September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Events and Resources in Region 1

Posted: Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

by Valerie Joyner

Bay Area Science Festival

It’s time to “unleash your inner scientist” at the first-ever annual celebration of the Bay Area’s unparalleled leadership in science and technology. The 10 day festival, scheduled October 29 – November 6, will provide a wide range of science and technology activities – lectures, debates, exhibitions, workshops, etc. – at a variety of locations throughout the Bay Area. Check out the North Bay BASF Calendar ( for events near you.

The Buck Institute is a sponsor of the Bay Area Science Festival and is playing a key role in coordinating activities in the North Bay. The local highlight will be the North Bay Discovery Day at Infineon Raceway ( on Saturday, November 5, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Festival activities will be free. Families are encouraged to attend together. With as many as 40 exhibits, kids will have opportunities to build catapults and airplanes, use liquid nitrogen to make ice cream, play with robots, extract DNA, and go on a GPS-based “hunt.” The goal: to encourage interest in science, technology, engineering, and math.

This is a week-long series of events put on by many science-related companies, schools, and agencies. For information, go to the Buck Institute Web site at:

CREEC Network

The California Regional Environmental Education Community is one of the State’s main environmental education programs. There are both statewide and regional newsletters that list workshops, curriculum materials, grant opportunities and other items of interest to science and environmental educators. Go to for the state newsletter, and select Region 1 for our regional newsletter. (You can also easily sign up to receive the newsletter yourself.)


For Sonoma County Teachers

Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) has been able to obtain free units of A Child’s Place in the Environment (ACPE) to give to Sonoma County teachers. These units (in binders) consist of 19-20 lessons and include student pages in Spanish.

For additional information on ACPE, including units for which I don’t have copies, go to

ACPE units are interdisciplinary and thematic environmental education curriculum guides that help elementary school teachers to encourage students to become environmentally literate and to participate in projects that enhance their environment.

The ACPE units are described below.

Unit 1: Respecting Living Things
Kindergarten and first-grade students will learn that living things have needs and that they share their environment with other living things.

Unit 2: Protecting Soil
Second-grade students will learn what the composition of soil is and how people use resources from soil.

Unit 3: Preserving and Restoring Ecosystems
Third- and fourth-grade students will learn how organisms depend on one another for survival and how they adapt to their environment. The students will also learn how environments are changed. This unit has also been used to teach about ecosystems in sixth-grade classes.

Unit 4: Caring for Aquatic Systems (Sorry, I’m out of these, but go to the web site listed above.)
Fourth- and fifth-grade students will learn how water on Earth moves between oceans and land, how moving water erodes landforms, and why fresh water is limited.

Unit 5: Conserving Natural Resources
Fifth- and sixth-grade students will learn about different natural resources and the origin of materials used to make common objects.

If you would like to receive any of these great resources , email Mike Roa at SCOE   (….  Please don’t ask for them just because they’re free….Ask for them if you would be interested in incorporating more interdisciplinary, thematic e.e. into your curriculum.

Valerie Joyner is district science lead teacher for Petaluma City Schools and is the CSTA’s region 1 director.


Written by Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner

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

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State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 2017. 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.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw


This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. Learn More…

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.