September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Region 1 – News and Events

Posted: Friday, February 1st, 2013

by Valerie Joyner

I hope that everyone was able to find time in their busy schedules to review and comment on the second draft of NGSS.  The Sonoma County Office of Education hosted a review workshop on January 24 that was well attended.  Science educators from as far away as Humbolt County were able to work in small teams, reviewing the second draft and sharing their ideas and comments about it both statewide and nationally.  The participants engaged in serious study and discussion.  While initially finding the document difficult to maneuver, they all came away with a better understanding of NGSS and were ready to bring information back to share with their colleagues.

A special thanks to Mike Roa and Rick Phelan of the Sonoma County Office of Education for hosting and providing their expertise for this event.

There are so many things going on in science in our region.  Informal institutions like the Sonoma County Children’s Museum, which is under development, is looking to provide young people with science experiences.  High school teachers are talking about teaming up colleagues around the state and nation to put together technology resources, like Wiki’s, to enhance and enrich their students learning.  Elementary schools and districts are working with parents and businesses to support hands-on science programs.  You will be hearing more about some of these ideas and more in the coming months.  Remember eCCS is your publication and is it a place where we can all share opportunities, successes, failures, ideas, and interests.

Region 1 Event List:

There is still time to participate in the Sonoma County Water Agency’s Community Service Opportunities!

The Sonoma Counter Water Agency has two remaining Community Service Days this school year. The first involves planting native species in local creeks to improve habitat for steelhead and salmon. The second will be a creek cleanup. High school and middle school students can earn three community-service hours while they learn a bit about riparian ecology and have 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.

Students and teachers can learn more about these events and programs at, or contact Stefan Klakovich at 547-1930.

Native planting:

February 2, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Five Creek, Rohnert Park (Cross Street Ellen Street) Park at Eagle Park on Emily Road

Creek cleanup:

March 9, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Pollen Creek, Santa Rosa (Cross Street: Guerneville Road) Park at Northwest Community Parkon Marlow Road

Sonoma County Science Fair

February 23, 2013,SonomaState University, Rohnert Park

Handbook and forms available at

Contact Mike Roa for additional information

Sonoma County Science Olympiad

March 27, 2013

Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park

Handbook and forms available at

Contact Mike Roa for additional information

Sonoma County Spring Science Showcase (May 14, 2013)

Sonoma County will host the first Spring Science Showcase for students in grades 4-12 who did not participate in the county’s Science Fair.  Learn how your students can participate in this event by contacting Mike Roa at

Project ASTRO Summer Workshop

August 2 – 3, 2013,San Mateo County Office of Education.

This program of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific provides 3rd through 9th grade teachers with an opportunity to attend a free, two-day summer workshop to learn hands-on, inquiry-based astronomy activities. Online applications are due by May 29, 2013.

For information, call 415-715-1426 or go to:

The teacher application can be accessed at:

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.