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 a member of CSTA.

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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 2017)

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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. 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 California NGSS k-8 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy:

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.