September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Events in Region 3

Posted: Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

March 19, 2011, Pasadena, CA
Thrill of Discovery: NASA Educator Workshop

2011 is NASA’s Year of the Solar System! NASA’s Discovery and New Frontiers missions are traveling vast distances to find answers to age-old questions. Join these celestial detectives on a cosmic road trip at an exciting workshop for educators of all grade levels—and share in the Thrill of Discovery. • See sights never before seen on Mercury: MESSENGER • Get up close to asteroids and comets: Dawn, Stardust-NExT and EPOXI • Map the moon’s gravity with twin satellites: GRAIL • Peer through Jupiter’s clouds: Juno • Cruise to the outer reaches of the solar system: New Horizons. Hear from mission scientists and engineers, discover engaging activities for grades K-12 and out-of-school time programs, and receive a resource packet loaded with items to enrich learning. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA. A webinar option is available for those unable to attend in person. Contact Whitney Cobb: or 303-632-5572 for questions. Find out more and register at

January 13 – 14, February 3 – 4, March 14 – 15, and April 14 – 15, 2011 , Claremont, CA
Paleontology for Educators Workshop – Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology

The Paleontology for Educators Workshop is a two-day workshop providing K-12 teachers with a hands-on introduction to paleontology, the study of past life. Each session includes a short course on paleontology, evolution, and earth science, with the aim of illustrating how to present this material in an interactive way to students. Each participant will gain experience in paleontological museum methods, within the setting of an accredited museum. A “Paleontology in the Classroom” book of activities and teaching kit will be given to each participant and made available online. The museum will also make available “classroom kits” for check-out, including real and replica fossils for use in activities in the classroom.

The workshop is hosted at the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology (, located 30 miles east of Los Angeles in Claremont, in the only accredited natural history museum on a secondary school campus. There is *no cost* to attend this workshop (including all materials, lunch, and snacks), and funding is provided to reimburse school districts for the cost of hiring substitute teachers for workshop participants. For registration information or other questions, please contact museum curator Andy Farke (

February 26, 2011 and April 9, 2011, Beverly Hills, CA
Water Pollution Prevention Workshop

Have you ever felt like watershed issues are complex and difficult to grasp? Does the size of your watershed inhibit you from taking action to improve it? When working to improve the health of your watershed, a combination of small modifications can add up to make a big difference. Come learn about three specific watershed restoration projects you can do on your campus or the surrounding community. Click here to register. Or check out the workshop flyer for more details.
At this Water Pollution Prevention Workshop you will learn how to:
• Understand the dynamics of urban watersheds in Los Angeles County
• Utilize watershed management techniques to restore your watershed
• Survey water flow across your campus

Click here to register. Registration Deadline: February 24, 2011
Contact Loyda Ramos at: or (818) 623-4856

April 9, 2011, Downey, CA
NASA/JPL Teacher Workshop: Physics of Sound

Do you know why there is no sound in space? Did you know that elephants and whales communicate using the similar low frequencies? Learn these and other exciting ways to teach the physics of sound to your students. Meets 2nd and 3rd grade science standards and admission is FREE! For more information please call (562) 231-1200. R.S.V.P. is required for this event. ·

Written by Dean Gilbert

Dean Gilbert

Dean Gilbert is the science coordinator for the Orange County Department of Education, and a member of CSTA.

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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.