May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Water, Water, Everywhere! – News & Events in Region 1

Posted: Thursday, December 1st, 2011

by Valerie Joyner

Throughout our region and across the state we are heading straight into winter. We have already seen snow and rain, and look forward to more water falling from our skies. From snow high atop Mt. Shasta and the Trinity Alps, to the foggy and rainy days of our Central Valley, to the wind and rain whipped shores of our coast we can all appreciate this natural resource. Water, so critical to life on Earth, is tied to many aspects of our lives on a daily basis, as well as the curriculum we teach.


This time of year offers a great opportunity to pull water concepts into our science studies with some hands on experiences. One way I integrate water into my curriculum is through recording rainfall amounts each year. For the past several years my primary students have checked our rain gauge after each rain storm and recorded the amount of rainfall on a graph. We have rainfall records dating back to 2000. Throughout the year my students graph rainfall amounts in their science notebooks, compare amounts to previous year’s rainfall, and learn to read rainfall statistics in our local newspapers.
Students begin to see that rain falls at varying rates throughout our county. Another aspect of my water integration unit is the all time student favorite, the Room 4 Rainfall Report. This is a great tradition at our school, one that the students learn from and enjoy. After collecting rain and recording amounts, the students and I put together a rainfall report that is read over the school loudspeaker for all students to hear. After the report is finalized, three students are selected to give the report. They practice their given lines, and then go to the principal’s office.

Each rainfall report starts out the same: “Drip Drop, Drip Drop, we are your room 4 Rainfall Reporters for today”. A recording of a storm can often be heard in the background. The students go on to introduce themselves and then read the report over the school’s speaker system. The reports consists of three parts, first the current rainfall amounts are shared, followed by some rain trivia (the wettest place in the world, greatest amount of rainfall in one day, comparing rainfall in other local cities, etc.), and concluding with possible forecasts or updates on total rainfall for the year. The students end by saying “Drip Drop, Drip Drop, we are your room 4 Rainfall Reporters for today signing off“!

Using the winter months to explore and teach water concepts is an ideal way to support our students in applying science to their everyday lives; that crucial experiential form of learning. We can integrate water concepts like surface tension, solutions and dilutions, erosion, and cloud formation with water quality and conservation in our science classes. Whether we are teaching our students earth, physical, or life sciences, water always plays a role in that study. It is an integral part of many of our investigations and experiments.

We all have found and/or developed successful water science lessons, some integrated into other curricular areas and others specific to our area of study. Using our new technologies like whiteboards, document cameras, and computers adds new opportunities for our students – just see what a web search in your local area yields. Normally we try to schedule field trips for sunny weather, but a local wetland, marsh, or seasonal creek during the winter months can host an unforgettable learning experience for your students. What about a photo safari in the field followed by a session where the group works together to classify the photos on the smartboard?

I encourage you to think of all of the ways you use water throughout your science curriculum, and spend some time working with your students to find applications between their area of study and water. I would love to hear your ideas.

Events and Resources in Region 1

Bay Area Environmental Education Resources (BAEER) Fair
Saturday, January 21, 2012, 10:00 am – 4:30 pm
3501 Civic Center Drive San Rafael, CA

Spend the day at the 35th annual BAEER Fair! This year there will be workshops for teachers, parents, students, and community members interested in wildlife, ecology, adventure and much more.  Over 70 resources will be available for learning about conservation and wildlife education, school gardens, and strategies for fostering environmental awareness. Discover the latest in classroom materials, environmental education programs, and field trip sites.

For more information, go to, or call 510-657-4847.

Free Environmental Education Resources for Sonoma County Teachers (K-6)
The Sonoma County Office of Education has obtained free units of A Child’s Place in the Environment (ACPE) for distribution throughout Sonoma County.  These units, in self-contained binders, each contain 19 or 20 interdisciplinary lessons with pages in Spanish, that are designed to encourage students to become environmentally literate and to participate in environmental projects.

For more information contact Mike Roa at

California Regional Environmental Education Community (CREEC) Network
The CREEC Network is one of California’s environmental education projects.  The network provides both state and regional newsletters that list workshops, curriculum materials, grant opportunities, and other items for science and environmental educators.

For more information go to, where you can request a Region 1 newsletter. You can request to be put on their mailing list.

Valerie Joyner is district science lead teacher for Petaluma City Schools and is the CSTA’s region 1 director.

Written by Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner is a retired elementary science educator and is CSTA’s Primary (grades K-2) Director.

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Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here:

Please contact Rosanne Luu at or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

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.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). 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.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. 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.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. 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.