September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Region 1 – News and Events

Posted: Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

by Valerie Joyner

I am very excited about upcoming January 8th release of the Next Generation Science Standards!  Since the initial review period last fall your ideas and input have been used to revise this next draft of the standards.  This month we will have the opportunity to review the revisions that have been made and offer our additional expertise, ideas, and comments.  CSTA will keep you up to date about the release and review period.  I hope that you and your colleagues, at all grade levels, will review and provide comment for this important new document.

It is also time to submit workshop and short course proposals for our 2013 Conference.  We are always looking for new and exciting ideas and presentations.  Short Course proposals are due January 31, 2013 and workshop proposals are due March 4, 2013.  Please consider sharing your ideas and expertise in Palm Springs, October 25-27, 2013.

Future Events and Deadlines:

Creek Restoration/Native Plant Planting in Petaluma
January – March 2013
The Sonoma County Water Agency has scheduled three Community Service Days this school year. The first two involve planting native species in local creeks to improve habitat for steelhead and salmon.  The third will be a creek cleanup (details below). High school and middle school students can earn three community service hours and learn a bit about riparian ecology while having a good time with friends. The Community Service Days are also a first step in getting students interested in the “Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps” which is a paid summer jobs program that helps students learn job-readiness skills.
Teachers can contact the Water Agency by calling Stefan Klakovich at (707) 547-1930 for more information or to arrange a class presentation.

January 12, 9-12 noon: Native planting
Corona Creek, Petaluma  (Near Sonoma Mountain Pkwy and Corona Road)
Park on Maria Drive (cross street Telford Lane)

February 2, 9-12 noon: Native planting
Five Creek, Rohnert Park (Cross Street Ellen Street)
Park at Eagle Park on Emily Road

March 9, 9-12noon: Creek cleanup
Pollen Creek, Santa Rosa (Cross Street: Guerneville Road)
Park at Northwest Community Park on Marlow Road

San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival Student Competition (March 2013)
January 14, 2013 deadline for submission
Middle and high school students

Sonoma County Science Fair
February 23, 2013
Sonoma State University
Rohnert Park   re: science fair
Handbook and forms available at
Contact Mike Roa for additional information

Sonoma County Science Olympiad
March 27, 2013
Sonoma State University
Rohnert Park
Next planning meeting is Tuesday, January 15 (4:00-5:00) at Luther Burbank Elementary School in Santa Rosa.
Handbook and forms available at
Contact Mike Roa for additional information   re: science olympiad

Sonoma County Spring Science Showcase (May 14, 2013)
Sonoma County will host the first Spring Science Showcase for students grades 4-12 who did not participate in the county’s Science Fair.  Learn how your students can participate in this event May 14, 2013.

For more information contact Mike Roa at  re: Spring Science Showcase

Project ASTRO Summer Workshop
This program of the astronomical Society of the Pacific “seeks 3rd-9th grade teachers…to attend a free 2-day summer workshop to learn hands-on, inquiry-based astronomy activities.  The workshop will be Aug 2-3 at the San Mateo County Office of Education. Online applications are due by May 29, 2013.

For information, call 415-715-1426 or complete teacher application

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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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.