January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Diverse Experiential Science Abounds in Region 1

Posted: Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

by Valerie Joyner

We live and teach in a remarkable region full of natural wonders, biodiversity, and ecosystems.  From the arid high deserts of Modoc County, to the foggy redwood forests of Humboldt County, to the frigid alpine lakes of Trinity County, and on to the craggy granite outcropping of the Sierras, local science opportunities and experiences await our students.  What a great region to teach life, earth, and physical science!

As the school year begins, and we set our curriculum in place, it’s the perfect time to brainstorm opportunities for enriching our science curriculum.  Taking our students to structured science discovery centers creates lasting memories, but there are also infinite opportunities for our students to experience hands-on science within our own locale.

Life science topics lend themselves well to a local approach.  For one example, I like to start the school year by bringing a sample of local lichen into the classroom.  The students observe the sample, and I ask them what they think it might be.  After some discussion (science talk), I share with them other samples of lichen I have collected throughout California.  The students continue to observe and explore lichen and begin to develop a sense of inquiry that stimulates their interest in science.

Local animals also offer unique opportunities for students to develop their understanding of science concepts and processes.  The monarch butterfly is an example of a local animal that students can observe going through metamorphosis in just a few weeks.  Teachers can gather monarch eggs on milkweed plants in the summer and allow their students to experience the life cycle of a monarch first hand.  Though we often think of monarchs as endemic to the central and southern coast of California, they are also found along the southern edge of our region.

Outside the monarch’s range, teachers can substitute less well-known local invertebrates in the study of life cycles.  Start by browsing online resources such as The Bug Guide or the butterfly site hosted by UC Davis (listed in the accompanying Online Resources section) to select species that are common locally and get an idea of how long their life cycles they are and how to care for them.  Most caterpillars are plant-eating specialists, so if you can find out what sort of leaves they like, they can be as easy to care for as the perennially popular monarch.  Consider talking to local gardeners, farmers, nursery personnel or the county agricultural extension office to collect ideas on which local insects are numerous, interesting, and easy to find and care for.

It’s not only indigenous plants and animals that we can use to strengthen our students’ interest and learning in science, but local examples from the physical and earth sciences are available as well.  It can be tricky to organize meaningful local physical science field trips, but talk to local people and expand your field of possibilities.  Visits to local musicians, chefs, and craftspeople can give kids a chance to reexamine simple things like the vibrations of instruments, the physics of cooking, and the mechanical advantages of tools in a new scientific light.  Even a trip to a park can become an exploration of the kinetics of swings and teeter-totters.  By walking a faultline, examining simple machines on a local farm, or studying velocity and deposition in streams, our students feel and see a connection between science and their everyday lives.

We all know the importance of hands-on experiences in supporting and enriching science education, but we must also remember to make these experiences as relevant to the students as possible.  By using local cliffs, watersheds, plants, and animals we not only assist our students in their development of science concepts and processes, but impart to them a passion for science and its impact on their lives.  I hope you will collaborate with your colleagues and local experts and explore the opportunities your area has to support your science curriculum.  Sometimes it’s connecting their learning to the simple things in students’ world that develops their long-term understanding and appreciation for science.

Online Resources:
Life Science
What’s That Bug?
Bug Guide
Art Shapiro’s Butterfly Site
UC Berkeley Essig Museum of Etymology California Insect Survey

Earth Science
USGS California Geo-Tour: Geologic Field
Trip Guides of California

General Field Trip Lists
Food Related Field Trips in NorthernCalifornia
Guide to California Field Trip Resources
Family Days Out in California

The STRAW (Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed) Project

Are you looking for a science-based community service project for your students?  Then you might want to consider tapping into the STRAW Project.  STRAW operates through the Bay Institute, with a network of students, teachers, watershed restoration specialists, and community partners to carry out watershed studies and restoration projects in Sonoma, Napa, Solano, and Marin counties.  Over the past 18 years students have participated in over 275 STRAW restoration projects.  The students have worked on rural and urban creeks, planted over 25,000 native plants, and restored more than 20 miles of creek banks.

For more information contact:
The Bay Institute
695 De Long Avenue, Suite 100
Novato, CA 94945

(415) 878-2929 Phone
(415) 878-2930 Fax

News from Upper Northeastern California (Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Shasta, Siskiyou,ehema, andTrinity counties)

The upper northeastern counties in our region are busy making plans for the upcoming year.  Marian Murphy-Shaw, local science lead and regional member to the state Science Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee, reports that the Shasta county MSP (Math and Science Partnership) for science teachers is going well.  Some of their plans include, infusing STEM into their Local After School programs with robotics in Shasta county, solar and wind fairs in Siskiyou County, and additional programs in Butte and Modoc counties.

More information is available on-line at: www.region2online.org.

Written by Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner is a retired elementary science educator and is a member of CSTA.

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California Science Test Academy for Educators

Posted: Thursday, February 15th, 2018

California Science Test Academy for Educators

To support implementation of the California Science Test (CAST), the California Department of Education is partnering with Educational Testing Service and WestEd to offer a one-day CAST Academy for local educational agency (LEA) science educators, to be presented at three locations in California from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. As an alternative to traveling, LEA teams can participate virtually via WebEx on one of the dates listed below.

The dates and locations for the CAST Academy are as follows:

  • Monday, April 23, 2018—Sacramento
  • Wednesday, April 25, 2018—Fresno
  • Thursday, April 26, 2018—Irvine

The CAST Academy will help participants develop a deeper understanding of the assessment design and expectations of the CAST. The academy also will provide information and activities designed to assist educators in their implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards and three-dimensional learning to help them gain an understanding of how these new science assessment item types can inform teaching and learning. The CAST Academy dates above are intended for school and district science instructional leaders, including teacher leaders, teacher trainers, and instructional coaches. Additional trainings will be offered at a later date specifically for county staff. In addition, curriculum, professional development, and assessment leaders would benefit from this training.

A $100 registration fee will be charged for each person attending the in-person training. Each virtual team participating via WebEx will be charged $100 for up to 10 participants through one access point. Each workshop will have the capacity to accommodate a maximum of 50 virtual teams. Each virtual team will need to designate a lead, who is responsible for organizing the group locally. Registration and payment must be completed online at http://www.cvent.com/d/6tqg8k.

For more information regarding the CAST Academy, please contact Elizabeth Dilke, Program Coordinator, Educational Testing Service, by phone at 916-403-2407 or by e‑mail at caasppworkshops@ets.org.

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.

Accelerating into NGSS – A Statewide Rollout Series Now Accepting Registrations

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Are you feeling behind on the implementation of NGSS? Then Accelerating into NGSS – the Statewide Rollout event – is right for you!

If you have not experienced Phases 1-4 of the Statewide Rollout, or are feeling behind with the implementation of NGSS, the Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout will provide you with the greatest hits from Phases 1-4!

Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout is a two-day training geared toward grade K-12 academic coaches, administrators, curriculum leads, and teacher leaders. Check-in for the two-day rollout begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast. Sessions run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Day One and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Day Two.

Cost of training is $250 per attendee. Fee includes all materials, continental breakfast, and lunch on both days. It is recommended that districts send teams of four to six, which include at least one administrator. Payment can be made by check or credit card. If paying by check, registration is NOT complete until payment has been received. All payments must be received prior to the Rollout location date you are attending. Paying by credit card secures your seat at time of registration. No purchase orders accepted. No participant cancellation refunds.

For questions or more information, please contact Amy Kennedy at akennedy@sjcoe.net or (209) 468-9027.



MARCH 28-29, 2018
Host: San Mateo County Office of Education
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

APRIL 10-11, 2018
Host: Orange County Office of Education
Location: Brandman University, Irvine

MAY 1-2, 2018
Host: Tulare County Office of Education
Location: Tulare County Office of Education, Visalia

MAY 3-4, 2018
Host: San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools
Location: West End Educational Service Center, Rancho Cucamonga

MAY 7-8, 2018
Host: Sacramento County Office of Education
Location: Sacramento County Office of Education Conference Center and David P. Meaney Education Center, Mather

JUNE 14-15, 2018
Host: Imperial County Office of Education
Location: Imperial Valley College, Imperial

Presented by the California Department of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association/County Offices of Education, K-12 Alliance @WestEd, California Science Project, and the California Science Teachers Association.

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.

The Teaching and Learning Collaborative, Reflections from an Administrator

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

by Kelly Patchen

My name is Mrs. Kelly Patchen, and I am proud to be an elementary assistant principal working in the Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) at Louis Bohn and McKinley Elementary Schools. Each of the schools I support are Title I K-5 schools with about 450 students, a diverse student population, a high percentage of English Language Learners, and students living in poverty. We’re also lucky to be part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative with the K-12 Alliance. 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 California NGSS k-8 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.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

Posted: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

CSTA is pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals for 90-minute workshops and three- and six-hour short courses for the 2018 California Science Education Conference. Workshops and short courses make up the bulk of the content and professional learning opportunities available at the conference. In recognition of their contribution, members who present a workshop or short course receive 50% off of their registration fees. Click for more information regarding proposals, or submit one today by following the links below.

Short Course Proposal

Workshop Proposal 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.

CSTA’s New Administrator Facebook Group Page

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Holly Steele

The California Science Teachers Association’s mission is to promote high-quality science education, and one of the best practice’s we use to fulfill that mission is through the use of our Facebook group pages. CSTA hosts several closed and moderated Facebook group pages for specific grade levels, (Elementary, Middle, and High School), pages for district coaches and science education faculty, and the official CSTA Facebook page. These pages serve as an online resource for teachers and coaches to exchange teaching methods, materials, staying update on science events in California and asking questions. CSTA is happy to announce the creation of a 6th group page called, California Administrators Supporting Science. Learn More…

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: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.