September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

CSTA Region 2 Events for November, 2014

Posted: Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

by Minda Berbeco

CSTA’s Region 2 includes: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Solano Counties.

Free Entry Days at:

Bay Area Discovery Museum, First Wednesday of the month
UC Botanical Gardens, First Thursday of the month
Oakland Museum of California, First Sunday of the month

Super-cool Science Parties and Lectures:

Nerd Nite East Bay, Last Monday of the month

Nerd Nite San Francisco, Third Wednesday of the month

Night Life, Thursdays, 6-10 pm, at the California Academy of Sciences
After Dark, First Thursday of the month, 6-10 pm, at the Exploratorium

Café Inquiry, Firth Thursday of the month, 6pm, at Café Borrone, Menlo Park

Highlighted Events in November:

Dynamics and Diagnosis of Tick-Borne Diseases in a Changing Landscape
Tuesday, 11/4/14 12-1pm
Sonoma State University – Biology Colloquium, Rohnert Park
Speaker: Dr. Andrea Zwei, Department of Biology, San Francisco State University
For more information, visit their website

Lakes, Fans, Deltas, and Streams: Geomorphic Constraints on the Hydrologic History of Gale Crater, Mars
Tuesday, 11/4/14 12-1pm
SETI Institute Colloquium Series, Mountain View
It has been proposed that in Gale Crater, where the Curiosity rover landed in August 2012, lakes developed to various depths after the large central mound (informally referred to as Mt. Sharp) had evolved to a form close to its current topography. Using a combination of CTX and HiRISE imagery and CTX, HiRISE and HRSC topography, we have documented a sequence of rising and falling lake levels, thereby providing a possible relative timeline of the hydrologic events within Gale crater.
For more information, visit their website

The Birth of Suns
Sunday, 11/8/14 8pm
San Jose Astronomical Society
We normally think of space as empty, but it’s not. The space between the stars in our Galaxy contains, on average, about 1 atom per cubic centimeter. That’s a better vacuum than the best vacuum chamber we know how to make, but there are a lot of cubic centimeters in interstellar space, and the mass between the stars of our Galaxy adds up to about 10% of the mass of all the stars. It is from this interstellar medium that new stars are continually born, at a rate of about 1 new Sun per year. In this talk I will describe our current understanding of the gas in interstellar space, and how and why it condenses to make new stars.
For more information, visit their website

30 Ways to Be a Shorebird
Tuesday, 11/11/14 7-9pm
St. Albans Parish Hall, Albany
The Bay hosts an ever-changing array of 30 different species of shorebirds, living by the seasons and tides, moving and feeding in patterns that reflect their physical attributes. Meet these fascinating, varied, and beautiful neighbors – some stay-at-home, some from half a world away – in a talk by Bay Area birding teacher and leader Rusty Scalf. Rusty also will discuss how the Bay’s shorebird populations are likely to have changed through the past, how they seem to be changing now, and what the future may hold.
For more information, visit their website

Hayward Fault Walking Tour
Saturday, 11/15/14 9:30-11am
Fremont Earthquake Exhibit, Fremont CA
Over the last million years, the natural beauty of Fremont has been shaped by the Hayward Fault. Instructors will be leading these ‘ground breaking’ tours and exposing the science and beauty of the Hayward Fault. This fault is one of several active faults in the world actually creeping at 5 mm/year. The tour will take place at Central Park (Lake Elizabeth) and explores dramatic faulting effects in both natural and urban environments. Even view the floor of a building that reveals dramatic evidence of this fault activity. (Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult) Tours begin at the Fremont Community Center. Cost: $15
For more information, visit our website

Northern California Bats: Demystifying and Discovering these Amazing Animals
Saturday, 11/15/14 10-2pm
UC Botanical Garden, Berkeley
Come learn about the local bats with Director of NorCal Bats Corky Quirk. In her presentation you will learn about bats and discuss the harmful myths that surround these animals. You’ll also learn the importance of bats in our environment. Live bats will be presented for viewing and discussion.
For more information, visit their website

Up the Ladder: Women Pursuing Careers in Science and Technology
Monday, 11/17/14 6pm
Commonwealth Club, San Francisco
How and why do women decide to pursue careers in science and technology? What is the reaction of their family, friends, teachers and others? This panel of three women at three different points in their careers – early, middle and advanced – will discuss the experiences that have supported and challenged their career pursuits. Come learn from their stories and hear ideas about how to attract more women to areas of science where they are still greatly under-represented, such as engineering and mathematics.
For more information, visit their website

Climate Change and Physiological Genomics
Tuesday, 11/18/1412-1pm
Sonoma State University – Biology Colloquium
Speaker: Dr. Sean Place Department of Biology, Sonoma State University
For more information, visit their website

Fall Colors
Tuesday, 11/18/14 7pm
Fremont Main Library, Fremont
Learn about why leaves change their color. Explore the different types of plants and why some do not change color.  Compare different types of trees in Fremont.
 Reading: The Colors of Fall.
For more information, visit their website

The Extreme Life of the Sea
Wednesday, 11/19/14 6:30pm
Romberg Tiburon Center, Tiburon
Speaker: Stephen Palumbi, Director, Hopkins Marine Station
For more information, visit their website

Science Saturday: Monarch Magic
Saturday, 11/29/14 11-3pm
Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
Welcome the monarch butterflies back to Pacific Grove! Create a monarch chrysalis pin, view live butterflies, explore the Museum’s Monarchs Come Home exhibition, and get your face painted while you discover what makes our monarch butterflies special. Special guests will provide even more activities, music, and information. Join us for a day filled with monarch magic!
For more information, visit their website

And coming up in January…

The Stanford Brain Bee
The Stanford Brain Bee will take place on Saturday, January 10, 2015 on Stanford campus. This is a local qualifying round of the International Brain Bee (IBB), a neuroscience competition exclusively for high school students ages 14-18. The Stanford Brain Bee involves both a written component and a live oral Q&A session. In addition to the competition, students will have the opportunity to attend a presentation by a Stanford neuroscientist and speak with Stanford professors and students from the medical, biosciences, and neuroscience fields. There is no charge to register and compete.

The IBB motivates students to learn about the brain, captures their imaginations, and inspires them to pursue neuroscience careers in order to help treat and find cures for neurological and psychological disorders. There are currently about 150 Local Brain Bee coordinators in 30 countries worldwide that conduct competitions annually. The winner of each Local Bee is invited to attend the National Brain Bee (NBB) competition in his or her own country, and the winner of each NBB is invited to compete in the International Brain Bee Championship.  Click here for details

Written by Minda Berbeco

Minda Berbeco

Minda Berbeco is the Programs and Policy Director at the National Center for Science Education and is CSTA’s Region 2 Director.

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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.