November 22, 2013
High School Science Newsletter #6
 Office of Curriculum & Instruction
STEM Department - Science Division
Spotlight on School Gardens
San Francisco has long had the same issue as many urban school districts: students who live in the city often don’t have a strong connection to nature or the food that they eat. Thanks to several bonds and programs like Education Outside, which places garden coordinators in schools, many schools now have gardens that are used as outdoor teaching spaces. Below are snapshots of three school gardens, the story of their beginnings and how they are currently utilized at the school site.

AP Giannini Middle School
AP Giannini’s garden began when their school was included in the 2003 bond, slating them to receive $100,000. The garden space was planned out in 2007, and created in 2011. Parents and teachers have worked with students to create an outdoor classroom complete with seating, a greenhouse, a native garden, fruits and vegetables, herb spiral, compost and vermiculture, and the latest addition: a chicken coop, which is currently in the process of expanding into a chicken run. Christian Johnson, a 7th grade biology teacher at Giannini, has taken on the maintenance of the garden and the chickens. He reports that students seem to enjoy the simplest outdoor tasks the most - dumping soil out of wheelbarrows, digging, foraging for berries and harvesting vegetables. Christian anticipates that with the upcoming addition of a garden coordinator, more classrooms will begin to use the garden as an outdoor classroom space.

Fairmount Elementary School
Fairmount’s garden began around 6 years ago as parents began transforming unpaved spaces. Fairmount was able to create a full outdoor classroom three years ago with the help of bond money and the Education Outside program. Today, the garden is being managed and expanded by Education Outside educator Xochi Batlle, and Dorthee, a retired community volunteer whose career was in nonprofit gardening work. The current iteration of the garden features newly planted fruit trees, raised beds full of greens, squash, and radishes, fragrant herbs, and a beautiful and prolific old apple tree, bent by the wind. Through the garden, Xochi is able to cover many topics, including the cycle of life, photosynthesis and interactions of plants and animals. During a visit after school, students couldn’t stay away from the garden space, and Xochi and Dorthee happily spent time with them, watering, answering questions, identifying new plants and engaging the children’s five senses.

John O’Connell High School
John O’Connell High School boasts a beautiful garden space on the Harrison Street side of their schoolyard. The garden has been in existence for several years, at one time as a community garden. The space went into disrepair, and was underutilized. In 2002, students and teachers revitalized the garden with a major cleanup. Today, Calder Gillam manages the garden space as part of the Schoolyard to Market program through Urban Sprouts and CUESA. The garden is used as a teaching tool not only in science and sustainability, but also nutrition and cooking, social studies and career readiness. Students care for the garden, harvest fruits and vegetables and then bring their produce to the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market to sell it to the public once a semester. Calder believes strongly in connecting students to nature, especially in an urban environment like the Mission District. He also feels that the entrepreneurial nature of the program gives students a special opportunity to learn business and life skills that will serve them well in the future. Calder would like to encourage more O'Connell parents and Mission community members to volunteer and connect with the garden.

Education Outside - places Corps members at school sites to build, manage, and teach about the garden. This site is also a great resource for learning more about starting a school garden.
Schoolyard to Market - works with urban high school students to grow, harvest and sell produce in San Francisco and Treasure Island.
Urban Sprouts - cultivates school gardens to 
build eco-literacy, equity, wellness, and community in underserved neighborhoods.
CUESA - promotes and educates about sustainable, healthy food throughout the Bay Area.
Opportunities and Resources for Secondary Science Teachers!

  • Recruiting Focus Group Members for CA Science Framework: The CA Department of Education is pleased to announce that it is recruiting members for five focus groups to provide input on the upcoming Science Framework.  The Science Framework will incorporate and support the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) adopted by the State Board of Education in September 2013. The deadline for applications is 3 PM PT on 12/2. Click here for more information.  
  • KQED Science E-book Focus Group: KQED Education has developed four science e-books and needs your help! They’d like feedback to ensure that they are developing the most useful and useable materials possible. They are looking for middle and high school science teachers to participate in a focus group who have some experience using iPads and/or with access to iPads at their schools. Participants will receive a $50 stipend.  Saturday, Dec. 7, 8 AM-12 PM or 12:30-4:30 PM.  Click here for more information and to sign-up.  
  • Life Sciences - What is this thing called life? FEAST Session: There's a long list of topics that can fall under the life science umbrella.  Examine your science curriculum and you'll probably find a lot of connections.  Teachers are encouraged to seize the opportunity to share an activity or two around this topic!  Bring a flash drive & an electronic file of your activity to share - computers will be available. Get information & RSVP here or just show up. Sat, Dec 7, 9 AM-noon at Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland.  
  • Teacher Supply Giveaway at SCRAP: SCRAP hosts a monthly teacher materials giveaway for all San Francisco teachers! Stop by on Sat, Dec 7, 1-4 PM at SCRAP.
  • Salmon Fishing and Ecology in Central California:  Join The Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary for an exciting teacher workshop on Saturday, 12/7, dedicated to all things salmon in Central California!  This workshop includes a presentation from salmon fisherman Mike Hudson, an external and internal dissection of a King Salmon, educational materials, and the chance to schedule Mike for classroom presentations.  Click here for more information on the workshop and how to register.
  • Attend a public lecture at the AGU Fall Meeting.  Dr. Lucile Jones will discuss how science can improve society's resiliency to earthquakes.  Sunday, 12/8, 12-1 PM in Room 102 at Moscone Center South.  An additional family-friendly event being held at the AGU Fall Meeting on 12/8 is Exploration Station.  In this family friendly event, kids can explore science through hands-on activities and one-on-one interactions with scientists, engineers, and education specialists.   1-5 PM in Rooms 103 and 104 at Moscone Center South.  Click here for more information!
  • Nautilus Exploration Program- STEAM Communication Fellowships: The Ocean Exploration Trust is now accepting applications for educators to participate in the 2014 Naturalist Exploration program season that will explore the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and Black Sea regions.  Click here for more information about opportunities available to you.  Applications  are due 12/13. 
  • The Stanford Hollyhock Fellowship Application for High School Teachers is Live!  This fellowship program is designed to support early-career high school teachers by providing them with opportunities to develop expertise in teaching their content area and leadership skills.  Applicants should have 2-7 years of teaching experience.  Click here for more information on the fellowship and to apply.  Applications are due January 15, 2014. 
  • Amgen Award for for Science Teaching Excellence: Win $5000 for you and $5000 for your school for your excellence in elevating the level of science literacy through creativity in the classroom and motivation of students. You must have 3 or more years teaching experience before the 2013-2014 school year. Click here for more information and to apply.  The deadline for applications is January 28, 2014.
  • CSTA Board of Directors Region 2: SFUSD's Eric Lewis has served on the CSTA's Board of Directors and has been termed out. It would be great to have another SFUSD teacher serve the two-year term. Information here and application here.  Please submit your application by January 31, 2014.
  • LiMPETS Introduction to Sandy Beach & Rocky Intertidal Monitoring: Get trained to do authentic, hands-on coastal monitoring experiences with your students to conduct real science at monitoring sites in SF and along the coast of CA. $50 stipend. Register here ASAP! Dates: Sat, Feb 15 (Sandy Beach in SF) and Sat, March 1 in Moss Beach.
  • CCSS Literacy in Science On-line Professional Learning Module: This module integrates science content with literacy standards reflecting key shifts in teaching speaking and listening, writing, and reading as emphasized by the Common Core State Standards.  Click here for access.
  • HHMI's BioInteractive Releases Four New Short Films!  Teach ahead of the textbook with HHMI's short films, lectures, teacher resources, multimedia, and interactive features.  the four new short films include: The Double Helix, The Making of a Theory, The Beak of a Finch, and Lizards in an Evolutionary Tree.  Access these films and others here!  
  • Free Admission to the Exploratorium: The Exploratorium is pleased to announce its free admission program for California public school K–12 teachers. The program, sponsored by Genentech, will run for two years: July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014 and July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015. Each year, the first 20,000 teachers to qualify will be given one free, nontransferable, general admission voucher on the date of their choosing. Register here for your free admission ticket.  
  • Re-engineering your Science Curriculum STEM Conference at the Exploratorium on Saturday, 11/23, 9 AM - 7 PM. Join the Exploratorium's Teacher Institute for this day-long conference for middle and high school science teachers.  Tickets are $45.  Click here for more information and to register.  
  • Attend the Fungus Fair on Sunday, 12/8!    This is a special one day event sponsored by the Mycological Society of San Francisco.  Enjoy mushroom displays, guest speakers, mushroom cooking displays, vendors, etc.  SF County Fair Building from 10 AM - 5 PM.  Adults $10, Students $8.  Click here for more information.  
  • California Academy of Sciences has published their Teacher Workshop Schedule for Spring 2014!  Content for high school teachers includes a 3 session series on Climate Myths and a two session series on Infographics in the Classroom.  Tickets are $35.  Click here for more information on these and all Spring 2014 teacher workshops.  
  • AP Science Training: Have questions about the format and content area of the new AP Chemistry course?  Want content area support in AP Biology?   Receive subject-specific support and training to strengthen your AP science course. Click here to access the AP subject area workshops at the February 1, 2014 training at Aragon High School in San Mateo.  Speak with your administrator about getting approval for PROP A Professional Development hours for this training!
  • UCMP Short Course: Where have all the species gone?  Spend a day learning about the complex web of interacting mechanisms that influence extinction both in deep time and today.  The short course isn't until Saturday, March 1st but fills up quickly.  Click here for more information on speakers and to register.  
Upcoming Opportunities for your School and Science Students!

  • Wishbone is currently accepting applications from high school students who would like to attend a top-notch summer program of their choice.  Wishbone is a non-profit organization that enables high school students with limited financial resources to pursue their passions by helping them access and afford high-quality summer and after-school programs.  Please visit to learn more and access the first phase of the application.  
  • The Science & Health Education Partnership at UCSF is currently accepting nominations for their 2014 Summer High School Intern Program.  This is a paid summer internship that provides SFUSD juniors the opportunity to conduct biomedical research in UCSF labs with a scientist mentor.  This is a great chance for students to learn valuable lab skills, science content, and to learn about careers in science.  Students also receive individualized college guidance. Click here to download the nomination packet.  Nominations are due by Friday, December 6, 2013
  • The Arthritis Foundation is now accepting applications for their 2014 Summer Science Internship Program.  This program places 12 outstanding students in laboratories at UCSF and Stanford University.  Interns receive hands-on experience in the fields of rheumatology and immunology.  Students can learn more about the internship and apply through the Summer Science Internship Website:  The deadline for applications is 5 PM on February 21, 2014.  
  • Family Exploration Station by the American Geophysical Union: make your way through 20-30 exhibits offering a variety of easy, family friendly, hands-on activities and an opportunity to interact one-on-one with scientists, engineers, and education specialists. Information here & flyer hereSunday, Dec 8, 1-5 PM, Moscone Center South, Rooms 103-104.
  • The Hour of Code: Help your students understand what coding is (with or without technology) and what is going on behind their favorite tech device. On the Computer Science Education Week website, you'll find lesson plansa flyer to spread the work, and videos on why coding is important. will give EVERY teacher who organizes an Hour of Code in their classroom a coupon for 10GB of free Dropbox storage.  Computer Science Education Week is December 9-15.
  • AMNH Young Naturalist Awards 2014: Enter this research-based science contest for students in grades 7-12.  Winners receive cash awards, expense-paid trip to the AMNH in New York City, and publication of essays on AMNH website.  Entry deadline 3/1/2014.  Click here to learn more.  
  • Nautilus Exploration Honors Research Program: The Ocean Exploration Trust's Honors Research Program invites rising high school seniors (junior year completed by 6/2104) to participate in a seven-week summer program from July 7 - August 8, 2014 with an additional 7-14 days on an oceanographic exploration expedition.  Applications due February 7, 2014.  Click here for more information and to apply. 
Science Field Trips & Presenters
  • Sutro Tower: Field Trip opportunities are available to interested teachers and students to visit Sutro Tower and have a guided tour and informational discussion with the General Manager of the tower inside the control room!  This is a great opportunity for students to see physics concepts and electrical engineering in action.  Contact Katie Tobin at if you are interested or have questions.  You can also contact the tower's spokesperson, Dave Hyams at Logistics:
    Date and Time:  determined by teacher
    Group Size:  10-25  ( can possible accommodate a few more possible with a split group)
    Length:  1-2 hours

  • Chemical Engineer Guest Speakers:  Interested in inviting a chemical engineer for a class presentation or career day? Contact Katie Tobin at to help facilitate this opportunity for your school and students.   
Save the Date for Science Events!  
  • Re-engineering your Science Curriculum STEM Conference at the Exploratorium on Saturday, 11/23,  9 AM - 7 PM.
  • Free Day at California Academy of Sciences on Sunday, 12/8. 
  • 2014 NSTA National Conference in Boston, MA.  April 3-6, 2014. 
  • Check-out hundreds of other Bay Area science-related events here.  
Contact us!  

The Science Team at C & I is here to support your science education needs.  In addition to centrally-located professional development opportunities, we are available to provide on-site individual and department-wide support in: 
  • Common Core Literacy Standards for Science
  • Next Generation Science Standards
  • Integrating science inquiry
  • Data-based inquiry to inform your science instruction 
  • Content and Language Objectives in Science
  • Strategies for English Language Learners
  • Curriculum development
  • Coaching
Dawn Rege, Secondary Science Content Specialist, Science Department (STEM @ C & I)
Katie Tobin, Secondary Science Content Specialist, Science Department (STEM @ C & I)
Eric Lewis, Secondary Science Content Specialist, LEAD - High Schools Division
Copyright © 2013 SFUSD Office of Curriculum & Instruction.  STEM Department, Science Division, All rights reserved.

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