September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Region 2 June Events

Posted: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Free Entry Days at:

Bay Area Discovery Museum, First Wednesday of the month
UC Botanical Gardens, First Thursday of the month
Oakland Museum of California, First Sunday of the month

Super-cool Science Parties and lectures:

Nerd Nite East Bay, Last Monday of the month

Nerd Nite San Francisco, Third Wednesday of the month

Night Life, Thursdays, 6-10 pm, at the California Academy of Sciences
After Dark, First Thursday of the month, 6-10 pm, at the Exploratorium

Café Inquiry, Firth Thursday of the month, 6pm, at Café Borrone, Menlo Park

Action for California Condors

Wednesday, 06/03/15 6:30 PM Oakland Zoo

For more than 20 years, and through joint efforts, Ventana has lead the way to save the California Condor from extinction by treating them for lead poisoning caused by ingesting food shot by lead-based ammunition. Oakland Zoo is now one of only a few zoos that partner with the California Condor Recovery Program to medically treat wild condors. Come learn how Ventana Wildlife Society and Oakland Zoo take action to help.

For more information:

Solar Eclipse Chasing and Astronomical Tourism

Friday, 6/05/15 8:00 PM College of San Mateo

Solar eclipses have been observed by humans for thousands of years and have been recorded in the archives of the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, and Chinese going back 4000 to 4500 years ago.  Precise predictions of their occurrences in space and time only date from the 19th Century when the dimensions and dynamics of the solar system became well characterized.  Once precise prediction was proven to work, people began making expeditions to observe eclipses.

For more information:


Saturday, 6/06/15 8:30 AM – 06:00 PM Asian Cultural Center

SkeptiCal is the Northern California conference of science and skepticism, a day-long event with speakers, panels, and discussions on a wide array of subjects.

For more information:

Hayward Fault Walking Tour

Saturday, 6/06/15 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM Tule Ponds at Tyson Lagoon

Over the last million years, the natural beauty of Fremont has been shaped by the Hayward Fault. Instructors will be leading these ‘ground breaking’ tours and exposing the science and beauty of the Hayward Fault. This fault is one of several active faults in the world actually creeping at 5 mm/year. The tour will take place at Central Park (Lake Elizabeth) and explores dramatic faulting effects in both natural and urban environments. Even view the floor of a building that reveals dramatic evidence of this fault activity. (Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult)

For more information:

June LASER Event – Stanford

Thursday, 06/11/15 7:00 PM – 9:30 PM LASER Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous

The LASERs are a national program of evening gatherings that bring artists and scientists together for informal presentations and conversation with an audience. See the program for the whole series. The event is free and open to everybody. Email me if you want to be added to the mailing list for the LASERs. Like previous evenings, the agenda includes some presentations of art/science projects, news from the audience, and time for casual socializing/networking.

For more information: or

5th annual, Green Kids Conference

Saturday, 6/13/15 10:30 AM – 03:30 PM

This is a conference dedicated to children ages 5 to 18 years. Come with your family and friends, explore your passion, and be inspired to take action! Come prepared to learn and have fun; there are lots of hands-on-activities and information that is sure to keep adults and kids of all ages curious and interested.

For more information:

Maker Saturdays

Saturday, 6/20/15 and 6/27/15 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Join us for our Summer Maker Series.  Come make, share and learn with hands-on activities. Bring your creativity and ideas, we’ll supply enough projects to keep you busy making things all summer. This free, family-friendly series for all ages is hosted by Bon Air Center and Marin Maker Mobile.

For more information:

The Top Tourist Sights of the Solar System: Where Bill Gates’ Great-Granddaughter Will Go on Her Honeymoon

Saturday, 06/20/15 8:30pm Mountain Theater, Mill Valley

Using spectacular images from space probes and the world’s largest telescopes, explore the most intriguing future “tourist destinations” among the planets and moons in our cosmic neighborhood.  Among our stops will be the 4,000-mile lava channel on Venus, the towering Mount Olympus volcano on Mars, the awesome Verona Cliffs on the moon Miranda (,the tallest “lover’s leap” in the solar system), and the recently discovered steam geysers on Saturn’s intriguing moon Enceladus.

For more information:

How to Clone a Mammoth–The Science of De-Extinction

Thursday, 6/25/15 6pm Commonwealth Club

Could extinct species, like mammoths and passenger pigeons, be brought back to life? The science says yes. Beth Shapiro, evolutionary biologist and pioneer in “ancient DNA” research, will discuss the astonishing and controversial process of de-extinction. From deciding which species should be restored, to sequencing their genomes, to anticipating how revived populations might be overseen in the wild, Shapiro explores the extraordinary cutting-edge science that is being used to resurrect the past. Journeying to far-flung Siberian locales in search of ice age bones and delving into her own research – as well as those of fellow experts such as Svante Paabo, George Church and Craig Venter – Shapiro considers de-extinction’s practical benefits and ethical challenges. Would de-extinction change the way we live? Is this really cloning? What are the costs and risks? And what is the ultimate goal? Shapiro’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including Nature and Science, and she is a 2009 recipient of a MacArthur Award

For more information:

The Buzz about Bees

Saturday, 6/27/15 1:00pm Common Ground Grow Biointensive Garden, Palo Alto

From the White House to our local communities, there is a growing concern for the health and well-being of our honey bee populations, which pollinate one-third of the crops we depend on. Learn tips and techniques that will help you transform your garden into a safe oasis for honeybees, native bees, birds and other pollinators.

For more information:

Written by Minda Berbeco

Minda Berbeco

Minda Berbeco is the Programs and Policy Director at the National Center for Science Education and is CSTA’s Region 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.