September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

September 2014 Events in CSTA’s Region 2

Posted: Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

by Minda Berbeco


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 EastBay, 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

Highlighted Events in September:

Legends and Myths of the Prairie Wolf
Wednesday, 9/3/14 10am-12pm
Muir Woods National Monument
One of the most adaptable mammals in the world, the coyote is widespread not only in range but also in mythology and folklore. Learn why the coyote is such a successful survivor and the topic of so many stories. This family-friendly, two-mile walk is easy to moderate with some steep hills. Cost: Free w/reservations.

Pritzker Lecture: Metal Munching Plants
Wednesday, 9/3/14 7:30pm
California Academy of Sciences
Did you know that some plants like to eat metal? Over 1,000 species of plants are known to gobble up and store heavy metals, including a host of toxic elements such as nickel, cadmium, zinc, arsenic, and selenium. Cost: $12, Free to members.



River Otters: Back on the Bay Area Map
Thursday, 9/4/14 12pm
Point Reyes Station
Join us as Megan Isadore discusses what’s known, what needs to be discovered, and just how the River Otter Ecology Project manages to research elusive, secretive mammals who slide into the water and disappear when approached. Cost: Free

Tech + Tastings
Thursday, 9/4/14 Registration begins at 5:50pm
Santana Row Park, San Jose
Join us on with Tech Museum of Innovation for Tech + Tastings. Ticket includes access to hands-on tech exhibits, wine & food pairings, exclusive discounts to Santana Row Shops & Restaurants and a Signature Santana Row wine glass. *Must be 21 years or older to attend. Cost: $40

Chabot Hosts: A Planet for Goldilocks
Friday, 9/5/14 7pm
Chabot is proud to partner with Ask a Scientist and Wonderfest to host this enlightening lecture, “A Planet for Goldilocks,” about the search for other planets that might harbor life. The quest to find Earth-like planets has captivated our imagination for centuries. Cost: $15/$25 including general admission

The Beating Hearts of Galaxies
Friday, 9/5/14 8pm
San Mateo County Astronomical Society
Dr. Werner will talk about his research into supermassive black holes and the cosmic web. He will show us observations, which reveal how the enormous amounts of energy released when matter falls into supermassive black holes helped to sculpt the galaxies and the surrounding large scale structure of the Universe.

The Coming Revolution in Urban Water (free Bay Currents talk)
Tuesday, 9/9/14 7-9pm
Five Creeks, Albany
Turn on your faucet and clean water pours out. Pull the drain plug and dirty water disappears. Professor David Sedlak, author of the new book “Water 4.0,” outlines the three revolutions that brought us this undervalued wonder, and the re-invention needed to give the Bay Area — and civilization — safe, drought-proof water systems friendly to nature and vibrant urban life.

Lessons Learned from Drinking Water Treatment, Fuel-Efficient Cookstoves, and Energy Efficient Lights
Wednesday, 9/10/14 12-1pm
UC Berkeley
Dr. Ashok Gadgil has a doctorate in physics from UC Berkeley. He is Director of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley. He has substantial experience in technical, economic, and policy research on energy efficiency. Cost: Free

The Return of the Wolf
Wednesday, 9/10/14 7-8:30pm
California’s first confirmed wild wolf in nearly 90 years is here! OR-7 has found a mate and is raising puppies just over the border. A big wake-up call for Californian’s is evolving rapidly. The state’s wolf management plan could set the tone for the rest of the U.S.
Cost: $8

Thursday, 9/11/14 4pm
Happy Hollow Park and Zoo comes to your library! Join us with your whole family for a fun filled program with live critters and learn about adaptations, habitat, diet, and more. Cost: Free

California Dry Times Drought Forum: A Detailed Discussion of all Things H2O
Thursday, 9/11/14 6-7:45pm
San Jose Public Library
The Bay Area is enduring a parched summer, with profound implications for life and livelihoods. The list of towns and water districts with water restrictions — both mandatory and voluntary — is growing rapidly. Officials worry about key reservoirs. Cost: Free

Galaxy Formation and Evolution Speaker: Robert Feldman
Friday, 9.12.14 7:30pm
Peninsula Astronomical Society
The Peninsula Astronomical Society is a group of some 200 Bay Area astronomy enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds. Some members are professionally trained in astronomy, others are just starting and have never looked through a telescope before. One thing that we all have in common is an interest in the sky. Cost: Free

Open House at Bodega Bay Marine Labs
Saturday, 9/13/14 1-5pm
Bodega Bay
“Meet the Scientists” at UC Davis Bodega Marine Lab’s open house. Cost: Free

Marine Mammal Sunday: Orcas and Sharks
Sunday, 9/14/14 11am-4pm
Marine Mammal Center, Sausalito
The size, strength and skills of the ocean’s top predators are simply one of a kind. This month we celebrate National Wildlife Day with those animals that rule the ocean in Top Predators: Orcas and Sharks! Come learn more at Marine Science Sunday – fun educational programs for kids and adults! Cost: Free

The World Isn’t Flat: The Importance of Topography in Understanding the Impacts of Climate Change
Speaker: Dr. Marko Spasojevic, Department of Biology, Washington University
Sonoma State University
Tuesday, 9/16/14 12-1pm
Cost: Free

Becoming a Wildlife Detective
Wednesday, 9/17/14 10am-12pm
Muir Woods National Monument
Explore our local wildlife and how they have adapted to their environment by examining various animal pelts and skulls with Ranger Michelle. Discover various clues animals leave behind that tell us interesting stories about the amazing animals that make Muir Woods their home. This is a family friendly, two-mile walk. Cost: Free with reservation

North American Birds and Climate Change
Thursday, 9/18/14 7:30pm
Golden Gate Audubon Society
Audubon scientists recently completed a comprehensive analysis modeling the winter and summer ranges of 588 North American bird species in response to future climate change. Using extensive citizen science data and detailed climate layers, these models characterize the relationship between the distribution of each species and climate through the end of the century. Cost: $5, Free for members

Cool, Clear Waters
Saturday, 9/20/14 9:30am-12pm
Muir Beach
Take an easy two-mile walk with Ranger Lou around an ecological restoration site to learn how the needs of salmon and frogs can inspire people to create habitat for endangered and threatened species during a time of climate change, and still meet the recreational needs of visitors at this popular. Cost: Free with reservation

Big Engineering Day
Saturday, 9/20/14 11am-4pm
Chabot Space Center
Big Engineering Day highlights the importance of everyday engineering and the tools we use to bring big ideas to fruition. How do thoughts become things? From brainstorming – think blue prints, computer rendering and sketches – to being – think, machinery, construction and computers. Engage your creativity and structural sensibilities! Cost: Free with admission

Marine Mammal Sunday: Sea Otter Spectacular
Sunday, 9/21/14 11am-4pm
The Marine Mammal Center
Did you know that the sea otter is the furriest animal in the entire world? The smallest marine mammal is also one of the most special with adaptations to stay warm, find food, and even use tools! This month we celebrate the threatened species with our Sea Otter Spectacular! Cost: Free with admission

Developing the Next Generation of Energy Efficiency
Monday, September 22 4:15-5:15pm
Stanford, Precourt Institute for Technology
Speaker: Dian Grueneich, Senior Research Scholar, Stanford University
Ms. Grueneich is a leader in the deployment of SmartGrid technologies to optimize the reliability, security and efficiency of the electrical grid and maximize the potential of demand side resources and the electrification of transportation systems. She serves on the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Electricity Advisory Committee and its Smart Grid Subcommittee. Cost: Free

Full-Spectrum Science with Ron Hipschman: Heat and Temperature
Thursday, 9/25/14 8pm
Join Exploratorium scientist Ron Hipschman for colorful explorations of the physical world. What’s the difference between heat and temperature? We use the terms interchangeably, but they have precise meanings to physicists. How does your thermostat work and how does a Thermos® know to keep a hot thing hot and a cold? Cost: Free with admission

Latino Engineering Day/Día de la Ingeniería
Sunday, 9/28/14 10am-5pm
Join us for a family-friendly collaboration between the Exploratorium and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). Latino Engineering Day/Día de la Ingeniería, combines panel discussions, presentations on the science and engineering heritage of Latinos, and playful activities such as Geodesic Gumdrops and Scribbling Machines. Cost: Free

Upcoming Summer Professional Development Opportunities
Ecological Society of America presents: LifeDiscovery – Doing Science organization
Friday & Saturday, October 3-4
San Jose State University in San Jose, CA
The 2nd Life Discovery – Doing Science Conference (LDC) focuses on innovative approaches to instruction and assessment that are suitable, scalable, and adaptable to secondary and post-secondary levels of education, aligning with the objectives of both the K12 Next Generation Science Standards and the Vision and Change for Undergraduate Biology Education.
Cost: $135 (discounts available)
For more information, visit their website

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.