May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Cooperative Extension Invites Participation in Day of Science and Service

Posted: Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

by Steven Worker and Marissa Stein

On May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Smith-Lever Act, which created the world’s first system connecting public higher education with local communities in the pursuit of service to the land and its people. Smith-Lever spawned the Cooperative Extension Service, which strongly tied service, science and citizen participation together in scientific enterprises. The mission of Cooperative Extension has stayed true today: Acting as a bridge between local issues and the power of University research by extending knowledge in communities and developing practical, science-based answers (Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, 2010; Regents of the University of California, 2009).

Nestled within the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) is best described as a vast network of UC researchers and educators who work together to develop and provide science-based information to solve locally relevant economic, agricultural, natural resource, youth development, and nutrition issues. In addition to having UCCE Specialists based at UC Davis, UC Riverside, and UC Berkeley, UCCE Advisors and Specialists live and work in every California County, applying research from the University of California to help local businesses and entire communities thrive. In turn, UCCE experts partner with local innovators to develop and disseminate best practices through UC’s expansive local and global networks. Some of the UCCE programs include 4-H Youth Development, UC Master Gardeners, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, and the Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program.

Logo for the Day of Science and Service

Logo for the Day of Science and Service

University of California Day of Science and Service.

On May 8, 2014, Cooperative Extension celebrates its 100th birthday. In the spirit of cooperation, the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources is asking you to join us for a one-day science project. Take a walk, visit a park or enjoy the beauty of a garden. Paint a picture of California’s food and water resources by marking your responses on our online maps!

Example of the online map for the question: How do you conserve water?

Example of the online map for the question: How do you conserve water?

  • How many pollinators do you see outside?

One-third of the world’s food production depends on pollinators. Bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, moths, beetles, birds and bats help plants reproduce by carrying pollen from one flower to another so a plant can develop its seed. By marking our California map with the locations where you and other Californians see pollinators in your neighborhoods, we can get a better idea of where pollinators are—and are not—across the state.

  • Where is food grown in your community?

Nutritious food is an essential part of healthy growth and a healthy lifestyle. Nearly every community in California contributes in some way to food production, from large farms to backyard gardens. With demand for food supplies increasing, it’s becoming increasingly important for all of us to recognize exactly where (and what) fresh food is being grown. By marking our California food map with the locations of food production in your neighborhood, we can get a better idea of where food is produced across the state.

  • How do you conserve water?

People, animals and plants all need water to survive, yet less than 1% of the earth’s water is available for our use. With each passing day, the availability of clean water is diminishing. As California experiences record drought conditions, now more than ever, every drop counts. Your data will help create a clearer picture of what water conservation practices are used across the state of California.

We will use the information to better understand what’s happening to our food supplies and natural resources across the state. The answers collected will help us build a healthier future for communities throughout California. This is a great opportunity for Californians to participate in UC research, and steer the future of UC research and education efforts.

Free educational activities are available for grades K-12 around water conservation, gardening and nutrition, and pollinators to support the questions outlined above. In addition, links to curricula, UC ANR research projects, and additional efforts around these topics are available on the website.


Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. (2010). 2010 Strategic opportunities for Cooperative Extension. New York.

Regents of the University of California. (2009). University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Strategic Vision 2025. Oakland, CA: University of California.

Steven Worker is with the California State 4-H Office at the University of California’s Division of Agricultural and Natural Resources. Marissa Stein is UC Cooperative Extension Centennial Program Coordinator at the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. They were invited to write by CSTA member Valerie Joyner.

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy:

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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.