September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

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 Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

Updated 7:25 pm, Nov. 17, 2017

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 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.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.