November 2, 2016
High School Science Newsletter #4

Students should have opportunities to plan and carry out several different kinds of investigations during their K-12 years. At all levels, they should engage in investigations that range from those structured by the teacher - in order to expose an issue or question that they would be unlikely to explore on their own - to those that emerge from students’ own questions.” (NRC Framework, 2012, p. 61)

Science investigations are most often carried out to describe a phenomenon, to test a theory, or to provide a model for how the world works. In engineering, investigations provide an opportunity to determine how to fix or improve a system, or to compare different solutions to see which best solves a problem. Over time and through repeated opportunities for planning and carrying out investigations, students are expected to become more systematic and careful in their methods. This includes determining which variables should be varied or controlled during trials and how to plan for data collection under different conditions. 



The California Department of Education confirmed in an October meeting that, starting in spring 2017, it will NOT administer the old California Science Test (based on science standards from 1998).

The new science assessment will be known as CAST – California Science Test. The alternate science assessment will be known as CAAS – California Alternate Assessment for Science. Both CAST and CAAS will be administered in grades 5, 8, and once in grades 10-12. 

CAST and CAAS Pilots:
The CAST and CAAS will be piloted in spring of 2017 and 2018. All 5th and 8th graders will participate in the CAST pilot or CAAS pilot. CDE will assign each high school a grade to be assessed in science. All high schools will participate in the pilot and CDE plans to notify high schools which grade will be assessed by January 2017. All students in the grade assigned to the high school will participate in the pilot.

The CAST Pilot will take approximately one hour for students to complete and will consist of 25 discrete items and one computer-based performance task. The pilot will not be scored. Information from the pilot will be used to develop the new science assessments. 

More information on the pilot and components of the CAST and CAAS assessments


Thirty-two SFUSD HS science teachers and their students are now field testing Core Curriculum Common Learning Experiences (CLEs)! The CLEs were developed by the HS Science R&D Team and piloted last spring. Kits were packed, delivered to sites and are now being used by our students. Kudos to all who developed these lesson sequences and to those that are now field testing. Feedback will be used to revise the CLEs in preparation for full district implementation in 2017-18. 
The SFUSD HS Science R&D Team is composed of twenty high school science teachers and science partners. This fall, the team has been working to develop two additional Common Learning Experiences (CLEs) per content area. These CLEs include: 
  • Life Science: Fire Ecology (Human Impact) & Photosynthesis & Earth's Coevolution 
  • Chemistry: Dyes & Dyeing (Materials Science) & Introduction to Climate Change
  • Physics: Information Transfer & Plate Tectonics
The team will be meeting on 11/8 to complete the CLEs for classroom piloting. 
From Judy Gerber, Science Safety Officer

Google GogglesWe hope those Google Goggles are getting good use in your classroom. Please send pictures to showing them in use. Please remember--no full-face photos or pictures that make the students easily identifiable.

The Dot System: Please continue using the "dot system" for tracking chemical use at your site. Any time you use a chemical, put a sticker on the container with the date so you know it's in use. That way, when it comes time to clear out waste towards the end of the year, you'll know what you no longer need because it won't have a sticker on it. Contact Judy if your department needs stickers (dots). 

Benchtop Treatment for Disposal:
  • Sometimes chemistry and biology teachers carry out procedures with waste generated by student labs in order to reduce the volume of waste that needs to be disposed of. We are asking teachers who do this to collect the waste without doing these procedures until we have professional development on the processes. For now, all chemical and biological products of labs are to be put aside for waste pickup later in the school year. For those of you who do not do benchtop treatments please continue collecting lab product waste as usual. 
  • Email Judy to request additional waste containers. 
Any safety questions? Check and if you can't find the answer there, send me an e-mail and I'll help you out:

  • (6-8, 9-12) Science & Health Education Partnership (SEP) This partnership program brings together UCSF volunteers (graduate students, post-docs or laboratory researchers), and middle and high school teachers in SFUSD.Through this program, teachers have a unique opportunity to collaborate in order to design creative, hands-on lessons for their students. Applications due by Friday November 4th. Learn more here
  • Prototype with us! Join Cal Academy and their partners from IDEO's The Teachers Guild for an evening of prototyping and fun!This is a great opportunity to meet other innovative Bay Area educators, learn more about the design thinking process, and build out ideas! More information & registration. November 10, 2016, 6-8 pm followed by Nightlife!
  • Design Thinking Workshops at Stanford’s Sign up for a free Discover Design Thinking workshop at Stanford’s 
    • Design Thinking Burst Join the from 6-8pm for a brief introduction to the design thinking process. This crash course is open to all educators who are curious about the design thinking process and want a quick experience working on a design challenge. November 15. Please bring a collaborator! Learn more and apply.
  • NOAA Teacher At Sea Program: The mission of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Teacher at Sea Program is to provide teachers hands-on, real-world research experience working at sea with world-renowned NOAA scientists, thereby giving them unique insight into oceanic and atmospheric research crucial to the nation. The program provides a unique opportunity for kindergarten through college-level teachers to sail aboard NOAA research ships to work under the tutelage of scientists and crew. Learn more here Deadline: 11/30/2016
  • Cal Academy Distance Learning Programs Can’t bring your students on an Academy field trip next year? Too far away to rent a kit? Or just want to add excitement to your science curriculum? Register to preview distance learning programs here.


  • The LIGHT Awards are a program of the Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation that seeks to improve the U.S. educational system in order to provide opportunities for all students to be productive members of their communities. Form a team, decide on a project idea and apply for a grant. Deadline for current grant cycle: January 12, 2017.
  • Genentech Great Lab Supply Giveaway 11/5 Calling all educators! Stock your classroom or lab with with consumable lab supplies and gently used equipment. You must register to attend and sign the liability release waiver to receive lab supplies at the Giveaway. Only one waiver is needed per school. Please print, sign and email to
  • Science Films for the Classroom: Cal Academy's award-winning planetarium shows are now available for educators to stream directly to your classroom! Check the shows out here!
  • Free Science & Engineering Practices Poster for Science Fair Projects: Synopsys Silicon Valley Science & Technology Outreach Foundation designed an infographic that matches examples of science projects with accepted science and engineering practices. Download a copy of the poster.  
  •  Free Crosscutting Concepts Posters: Decorate your classroom with posters representing the NGSS Crosscutting Concepts and refer to them as you make connections in your science lessons! Educators may download and print these posters for noncommercial education use for free! Available on the John Muir Laws website
  • is an official government website designed to accelerate the use of crowdsourcing and citizen science across the U.S. government. The site provides a portal to three key assets for federal practitioners: a searchable catalog of federally supported citizen science projects, a toolkit to assist with designing and maintaining projects, and a gateway to a federal community of practice to share best practices.
  • Exploratorium Teacher Institute Science Snacks: An Exploratorium Snack is a hands-on science activity. Science Snacks are divided into easy-to-follow sections that include instructions, advice, and helpful hints. Explore Science Snacks
  • The National Center for Science Education launched this initiative to defend and support the teaching of climate change. The site has four sections: Climate Change 101, Teaching About Climate Change, Climate Change Denial, and Taking Action. Explore the website here!
  • Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide: The US Fish and Wildlife Service's Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide: A planning guide for creating schoolyard habitat and outdoor classroom projects outlines the steps for creating a wildlife habitat on school grounds. The guide is useful for K-12 teachers interested in encouraging stewardship through action. Download the guide in English or Spanish.
  • 6th Annual Discovery Day @ AT&T Park: There will hundreds of hands-on activities, opportunities to meet local scientists and engineers, and plenty of fun and educational entertainment. The entire ballpark is packed to the rafters with science content: on the field, at every entry/exit, and every level of the ballpark. Get ready to unleash your inner scientist. FREE to all! Saturday, November 5, 10am-5pm. Information & to request FREE early entrance tickets. 
  • ChickTech: High School is a program created to show high school girls that engineering can be fun and exciting. They have created a comprehensive academic year-long program that begins with a weekend-long event for a cohort of 100 high school girls in December. The program is free and is designed to reach girls who may not otherwise consider a career in STEM. Nominations from teachers are due on Friday, November 5
  • Climate Action Film Contest, SF Green Film Festival 2017 Make a 3 min. film that inspires people to green our city! The contest is open to everyone. It is free to enter and there are no restrictions on style or genre, when the work was made, or how many entries you may submit. Finalists receive cash prizes, filmmaking software, plus a special screening of their film at Green Film Fest 2017. Youth submissions are particularly welcome! Contest details can be found here. Submission Deadline: Dec. 31.
  • Slide Ranch School Programs Slide Ranch connects children to nature through hands-on programs at their coastal farm and nature preserve. School programs are weekday and overnight environmental education workshops that cultivate healthy bodies and minds, and foster future generations of environmental stewards. More information can be found here.Scholarship and transportation grants available. Applications for Spring programs will be considered beginning Oct. 15.
  • Breakthrough Junior Challenge: Make a short film about a big idea in science or math! One winner is recognized every year and awarded a $250,000 college scholarship. The teacher who inspired the winning student receives a $50,000 prize. The winner’s school also receives a state-of-the art science lab valued at $100,000. More information for students here:
  • Youth Crew at the Marine Mammal Center is accepting applications now! Youth Crew is an multi – year, service learning program offered at The Marine Mammal Center for high school students interested in learning more about the fields of veterinary science and informal education. Students have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience helping to rehabilitate marine mammals and engage the Center’s guests. Youth Crew runs from January – August and all applicants must be in high school (or homeschool), between the ages of 15 – 18 to apply. More information. Application deadline: November 15th
  • Book a 2016-17 Field Trip to Cal Academy: Interested in planning a field trip to the California Academy of Sciences for next school year? Dates are now available through May 2017! San Francisco schools receive free admission for groups in grades preK-12, including preschool. Visit summer, fall, or spring. More information found here.
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.

Dawn Rege, High School Science Content Specialist, Curriculum & Instruction
Katrina Rotter, High School Science Content Specialist, Curriculum & Instruction 
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