September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Region 2, May 2014

Posted: Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

by Eric Lewis

For many of you, summer is nearly here! In the San Francisco Unified School District, our last day is May 30, so we can really feel summer’s approach. As I reviewed all of the amazing events that are happening in our region this month, I realized how many great opportunities there are to get more professional development for your personal science content knowledge AND your classroom pedagogy. This month, we are focusing California Classroom Science on earth and ocean sciences (and physics!). There are so many new and exciting science experiences to have in our region that can support your learning and your students’ experiences in your classroom. Be sure to share relevant opportunities with other teachers, students, and parents.

Don’t forget to encourage your colleagues to join CSTA. I’m hoping that we’ll have the opportunity to grow our organization and expand to meet your needs and your colleague’s needs. To that end, please feel free to email me directly so that I can represent your questions and concerns with the CSTA board as a whole.



There are many, many science opportunities in the Bay Area. Please visit here to see a year round calendar of events in our area. Some events to remember:

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
California Academy of Sciences, Quarterly free days. The next is June 1st, 2014
Exploratorium, Free Days, Selected days: May 11th, September 28th, October 12th

Star Parties:

Houge Park Star Party, May 2, 9pm–11pm, May 23, 9:15pm-11:15pm
Starry Nights Open Space at Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve, Morgan Hill: May 17th, 9pm – 11pm

Super-cool Science Parties:

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

Highlighted Events in May:

The Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark Matter
Monday, 5/5/14, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM
California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, San Francisco

The ordinary atoms that make up the known universe, from our bodies and the air we breathe to the planets and stars, constitute only 5% of all matter and energy in the cosmos. The remaining 95% is made up of a recipe of 25% dark matter and 70% dark energy, both nonluminous components whose nature remains a mystery. Speaker Katherine Freese will recount the hunt for dark matter, from the discoveries of visionary scientists like Fritz Zwicky, the Swiss astronomer who coined the term “dark matter” in 1933, to the deluge of data today from underground laboratories, satellites in space, and the Large Hadron Collider. Theorists contend that dark matter consists of fundamental particles known as WIMPs, or weakly interacting massive particles. Billions of them pass through our bodies every second without us even realizing it, yet their gravitational pull is capable of whirling stars and gas at breakneck speeds around the centers of galaxies, and bending light from distant bright objects. In this talk Freese will provide an overview of this cosmic cocktail, including the evidence for the existence of dark matter in galaxies. Many cosmologists believe we are on the verge of solving this mystery and this talk will provide the foundation needed to fully fathom this epochal moment in humankind’s quest to understand the universe.

Speaker: Katherine Freese, Professor of Physics, University of Michigan
Cost: $12 General, $8 Members, $10 Seniors
For more information, visit their website, email or call (415) 379-8000.

The Attacking Ocean: The Past, Present and Future of Rising Sea Levels
Monday, 5/12/14, 8:00 PM
Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro Street, Mountain View

Trained as an archaeologist and anthropologist, Brian Fagan’s interests have shifted in recent years to an historical investigation of climate change and rising sea levels. His latest book, The Attacking Ocean: The Past, Present and Future of Rising Sea Levels, describes how earlier societies adapted to rising water and how the increase in sea levels today impacts the lives of city dwellers and farmers around the world.

Individual tickets available 2/1. Click here for series ticket information.
Cost: $22
For more information, visit their website, email here or call 650-903-6000.

The Golden Shore – California’s Love Affair with the Sea

Tuesday, 5/20/14, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Bay Model Visitors Center, 2100 Bridgeway, Sausalito

The Golden Shore has also been named one of the ‘10 Best Literary Travel Books of 2013′ by Booklist, the magazine of the American Library Association.

The Pacific Ocean significantly defined California’s storied history, from the San Francisco Bay to Monterrey to San Diego. Helvarg will discuss how Californians have related to the Pacific over time through commerce, national defense, energy and exploration. Helvarg will trace California’s progress from a late maritime frontier where people exploited and polluted the ocean to a world leader in coastal protection, marine science, innovation and wildlife restoration, and will discuss how – or if – the modern California model for living well by the sea can be exported around the world. In addition to being an award-winning author, Helvarg is the founder of the ocean conservation group Blue Frontier.

Speaker: David Helvarg, Author
Cost:$5 recommended donation towards student research grants
For more information call (415) 332-3871 or visit their website.

Written by Eric Lewis

Eric Lewis

Eris Lewis is high school area science support in the San Francisco Unified School District LEAD office.

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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.