September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Region 4 News and Events

Posted: Sunday, May 1st, 2011

by Pete A’Hearn

Region 4 is the most amazingly diverse place in the world to teach science. We stretch from the cold Pacific Ocean to the hottest desert in the world, contain the highest and lowest points in California, the oldest tree in the world, and the oldest cloned plant. We have top research facilities from the Salk Institute in San Diego to the 200-inch telescope at Mt. Palomar. Region 4 is the counties of San Diego, Orange, Riverside, Imperial, San Bernardino, Inyo, and Mono.

Ah…springtime in region 4 and a young teacher’s thoughts turn to…

Summer! Just around the corner with many opportunities for professional growth. In the meantime to keep you from getting into the post-CST test doldrums, there is lots going on.

Boojom Institute in Idyllwild is having an Open House on May 7. They do some great outdoor science programs. More info at:

Head to Los Angeles for the International Science and Engineering Fair on May 9 to May 13, and cheer on the region 4 kids who are competing. More information can be found at:

Sally Ride Science Festival, May 14, San Diego, CA: Presented by the Northrop Grumman Foundation, the festival for 5th to 8th grade students features hands-on workshops, guest speakers, and a street fair complete with food, booths and music. A highlight of the day will be the keynote presentation by former NASA astronaut Wendy Lawrence. Since 2001, Sally Ride Science Festivals have given middle school girls the opportunity to explore a variety of science fields and meet inspiring scientists such as Sally Ride, Laurie Leshin, and Ellen Ochoa. The festival runs from 11 a.m. until 4:15 p.m. and, with the exception of workshops, will be held completely outdoors. The event is open to the public and advanced registration is required. Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased online at or by calling 1-800-561-5161.

JPL is having an open house on May 14 and 15. JPL! Need I say more? Details can be found at:

The District Science Leadership Network for Riverside and San Bernardino counties is on May 17 at Riverside County Office of Education. Come hear presentations from schools identified as science education “outliers”, hear what the latest research says, and get connected with what’s going on in the region. Check out the details at:

Mark your calendars for Yami’s amazing notebook training July 13 and 14 at RCOE. If you don’t know Yami she is the new RCOE science person and has done amazing work with using notebooks in high school biology. More detailed info in the next report or contact Yamileth Shimojyo at

Join  the California Institute for Biodiversity team, naturalist David Lukas, and UC researchers as we explore the Sierra Nevada, focusing on climate change’s influence on natural systems. You will learn how climate change has already affected California and how mitigation can reduce the impact in the future. Participating teachers will also have the opportunity to “do science” by participating in a team field investigation that explores an aspect of global climate change. We will give you the right tools to help your students understand the threat of global climate change and how they can respond now and in the future! This intensive course will integrate state science standards for sixth through 12th grades. The registration fee includes room and board, your own field journal, a teacher packet with hands-on activities, and the use of scientific equipment for your field investigations. Regular registration is $375.

Applications for the CSULB Master’s in Science Education program are due June 1. There are options for elementary, secondary and informal science educators. Details about the MS program and contact information are located at

As the new region 4 director, I need help tracking all the events in a big and spread out region. You can help me to include events in your part of region 4 by sending me information about events and opportunities at

Pete A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is region 4 director for CSTA.

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

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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.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw


This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.