it is some sort of scanning em of nerve cell.
Bill J. Actinosphaerium (sp?) relative of Amoeba in the Sarcodines. that’s whats coming out of a 40 year old part of my brain called “invert zool class”.
Krystal P. Cancer cell.

What is it April explanation

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Photo of the Month It’s a view of the sun through a hydrogen alpha telescope.

Responses from readers:

Carolyn B. A water fowl of some kind, swimming in the tsunami muck.
Anonymous Closeup of sun surface
Sherry Shapiro A close-up of a sunspot.
Henry Moon Close up, of the sun with solar prominence.
Carolyn Reese Looks like a sunspot.

What is it March explanation

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Photo of the Month“Blue Button”

Credit: Robert Krampf, the Happy Scientist

Explanation: This is a Blue Button (Porpita porpita), a type of colonial hydrozoan related to the Portuguese Man-o-War. While it looks like a jellyfish, it is actually a colony of tiny creatures attached to the chitinous disc, which is hollow and filled with air to let the colony float. It does have stinging cells, which can be irritating, but are not dangerous to people. It is very similar to Velella velella, the by-the-wind sailor, but it does not have the small sail like the sailor.

Responses from readers:

Dawn Upsidedown By-the-wind sailor jellyfish, Velella velella
Jeff I agree – V. vella, a hydrozoan jellyfish.
Vicki Wawerchak Porpita porpita, blue button jellyfish. Not a true jelly.
Paul Porpita, a neustonic jelly.

What is it?

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Feb. photoSubmit your guess and check back next month for the answer.

The answer to last month’s photo.


Saturday, January 1st, 2011


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