September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Greetings from Your New Director in Region 1

Posted: Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

I wanted to begin my new term as CSTA Region 1 Director with a brief introduction and then some highlights from our region. I am Marian Murphy-Shaw, I currently live about as far north in California as you can get, in Mount Shasta City. I am entering my 15th year with Siskiyou County Office of Education as an Educational Services Director. Prior to that I taught for 10 years in grades 5 through 12 both in Siskiyou and Alameda counties, I worked as an intern on a controlled life support system at NASA Ames and proudly attended Mills College, then CSU Eastbay (Hayward State back then). I have to take a minute here and thank my Hayward faculty advisor Dr. Stronck for introducing me to CSTA!

Back then I never pictured myself on the CSTA Board of Directors, and I want to remind other educators to consider joining the board – especially classroom teachers. It is a great connection to science education, fabulous colleagues, and is not exclusive to any type of experience. Just do it! I enjoyed my prior role as secretary and look forward to this new role communicating with and about CSTA Region 1.

Region 1 is huge. It includes Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolomne, Yolo, and Yuba Counties! I look forward to hearing from CSTA members and our many science colleagues in this vast area about events, projects, science centers, STEM partnerships, you name it! Share with me please, and we can let science educators Pre-school through college know what is happening in their region.

Back to school time (August through September) is a hectic time for teachers as well as exciting. Planning your year is a big part of that- whether it’s field trips or your own professional learning. Below are some resources to help get you started. Some events in our region may still be a few months away, but in order to plan for them, get your subs, and coordinate with others you may attend with, now is the time to start planning so you can get to the events you see as best serving your students and schools. Science professional learning will be coming at us fast and furious, so get ready!

Far North NGSS Roll Out 2 – November 2-3, 2015

Scheduled for Red Bluff at the Tehama County Department of Education, this is the furthest north of the 8 currently scheduled events statewide. Please limit your district teams to 4-6 people. This will allow for additional districts to participate as space is limited. Ideally, teams should include an Administrator or Curriculum Leader in addition to Teacher Leaders. These sessions build on last October’s NGSS Symposium 1, so teams are encouraged to bring teachers who attended that event.
Register online

Leadership Matters! Symposium #1– September 2, 2015

“Ignite Learning with a Growth Mindset”
Presented by: Jennifer Lawson, Ed.D. and Emily Diehl
The Mindset Works company is based on “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol Dweck, Ph.D.

The growth mindset, the understanding of intelligence and abilities as qualities we can develop, has been shown over and over to have powerful ramifications on student motivation and learning, and school success. Participants will explore several tools, resources, and strategies to deepen their understanding of mindset’s role in schools as well as how to:
1. change their mindsets and
2. cultivate growth mindsets in students.

Breakout for Teachers: Applying Growth Mindsets in K-12 Classrooms
In this session, teachers will explore teaching and assessment practices that cultivate growth mindsets. Teachers will view resources and models and work to apply the concepts to their specific teaching assignments.

Breakout for School Leaders: Leading Change with a Growth Mindset
In this session school leaders will learn about what it takes to begin the journey of creating growth mindset school cultures. Administrators, Coaches and Teachers who influence and lead are all encouraged to attend and work to apply these concepts to their specific assignments and needs.
Register online with the Tehama CDE

Located in Bidwell Park in Chico, CA the Chico Creek Nature Center provides an excellent and accessible opportunity to teach valuable lessons of the natural world and the need for stewardship of the environment. For over thirty years the center has provided quality educational programs on the natural systems of Bidwell Park to elementary school students and the general public, using Bidwell Park as a classroom. Our Naturalists on staff bring academic backgrounds in sciences to programs aligned with standards established by the California public school system. Call (530) 891-4671 for more information or to book your field trip today!

Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding, CA offers a wide variety of educational programs that will fascinate your students with exciting hands-on activities that correspond with California state curriculum. More than 14,000 visitors a year experience our school tour programs, from northern California, western Nevada and southern Oregon, to learn about the Sacramento River region, science, art, history, forestry and horticulture. For more information about California state curriculum requirements or to schedule a field trip call 530-242-3108

ScienceWorks, located in Ashland, OR offers an experience for school groups like no other in far northern California and southern Oregon. The Field Trip Program is designed to spark student interest in science, support instruction of content and process standards, and provide a fun, multi-sensory environment that encourages discussion and collaborative learning. ScienceWorks staff members and trained volunteers guide students through a program that includes labs, demonstrations and team investigations. We hope to see your class here soon! You can start your trip registration online. If you have any additional questions that were not addressed here, please feel free to contact us at 541-482-6767 x226.

Bay Area Science Festival – October 22 –November 7, 2015
Though technically Region 2 many of you are close enough to make use of this resource.

The 5th annual Bay Area Science Festival returns this fall with over 50 events throughout the Bay Area. Be entertained, be educated, and fall in love with science all over again. Over 200 science, technology, and engineering organizations will present the fun and excitement of science through hands-on, interactive exhibits, science-themed performances and demonstrations, and family-oriented entertainment. Participating organizations range from leading research institutes and universities to high tech companies, museums and community organizations. Full festival schedule will be released on 9/8/15.


Workshops for Science in the River City (SIRC)
Location:  Sacramento State University
6000 J St.
Sacramento, CA 95819

Thursday, October 15, 2015 –  4:30-6:30
Tuesday, November 10, 2015 –  6:00-8:00
Tuesday, December 8, 2015 –  4:30-6:30
Tuesday, January 26, 2016 –  4:30-6:30
Tuesday, February 23, 2016 –  4:30-6:30
Tuesday, March 29, 2016 –   4:30-6:30

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.

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California Science Assessment Update

Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

by Jessica Sawko

In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.

At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at 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.

Some ways to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in your classroom

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

by Carol Peterson

1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. 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.

2016 Award Recipients – Join CSTA in Honoring Their Accomplishments

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference  on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!

Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award

John Keller

John Keller

The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” 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.

NGSS: Making Your Life Easier

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Peter A’hearn

Wait… What?

NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?

The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Celestial Highlights, September 2016

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt 

Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. 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.