September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Events in Region 1

Posted: Saturday, February 26th, 2011

March 5, 2011
Humboldt County, CA
Project WET Workshop

The City of Eureka Stormwater Division, North Coast CREEC Network; Humboldt County 4-H, and Sequoia Park Zoo invite you to a Project WET workshop focused on the issue of stormwater. Participants will walk away with a great overview of local stormwater issues, a better understanding of local examples of stormwater best management practices and a Project WET guide. CEU credit is available. To register, please contact Amber Neilson at:–or- (707) 441-4217.

March 11, 2011
Berkeley, CA
Seeing Radiation: Nuclear Science Experiments

American Nuclear Society will be presenting a free workshop for high school science teachers. Participants will receive a cloud chamber kit, Geiger counter, workbooks and classroom curriculum. It will include a tour of the Advanced Light Source or Cyclotron. Space is limited, so don’t delay. Click for more information.

March 12 and May 7, 2011
Woodland, CA
2011 Teacher Institute: “Best Practices of Environmental Education and Stewardship”

The California Environmental Education Foundation, in partnership with Yolo County Office of Education (YCOE), invites Northern California educators (Regions 1-6), who teach students of grades K-12, with preference given to grades 4-8, to participate in a unique Three-Saturday Teacher Institute [January 15; March 12; May 7] utilizing an Action Research model to maximize collaborative learning in environmental education and place-based stewardship. Primary fund support for the Institute comes from the Saxton Family Foundation and the state Department of Water Resources. The Institute will be held at YCOE Conference Center, 1280 Santa Anita Court, Suite 120, Woodland, CA 95776. Click for more information. An application is available at:$39
Application Deadline: December 15, 2010.

March 18-19, 2011
Sacramento, CA
Sacramento Regional Science & Engineering Fair

The annual Sacramento Regional Science & Engineering Fair showcases students in the greater Sacramento region who will become our future scientists, technology experts, engineers, and mathematicians. This regional competition celebrates achievement by middle and high school students, supported by devoted parents, teachers, and other mentors.

For more information visit:

March 22, 2011 &
April 12, 2011
Sacramento, CA
Science in the River City

Science in the River City is an outstanding standards-based professional development program for 3rd to 12th grade science teachers. SIRC is held approximately once a month at Sacramento State during the academic year. The program is designed to deepen teachers’ understanding of science (through hands-on, inquiry-based labs and activities) and provide innovative ideas, lessons and strategies for teachers to use in their classrooms. The workshops are taught by university faculty or teacher leaders from the Sacramento Area Science Project.

For more information or to register on-line visit:

March 23, 2011
Focus on Grades K-5

March 24, 2011
Focus on Grades 6-12

4:00-6:00 p.m.

Far Northern California counties via video-conference

Strategic Science Teaching Workshop Building Content Literacy Through Literature

Learn to make use of Strategic Science Teaching, Grades K-12: A Sampler of Science Lessons Connecting Literature with the California Standards. During this workshop you will: • Enhance your science program with literature selections* aligned with grade level science standards. • Utilize fiction and non-fiction literature selections to launch a science investigation and feature literacy strategies. • Collaborate with teachers at your grade span on identifying student outcomes for science learning. Each workshop participant will receive a grade-specific literature selection, grade level science lesson masters, and practice with the literacy strategies that are emphasized for each literature selection. All workshops are provided via videoconference to a county office near you. Register at: K-5 Science (March 23)— or — Grades 6-12 Science (March 24). TheStrategic Science Teaching book is now available FREE online in PDF format at After February 4, contact Marian Murphy-Shaw at

March 25, 2011
Redding, CA
Map It, Manage It, Sustain It

The Forest Foundation is sponsoring a field trip opportunity for teachers and students. The one day event will be held at Shasta College in Redding and will be focused around introducing teachers and students to Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Send your RSVP ASAP to ensure a space for your school. For more information please e-mail or call 530-410-4836.

April 23, 2011
Redding, CA
Whole Earth and Watershed Festival

Thousands of people are expected to attend this year’s festival to learn how they can live a healthier lifestyle, save money and energy, protect natural resources and discover how the work of many local groups help make our region’s communities better places to live. We are excited about the variety of “green” ways to get to the Festival this year! It’s a great day to dust off your bike, get on a RABA bus, carpool, walk, or run to the 2011 Whole Earth and Watershed Festival and join in the celebration of Earth Day (April 22nd) and Watershed Awareness Month (May). It’s sure to be an experience you and your family will not want to miss! More information is available at:

April 29, 2011
Incline Village, NV
Project WET Workshop

The California Project WET program in partnership with the Tahoe Center for Environmental Research, Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships, Nevada and Hawaii Project WET programs, and the Association for Experiential Education invite you to register for this action-packed, pre-conference water education workshop at the Tahoe Center for Environmental Research. The workshop will be focused on the use of Project WET activities to integrate knowledge of local water resources and issues, as well as methods to bring experiential education into the classroom. All participants will receive lunch and walk away with their own Project WET guide. Registration details will be available after February 1, 2011 at:

Written by Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner is a retired elementary science educator and is CSTA’s Primary (grades K-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.