September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

News and Events in Region 2

Posted: Thursday, December 1st, 2011

by Eric Lewis

Unbelievably, it’s already December and we’re practically half way through the school year.  This is a great time of the year to take a minute to review all that you’ve accomplished so far this year and all that you still hope to accomplish. Of course, this is the time of the year when many teachers are starting to really struggle.  I remember my own experience in my teaching program seeing the graph about teacher morale by the months of the year.  Not surprising, we’re pretty much in the doldrums right now with a few higher morale moments expected during our holidays.  However, with the Spring comes the hopes that our students will perform at the high standards that we expect (and the fact that summer is just around the corner)…

If you’re looking for a cool project to do with your students, I came across this project through a variety of my networks.  The International Student Carbon Footprint Challenge was developed by Stanford as part of the Inquiry-to-Insight project, an international environmental science collaboration.   This project leads to an additional virtual lab on Ocean Acidification.

Please let me know if there are things that you’d like to add to our Region’s offerings!  Also, 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.

Happy Holidays!

Eric Lewis,


Cafe Inquiry
Thursday, December 1, 2011, 6:00 PM
Cafe Borrone, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA

Meet up with rationalists, skeptics, and freethinkers south of San Francisco. Beers and Books is a social event co-hosted by the Center for Inquiry|San Francisco. We’ll meet at Cafe Borrone between Kepler’s Books and the British Banker’s Club!  Look for the black balloon.  For more information, email

Free Day at Botanical Gardens
Thursday, December 1, 2011, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive, Berkeley, CA

There is free admission to the Botanical Garden on the first Thursday of each month.  For more information, email, call 510-643-2755 or visit our website.

Go Wild! Kids Nature Program
Friday, December 2, 2011, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Martin Luther King Library, 150 East San Fernando Street, San Jose, CA

Did you know that there is a 30,000 acre wildlife refuge right here in the South Bay? That it is home to over 280 species of birds each year? Join us as we learn more about Don Edwards SF Bay National Wildlife Refuge with stories and fun activities.

For more information, visit our website at

The First Stars in the Universe
Friday, December 2, 2011, 8:00 PM
College of San Mateo, 1700 W Hillsdale Blvd, Planetarium (Bldg 36), San Mateo, CA

Modern cosmological observations imply that the first stars in the universe were unique objects that strongly influenced their environment, despite their brief existence. This talk will present the current data and theoretical ideas on these stars, and how future telescopes can detect them.  Speaker: Dr. Aparna Venkatesan, University of San Francisco.

For more information, visit our website at

Marshlands of Dreams
Saturday, December 3, 2011, 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Don Edwards Refuge Headquarters & Visitors Center, 1 Marshlands Road off Thornton Avenue, Fremont, CA

Join Paul Mueller on a 1-mile walk of the LaRiviere Marsh Trail to find traces of the past. Prior to marsh restoration, learn how Californians utilized the area for farming, quarrying, salt production, and transportation. There are opportunities for bird watching as well.  For more information, call 510-792-0222 ext 363 or visit our website.

Plight of the Chinook Salmon
Saturday, December 3, 2011, 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Bay Model Visitors Center, 2100 Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA

Years later and many millions of dollars invested, the endangered Chinook population is not recovering in ways hoped.  What have scientists recently discovered?  Is it something in the water?  Find out more and feel free to share information with Ranger Linda.  For more information call (415) 332-3871 or visit our website.

Jazz under the Stars
Saturday, December 3, 2011, 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM
College of San Mateo, 1700 W Hillsdale Blvd, Planetarium (Bldg 36), San Mateo, CA
Visit our roof top observatory to see the first quarter moon and Jupiter thru telescopes.
Dress warmly and come by anytime between 8 and 10 pm.

”Jazz” night is Saturday Dec. 3 from 8-10 PM. Free parking in Marie Curie Lot 5. No food or drinks in the observatory. Children are welcome and need to be attended at all times.

For more information, check out our website at

FREE public events at the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Fall Meeting 2011
Sunday December 4, 2011, 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Moscone Center South, 747 Howard St., San Francisco, CA

Join us for our three FREE public events at the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Fall Meeting 2011: a lecture by Astronaut Drew Feustel, an afternoon of hands-on science with AGU Scientists at Exploration Station, and a children’s book reading by Author/Scientist Jeffrey Bennett.  This event is open to everyone! Students, teachers, university faculty, AGU members, families, kids of all ages, and anyone else interested in the Earth and space sciences will find something that they enjoy!

For more information, go to:

Kepler’s Quest for New Worlds Public Talks (Catching Shadows and Songs of the Stars)
Tuesday, December 6, 2011, 7:00 PM
NASA Ames Research Center, Building 152, Moffett Field, Mountain View, CA

Catching Shadows: Kepler’s Quest for New Worlds
Humankind’s speculation about the existence of other worlds like our own turned into a veritable quest with the launch of NASA’s Kepler spacecraft in March 2009. The mission is designed to survey a slice of the Milky Way to identify planets orbiting other stars. It looks for the telltale dimming of light that occurs when an orbiting planet passes in front of the star thereby casting a shadow into space. The roster of exoplanets discovered by Kepler has reached close to 30 in number, including one world that is unquestionably rocky in composition, another with 6 transiting planets, and another in a circumbinary orbit. Moreover, the team has released a catalog of nearly one thousand stars showing the recurring dimmings of light that suggest the presence of a planet. The methods used to identify planets will be described in this talk as well as the discoveries that have been announced to date. Now in its third year of operation, Kepler is honing in on the answer to the question that drives the mission: are potentially habitable worlds abundant in our galaxy.

Speaker: Dr. Natalie Batalha,professor of physics and astronomy at San Jose State University and the deputy science team lead for NASA’s Kepler Mission.

Songs of the Stars: the Real Music of the Spheres
We humans are visual creatures. For us “seeing is believing.” The Pythagoreans 2,500 years ago believed in a celestial “music of the spheres”, an idea that reverberated down the millennia in Western music, literature, art, and science. Johannes Kepler (the namesake of the Kepler Mission) was so enamored with Pythagoras’ idea that in the early 1600s that he spent years trying to discover harmonic relationships among the periods of the planets in their orbits about the sun, finally, disappointingly (for him), proving otherwise. Now we know that there is a real music of the spheres. The stars have sounds in them that we can use to see right to their very cores. This multi-media lecture looks at the relationship of music to stellar sounds. You will hear the real sounds of the stars, and you will hear musical compositions where every member of the orchestra is a real (astronomical) star! You will also learn about some of the latest amazing discoveries from the Kepler Space Mission that lets us “hear” the stars 100 times better than with telescopes on the ground.

Speaker: Dr. Don Kurtz, professor of astrophysics at the University of Central Lancashire in the United Kingdom and a steering committee member of the Kepler Asteroseismic Science Consortium. 

To register, please visit:

Pushing the Limits of Computational Imaging
Wednesday, December 7, 2011, 4:15 PM
Stanford University, Skilling Auditorium, Stanford, CA 94305

Computational imaging uses unconventional optics to capture a coded image, and an appropriate algorithm to decode the captured image. This approach of manipulating images before there are recorded and processing recorded images before they are presented has three key benefits.  First, it enables us to implement imaging functionalities that would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve using traditional imaging.  Second, it can be used to significantly reduce the hardware complexity of an imaging system.  Lastly, under appropriate imaging conditions, it allows us to break the limits of traditional imaging.  In this talk, Professor Nayar will show recent examples of imaging systems that demonstrate these benefits and will conclude the talk with a brief discussion on the fundamental limits of computational imaging.

Speaker: Shree K. Nayar, T. C. Chang Professor of Computer Science, Columbia University. For more information visit

Meet Your Neighbors-One Cubic Foot Underneath the Golden Gate Bridge
Wednesday, December 7, 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM
David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA

Who lives beneath the Golden Gate Bridge? Hear from the group who spent the spring of 2011 surveying this local habitat, and learn how you can participate in local habitat restoration.

RSVP via email at or phone at 510-809-0900, ext 116.

The Search for Habitable Exoplanets in the Kepler Era and Beyond
Wednesday, December 7, 7:00 PM
SETI Institute Colloquium Series, 189 Bernardo Ave, Mountain View, CA

For centuries people have wondered, “Are we alone?” With hundreds of planets now known to orbit other stars, we are finally able to begin answering the ancient questions, “Do other Earths exist? Are they common? Do any have signs of life? NASA’s Kepler space telescope will soon tell us the statistical numbers of Earth-size planets orbiting sun-size stars. Beyond Kepler is the search for potentially habitable worlds around nearby, sun-like stars. Professor Seager will discuss how astrobiology and space engineering research will come together to enable us to discover and identify other Earth-like worlds.

Speaker: Sara Seager, Planetary Science and Physics, MIT

For more information email:, call 650.961.6633 or check out our website at

Free Day at the Exploratorium
Wednesday, December 7, 2011, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
At the Palace of Fine Arts, 3601 Lyon Street, San Francisco, CA

There is free admission to the museum on the first Wednesday of each month; however, due to capacity limits, groups of 10 or more are required to make reservations or they will not be admitted.  Check out our website for more information.

Compassion and Altruism from an Integrated Evolutionary Perspective

Thursday, December 8, 2011, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Stanford University, School of Education, 485 Lausen Mall, Cubberley Auditorium, Stanford, CA

David Sloane-Wilson is an evolutionist who studies all aspects of humanity in addition to the biological world. He manages a number of programs designed to expand the influence of evolutionary theory in higher education (EvoS), public policy (The Evolution Institute), community-based research (The Binghamton Neighborhood Project), and religion (Evolutionary Religious Studies). He communicates to the general public through his ScienceBlogs site and his trade books, including Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives and The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve my City, One Block at a Time.

For more information, call (650) 721-6142 or email us at

Tracking Ongoing Kilauea Eruptions — Fissures…Fountains…and Flows
Thursday, December 8, 2011, 7:00 PM
USGS Evening Public Lecture Series, 345 Middlefield Road, USGS Conference Room A, Bldg 3, Menlo Park, CA

Spectacular Kilauea eruptions have produced a summit lava lake, roiling for several years, and a flank eruption recently sending lava flows downslope to threaten residential areas.  How do USGS scientists monitor and track subsurface molten rock movement, measure the state of volcanic unrest, and forecast eruptions?  Find out more about how Hawaiian volcano “plumbing systems” force deep molten magma into subsurface reservoirs, through eruptive fissures, and onto the surface to form large lava flows.

Speaker: Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist Matthew Patrick

For more information call 650-329-5000 or visit our website at

Getting Comfortable with Global Warming
Friday, December 9, 2011,12:00 PM – 12:45 PM
The Presidio of San Francisco, 105 Montgomery Street at Lincoln Boulevard in San Francisco, CA

What emotional state are you in about global warming? Shock, denial, anger, depression… or acceptance and readiness for action?  Bring a brown bag lunch and help move through the “grieving process” and toward action.  Meet Ranger Will Elder at the Temporary Visitors Station.  Reservations required by calling (415) 561-4323.

Total Lunar Eclipse
Saturday, December 10, 2011, Starts at 4:00 AM
Chabot Space and Science Center, 10000 Skyline Blvd, Oakland, CA

Get up early and come to Chabot to catch the last Total Lunar Eclipse until the year 2014! Our Observatory Deck will be open for anyone who would like to enjoy the spectacle in good company. Chabot staff and volunteers will be on hand to talk about the eclipse as it happens. A total lunar eclipse is a rare meeting of the full Moon and the long shadow the Earth casts into space. The Moon will begin to enter the Earth’s full shadow (umbra) starting at 4:46am, and will be totally engulfed by 6:06am. Totality will last 41 minutes, followed shortly after by moonset.

Center will not be open, enter through Observatory gate.

For more information, please email: or call (510) 336-7300.  You can also visit our website at

Gold Fever: How the Gold Rush Forever Changed San Francisco Bay
Saturday, December 10, 2011, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Bay Model Visitors Center, 2100 Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA

In 1848 gold was discovered in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, luring people by the thousands to California.  Join Ranger Tammi to find out how this event forever changed San Francisco Bay.  For more information call (415) 332-3871 or check out their website.

Mad Science: Magnificent Magnets
Saturday, December 10, 2011, Starts at 3:00 PM
Berryessa Branch Library, 3555 Noble Ave, San Jose, CA

Investigate the powers and daily uses of magnets. Explore magnetic fields and their relative strengths and properties. Take home your own floating magnets. Join us for this entertaining and educational program with Mad Science! Attendance is limited to the first 30 children. Grades: K-2.  For more information, please email: or call (408) 808-3050.

Glimpsing the Edge of the Universe: Results from the Hubble Space Telescope
Saturday, December 10, 2011, Starts at 8:00 PM
San Jose Astronomical Association, Houge Park, Twilight Drive, San Jose, CA

Speaker: Dr. Bruce Margon.

The Hubble Space Telescope has circled the Earth 15 times every day for more than 16 years. Dr. Margon describes the most important discoveries made with the telescope and how it can show us new details of the universe from the solar system to the most distant reaches of space. In addition, he briefly discusses the future of the Hubble and some interesting public reactions to it.  Check out their website for more information!

The Salt Marshes: Then and Now
Sunday, December 11, 2011, 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
Don Edwards Refuge Headquarters & Visitors Center, 1 Marshlands Road, off Thornton Avenue, Fremont, CA

Approximately 85% of San Francisco Bay’s wetlands have disappeared over the last 200 years due to industry and development, impacting the wildlife that lived in and around them. Some of the plants and animals have made a comeback. Learn the history of the salt marshes and the plant and animal life affected by the changes. The presentation includes a slideshow followed by an optional walk (approximately 45 minutes, weather permitting) to view a salt marsh and the remains of a salt evaporation pond. Led by Gregg Aronson. Call 510-792-0222 ext. 363 for reservations.

DREAM Lunar Science Institute Team Seeks High School Teachers and Students to Participate in 2012 Lunar Extreme Program and Workshop
Applications are due on or before December 12, 2011.  Participants will be notified of their acceptance by December 16, 2011.

DREAM – Dynamic Response of the Environment At the Moon ( – is one of several teams comprising the NASA Lunar Science Institute ( The purpose of DREAM is to investigate the response of the lunar environment to the harsh and ever-changing conditions in space, including extreme events such as solar storms and impacts. DREAM is looking for 2 teams of high school teachers and students (approximately 4-6 students per teacher) who would like to participate in the Lunar Extreme Program from January-June 2012, culminating in participation at a Lunar Extreme Workshop with DREAM scientists from June 18-22, 2012 at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA. The target audience for involvement in the Lunar Extreme Program is high school students who have already been exposed to physics, Earth science, chemistry, or computer modeling and the teachers of these subjects. Teachers will be provided with small stipends for their time and participation. 
To learn more and to access the application materials, visit:

Bugs, Bugs, Bugs
Tuesday, December 13, 2011, 11:30 AM
Evergreen Branch Library, 2635 Aborn Road, San Jose, CA

The Open Space Authority presents Docent Teri and her enthusiasm for all things creepy and crawly. Come learn the ant secret handshake or discover if bees have their own version of dancing GPS! Bring your questions and your sense of adventure and come have some fun! Everyone is welcome.

For more information, email: or call (408) 808-3060

San Mateo County Astronomical Society (SMCAS) Star Party
Saturday, December 17, 2011, just before sunset
Crestview Park, San Mateo, CA 94070

Come out and bring the kids for a mind-expanding look at the universe.

Setup of telescopes begins around sunset, with observations beginning about 1 hour later.

If you have any questions, please email or call 605-862-9602.

Beginning Birding
Sunday, December 18, 2011, 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Marin Headlands Visitors Center, Fort Barry, Sausalito, CA 94965

Just like people, there are “snowbirds” in the avian world and the Marin Headlands is one of the spots to which they flock during winter.

Join docent Jane Haley on an easy walk to discover our winter residents and visitors.

We will meet at the Marin Headlands Visitor Center. Please bring field guides and binoculars.  This event is appropriate for ages 8 and older. Please: No dogs!  Rain will cancel the event, so please plan accordingly.

For reservations, call (415) 331-1540.

Free Wednesday at Cal Academy
Wednesday, December 21, 2011, 9:30 am to 5:00 pm
California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Dr., San Francisco, CA

Free admission is available to visitors on the third Wednesday of every month, through the generosity of The Bernard Osher Foundation. Admission is on a first come, first served basis, and early arrival is recommended due to the likelihood of high demand. Also, please note that final entry to the museum on free days is 4pm and, finally, that there will be no members-only entrance on Free Wednesdays.

Check out their website for more information! Email: Phone: (415) 379-8000.

The SOFIA Science Mission
Wednesday, December 21, 2011, 7:00 PM
Randall Museum, 199 Museum Way, San Francisco, CA 94114

Erick Young, a widely recognized authority on infrared astronomy, is Science Mission Operations Director for SOFIA. Most recently, Young was responsible for developing the far-infrared detector arrays on the Spitzer Space Telescope’s Multiband Imaging Photometer for Spitzer (MIPS). The instrument provided both imaging and spectroscopic data at far-infrared wavelengths.

Speaker: Erick Young, SOFIA Science Mission and Operations Director

For more information about The San Francisco Amateur Astronomers, check out their website!

Discover “E” 2012
Hosted by: Silicon Valley Engineering Council
When: February – March 2012
Application Deadline: January 31, 2012
What: During February and March of 2012, as an adjunct to National Engineers Week, engineers from local corporations will begin visiting classrooms to share the excitement and rewards of being an engineer. Engineers can also visit classrooms after March. The engineers will discuss careers in engineering with the students and can involve students in hands-on activities. Following this, there can be question-and-answer periods. Engineers will be glad to tailor their presentations to particular teachers’ needs and can bring posters, bookmarks, and brochures to hand out to promote Discover “E.” For more information and an application, please visit

Eris Lewis is high school area science support in the San Francisco Unified School District LEAD office and is CSTA region 2 director.

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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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.