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 a member of CSTA.

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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. 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 California NGSS k-8 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy:

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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