September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Regional Update: Region 4 – Welcome, 2013!

Posted: Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

by Jeanine Wulfenstein

With the start of the New Year, Region 4 is bustling with preparations in anticipation of the next draft release of the NGSS and the impending implementation of Common Core Standards and Smarter Balanced Assessments.  This shift in pedagogy and emphasis will mean changes in the way we do business in the classroom. 

If you are interested in being an instructional leader to find out more about what is happening and what this means for teachers, the Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE) is offering a one day workshop on January 22, 2013 fro 8:30 – 3:30 to introduce what the Common Core Standards mean for Science and History-Social Science instruction across our state.

The Riverside County office of Education (RCOE) is also holding a collaborative meeting for all County Science Leaders.  On February 12, 2013 from 9:00 am to 2:00pm, science leaders from across the county will come together to learn about science assessment, data, available grants, instructional materials, research-based strategies, California Department of Education updates, upcoming events, and hands-on activities.  Participants will have an opportunity to participate in discussions and networking about STEM initiatives, the Next Generation Science Standards, and Common Core Standards.  For additional information contact Yamileth Shimojyo (

For those needing assistance and support in coordinating a science fair, RCOE is holding a Science Fair Coordinators meeting Thursday January 17, 2013 at 4:00pm.

For the outdoor enthusiast, the Orange County Department of Education is offering a celebration of World Wetlands Day at Upper Newport Bay at the Muth Center in Newport Beach on February 2, 2013.  World Wetlands day helps raise public awareness of the value and benefits of wetlands around the world.  For more information contact: or 714-708-3885.

The Orange County Department of Education is offering even more outdoor fun at the Get Outdoors! Program at Peters Canyon Regional Park located in Orange on January 19, 2013 from 12:00 to 3:00 pm.  Enjoy outdoor activities geared to inspire your family to spend more time outside.  This program includes easy Naturalist led hikes, and crafts.  For more information contact or 714-708-3885.

To remain current on the latest research, Science Educators in the San Diego region are invited to attend the San Diego Science Alliance Perspectives on Science Lecture series located at Point Loma Nazarene University.  Refreshments begin at 4:30 p.m. followed by a formal scientific presentation beginning at 5:00 p.m. Upcoming dates and topics include; The HIV Pandemic: Fighting AIDS in San Diego.  Featuring Dr. Douglas Richman (Professor of Pathology and Medicine and Director of the Center for AIDS Research, UC San Diego, Florence Seeley Riford Chair in AIDS Research, Staff Physician at the VA San Diego Healthcare System) on February 5, 2012.  The Early History of Life: A Solution to Darwin’s Dilemma on January 15, 2013.  The guest speaker will be Dr. J. William “Bill” Schopf, (Professor of Paleobiology & Director of IGPP CSEOL University of California, Los Angeles.)

For additional information on this monthly seminar series for science teachers, visit

Written by Jeanine Wulfenstein

Jeanine Wulfenstein

Jeanine Wulfenstein teaches science at Gardner Middle School and is the CSTA Treasurer. You can reach her by emailing

Leave a Reply


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…

Powered By DT Author Box

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…

Powered By DT Author Box

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.