May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

News and Events in Region 1

Posted: Thursday, September 1st, 2011

by Valerie Joyner

Summer vacation has come to an end and teachers throughout the region are back in the classrooms bringing science to life for students. We are fortunate in Region 1 (Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolomne, Yolo, and Yuba counties) because our mild fall weather offers an extended opportunity to infuse the classroom with creatures and plants from the backyard or school garden in the early part of each school year. The sights, textures, and transformations of nature bring the excitement of science to our students in a profound and almost magical way.

This summer I found some volunteer anise plants growing in my backyard and a swallowtail butterfly hovering nearby. Since the swallowtail has become an infrequent visitor, I decided to nurture the anise and see what would happen.

As August came to an end, I discovered tiny yellow eggs scattered throughout the anise and soon thereafter came small black larvae. I carefully transported them to the classroom, and now the larvae are munching away at the anise and being observed, measured, and written about daily by my students. The students are making predictions and learning to create, date, and label accurate drawings of their observations in their science journals.

Watching the students reminded me of my summers growing up, when butterflies were a more common sight and caterpillars were often found making their meals on the local flora. I often looked for monarch butterflies on milkweed, swallowtail butterflies on anise and parsley, or a fuzzy caterpillar near an old oak tree. Over time these larva grew, sometimes changing colors from black and red, to white with orange and green stripes. Then the chrysalis appeared. Whether they were the magnificent chartreuse green and golden dots of the monarch or the grey stick-like pupa of the swallowtail, this transformation filled me with wonderment and curiosity for science.

Our modern lives tend to increasingly emphasize technology and an indoor lifestyle, one in which children are becoming more familiar with electronic devices than flowers and insects. This trend makes it more important than ever for students to experience science through hands on interactions with nature. To support that goal in my classroom, a friend (who is a retired teacher) supplies me with monarch eggs/larva and milkweed each year. Through their observation of the metamorphosis, I see each of my students light up with curiosity and a sense of wonder.

As we settle into a new school year, let’s take advantage of our region’s natural bounty. Give some thought to our local areas and what sort of interesting animals, plants, or minerals we can bring into our classrooms to ignite that timeless spark of wonderment.

Don’t forget our annual CSTA Conference, October 21-23. Hope to see you there!

Events and Resources in Region 1

Sonoma State University Field Stations & Nature Preserves are pleased to announce our Fall 2011 Fairfield Osborn Preserve environmental education field trips. The 460-acre Preserve features diverse habitats, including oak woodlands, a vernal pool, ponds, a marsh, and grasslands. Our education program includes a 4-hour naturalist-led hike into the beautiful heart of the Preserve, as well as a teacher’s packet and a classroom visit to assist students with field trip readiness.

If you are interested in applying for a field trip, please complete the application and email it to If you would prefer to print out the application, you may return it to: FOP Field Trip Reservations, 6543 Lichau Road, Penngrove, CA, 94951. Applications must be fully completed and received by Friday, September 9, 2011, to be considered. Only those teachers who have been scheduled for a field trip will be notified by phone or email of the lottery results by September 16. Please feel free to contact or 707-795-5069 with any questions.

A Call for California Educators: University of California Curriculum Integration Institute for Green Curricula

The University of California Curriculum Integration (UCCI) Institute is seeking motivated and talented high school teachers and administrators from across the state to apply for the fall institute on November 6-9, 2011 in Santa Barbara. This institute will focus on developing innovative “green” curricula in the subject areas of History/Social Science or Laboratory Science with any of the following Career Technical Education (CTE) industry sectors: Energy and Utilities; Engineering and Design; Hospitality, Tourism and Recreation; Public Services; Transportation.

At the institute, participants will work in groups to produce integrated, model courses for use statewide. Institute costs, except for transportation, will be covered by funding from the CA Department of Education. All prospective participants must apply online by September 22, 2011. To apply and for more information, please visit

Waves Wetlands, and Watersheds Workshop at Turtle Bay Exploration Park
September 28, 2011, Redding, CA

At this workshop, you will receive a free copy of the California Coastal Commission’s science activity guide for teachers, Waves, Wetlands, and Watersheds. You’ll try some of the activities in the guide and get an overview of other free educational resources and programs the Coastal Commission has available. For more information visit

The Petaluma Wildlife Museum is currently booking tours and field trips for the 2011-2012 school year! The Museum provides a unique environmental education experience, combining hands-on interactions with a traditional wildlife education.

The environmental education curriculum teaches about several California State Standards such as ecosystem function, biodiversity, geologic processes, and Native American history. Tours are led by enthusiastic and knowledgeable high school students. For more information call the Museum at (707) 778~4787 or visit

The Center for Land-Based Learning and Agrium, Inc. invite you to participate in the 2011-12 Caring for our Watersheds program (CFW). CFW is both an environmental proposal contest and a project funding opportunity for high school students.

CFW asks students to submit a proposal that answers the question, “What can you do to improve your watershed?” Students research their local watershed, identify an environmental concern, and come up with a realistic solution.

Ten finalists will present their ideas to win up to $1,000 cash rewards for themselves and matching rewards for their schools.

Schools also receive $100 for every ten complete proposals submitted.

In addition to cash rewards, there is also $10,000 ($1000 per project) available for students to implement their projects (if they choose). ALL participants are eligible for these mini-grant implementation funds.

CFW Important Dates:

Teacher Workshop: October 14, 2011
Proposal entry deadline: February 3, 2012
Final Competition: March 24, 2012

NOTE: CFW California is currently open to all 9-12 students who live in the Sacramento-San Joaquin watershed in Yolo, Solano, Sacramento, Colusa, Yuba, Sutter, Glenn, El Dorado, Placer, and San Joaquin counties.

Visit for more details.  If you are interested, please contact (530) 795-1544.

Is astronomy or space science part of your curriculum? If so, you can enhance your program of instruction by having one of the members of the Sonoma County Astronomical Society (SCAS) visit your school or class to present a PowerPoint slide show or direct one or more hands-on astronomy based activities.

STAR PARTIES: SCAS also will provide several volunteers who will bring their own telescopes to share with your students and their families for an evening star party. The best viewing dates are those the week before or the week just after a new moon. On evenings when there is a bright moon many of the distant nebulae and galaxies become difficult to view – sort of like trying to watch a movie in a brightly lit room. If your curriculum teaches about the moon, then the week after the new moon would be a good choice. If your curriculum is more focused on galaxies, nebulae and star clusters, then the week preceding the new moon would be best. The following dates are recommended and still available for the 2011-12 school year. Our volunteers typically do only one evening event per week, so once a date has been scheduled all other dates during that week are eliminated. Occasionally, we do schedule two star parties during one week if one is in the south county and the other is north or west as most volunteers prefer to stay close to home. If your preferred date has already been lined out, and your school is in a different part of the county, go ahead and inquire anyway and I will try to accommodate your request. The community shown next to the lined out dates show approximately where in the county that star party is taking place. It is advised that a teacher select two star party dates during the same week in the event the first date gets clouded out. This is particularly important during Sonoma County’s “rainy season.”

If your curriculum studies the sun, we can also provide volunteers with telescopes that have special filters that allow safe solar viewing. Solar viewing is not limited to the star party schedule, as the solar volunteers do not hold down “day jobs.” If you are interested is a solar party, do inquire regardless of the date.

To inquire about either of these types of activities or to get on the event calendar, contact Lynn Anderson, SCAS Director of Community Activities by email,

Available Dates for the 2011-12 School Year

Crescent moon viewing weeks (Sunset time)

August 29 – September 2              (7:40)
October 31 – November  2            (6:10)    Rincon Valley
November 28 – 30                           (4:50) Petaluma
January 23 – 27                                 (5:25) Petaluma
February 23 – 24                                (5:50)
February 27, 28, 29                         (5:50)
March 26 – 30                                      (7:30) Healdsburg
April 23 – 27                                        (7:55)
May 21 – 25                                           (8:20)

Weeks without a moon to view include:
August 22 – 26                                   (7:50)
September 19 – 23                            (7:10) Guerneville
September 26 -28                              (7:10)   Monte Rio
October 17 – 21                                  (6:30) Rincon Valley
October 24 – 28                                   (6:20) Rincon Valley
November 21 – 25                            (4:55) Bodega Bay
December 12 – 16                               (4:50) Petaluma
January 16 – 20                                   (5:15) Petaluma
February 13 – 17                                 (5:45) Windsor
March 19 – 23                                       (7:20)
April 16 – 20                                          (7:50)

Visible planets can be viewed during the twilight hour regardless of moon brightness. The viewing of star clusters, nebulae and galaxies usually doesn’t start until about an hour after sunset. Jupiter will be visible in the evening sky between mid-October 2011 through February 2012.

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 CSTA’s Primary (grades K-2) Director.

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Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here:

Please contact Rosanne Luu at or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

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.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). 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.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. 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.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. 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.