September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Region 2 News and Events

Posted: Saturday, September 1st, 2012

by Eric Lewis

Welcome back to school everyone!  I hope that you had a great summer and had a chance to do some valuable professional development.  I also trust that like me, you’re re-energized for another school year and that you’re excited to meet your new students and families.

This summer I took part in many worthwhile professional development opportunities.  While I really enjoyed building my skills for my English Language Learners through QTEL from WestEd and learning about (and creating!) digital curriculum resources at the Exploratorium, my favorite was as Educator-at-Sea on E/V Nautilus.  After a four day training in Rhode Island where I learned about the types of exploration happening this summer and fall on the ship, the types of resources that support Nautilus’ underwater explorations, and the ins and outs of using the Nautilus website, I was flown out to Turkey to start my work on the ship. 

I had NEVER lived on a ship before, and my last time aboard a boat was probably 25 years earlier.  That said, I’ve always felt like the best professional development is one that exposes you to new experiences and new ideas. This definitely fit the bill! Aboard the ship I learned tons about the kinds of experiences that you need to become ocean engineers, 3-D map creators, Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) pilots, underwater archeologists, geo-chemists and more. Additionally, I learned about what it means to be on a watch and to participate fully in the operations of a ship.

I was surprised that the ship was so cosmopolitan. For example, our captain was from Australia, our navigator was from Scotland, our chef was from the UK, the crew was mostly Ukrainian, and many of the scientists were from Turkey. Another surprise was learning that the vast majority of the engineers and scientists were young, and also that so much equipment was being serviced, maintained and used by people in his or her twenties. I was incredibly impressed with how well everyone worked as a team and how quickly people grew to depend on one another to be experts in their part of the work.

If you’re interested in participating as an Educator-at-Sea, I can certainly recommend the program highly. The training in Rhode Island was great and I’m excited to share my stories aboard Nautilus throughout this year.  You can learn more about the program at the Ocean Exploration Trust Website and can see what is going on LIVE with Nautilus at  I would recommend spending some time on the Nautilus Live website, which was recently redone with help from partners at National Geographic. On the site you can watch LIVE exploration, ask questions by clicking on the “participate” tab, and see what’s been happening all season by reading blogs and viewing the archived video highlights. There are also great links to other resources that teachers can be use to enhance curriculum in a variety of subjects from Biology, Earth Science and Marine Science to Robotics courses, Physics, and more!

I also hope that you take the opportunity to attend the California Science Education Conference in San Jose this year. Don’t forget to encourage your colleagues to join CSTA.  I’m hoping that we’ll have the opportunity to grow our organization and expand to better meet your needs and your colleague’s needs this year. To that end, please feel free to email me directly so that I can represent your questions and concerns with the CSTA board, and please let me know if there are events or opportunities that you’d like to add to our Region’s offerings.

View the event calender for events in our area.

Please send me an email at

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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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.