January 11, 2017
High School Science Newsletter #7

Models are more than just ‘representations’ of objects, they must be useful for predicting and explaining phenomena. (CA Science Framework, 2016) 

  • A globe is a simple representation of the Earth, but when we combine it with a flashlight it becomes a model used to explain the phenomena of daylight and nighttime.
  • A diagram of the cell and it's labeled parts is a simple representation of a building block of life, but when arrows are included in the diagram to demonstrate how oxygen and other molecules move throughout the cell, the diagram becomes a model representing the process of photosynthesis.

Models can be expressed in a variety of formats from equations and computer simulations to 2-dimensional drawings and 3-D objects. Models offer teachers a window into student thinking, and when students build, share, and revise models, they have an opportunity to revise and refine their conceptual understanding of abstract ideas.

Developing and Using Models is a high leverage practice because it promotes engagement with many of the other Science and Engineering Practices. Student created models aid in the development of questions and explanations. Additionally, models can help generate data and support communication of ideas to others.

More Modeling Resources


Although California's second request for a waiver was denied by the federal government, the California Department of Education remains firm in it's October 2016 decision that it will NOT administer the old California Science Test (based on science standards from 1998).

Science Pilot Tests: The pilot versions of the California Science Test (CAST) and California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science will be included as part of the 2016–17 CAASPP administration. In addition to grades five and 8, the pilots will include an assigned high school grade. The high school grade assignments for San Francisco school sites can be viewed here.

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


The 2016-17 school year brings a new report card to our elementary schools.  The science portion of the report card highlights Science and Engineering Practices (SEP) of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  

We have developed a 90 minute workshop to orient teachers to the use of the Science and Engineering Practices on the new report card and facilitate this transition. 
School Administrators, please contact the Science Team now to schedule a science report card PD session at your school site.


Science and Engineering Practices found in FOSS:Our Elementary Science Team has developed a resource that highlights where the Science and Engineering Practices can be found in our current FOSS curriculum. Click here to view this work in progress.

Report Card Teacher Guides and Rubrics: Scroll to the science portion of your grade level Report Card Teacher Guide to find examples of the SEPs found in FOSS as well as assessment strategies and assessment rubrics.

Research + Practice Collaboratory SEP Assessment Tool: A resource that suggests multiple tasks to incorporate each of the Practices into existing lessons for assessment. Found here.


The spring semester brings a new round of field testing of SFUSD teacher-developed Common Learning Experiences!  Thank you to the 30 high school science teachers that have signed up for CLE training and will be implementing the curriculum in their classes in February and March. 

The 3 CLEs being field tested this spring are: 
  • Biology: Gene Variation in Human Skin Color
  • Chemistry: Energy Transfer in Sea Level Rise
  • Physics: Electromagnetic Induction
Reminder! Please attend the 2 hour training you signed up for!
  • January 25, 4-6pm, SFUSD Office of Curriculum & Instruction, 750 25th Avenue - Multipurpose Room
  • January 26, 4-6pm, SFUSD Science Resource Center, 2055 Sunnydale Avenue
From Judy Gerber, Science Safety Officer

Chemical Inventory: Help your department lead. If you are entering any chemicals you acquire for your classes into MSDS Online as you get them, you will be supporting the science teacher responsible for keeping your inventory up-to-date.

May 5th will be the deadline for schools to have your inventory on MSDS Online updated.

Lab waste: Please continue to store biological and chemical waste appropriately. Details will be available soon with any changes to the pickup request procedures. If you store bio waste in plastic bags, please use clear bags, not red biohazard bags. The plastic buckets specimens come in are also acceptable 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:

Free and Compensated
  • Nautilus Live: Do you or someone you know have a passion for ocean exploration? A drive to communicate the thrill of discoveries to the world? Ocean Exploration Trust applications are now open for the Science Communication Fellowship and Science and Engineering Internship Programs! More information & to apply.  You can also ask SFUSD’s Jan Bautista ( about her experience on the Nautilus. Deadline: 1/13/2017
  • Reading to Learn in Science Online PD: Reading and writing are fundamental to science, yet are rarely a focus of science teacher education. "Reading to Learn in Science" provides an opportunity for science teachers to learn about the challenges of science texts and develop strategies to support student comprehension before, during, and after reading.Visit or read this article about last year's MOOC offering to learn more! Course begins January 14, 2017.
  • Stanford Hollyhock Fellowship: The Center to Support Excellence in Teaching at Stanford has a fully funded fellowship opportunity for high school teachers in their 2nd –7th year of teaching. Applications are due January 16, 2017. More information & to apply!
  • Summer Institute for Teachers @ The Exploratorium: Join us this summer for three weeks of nonstop science exploration. The institute supports the content and pedagogy described in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).During the institutes, teachers work with each other and with staff scientists and educators to learn more about science teaching. 2017 Summer Institute Dates: June 19-July 7. Stipend: $2500. Application open through March 15, 2017.  More information & to apply! 
  • Amgen Biotech Experience Workshop: Teacher Professional Development: Abridged ABE Series: This event is open to all Bay Area high school science teachers interested in teaching the Amgen Biotech Experience curriculum. The curriculum includes basic biotechnology laboratories and techniques through the lens of learning about diabetes and the manufacturing of insulin through recombinant technology. Dates: January 21 & 22, 9am-4pm. More information & to register! 
  • Saturday Seminar: “It’s NOT Whatever: Dangerous Teacher Development towards Innovating and Recreating You” with science workshop Enacting Social Justice in the Science Classroom. Date: January 21, 2017, 8:45am-12:15pm at Longfellow Middle School. Fees: None! More information & to register!
  • Discover the Microbes Within Workshop: Join the Bay Area community of bioscience teachers for a day of learning about ecological sampling techniques, symbiotic microbes and coevolution, and new approaches for disease vector control. Date: Saturday, January 28, 2017, 8:30am-3pm @ CCSF Mission Center. Fee: $25 refundable fee. Lunch and $50 stipend provided. More information & to register! 
  • Education & Environmental Initiative Teacher Training @ Chabot Space & Science Center: Come learn about the Education and Environmental Initiative (EEI), a free K-12 curriculum that teaches critical-skills in science and history-social science using environmental topics such as water and energy as a lens. Date: February 11, 2017, 9-11:30am. Fees: None! - Plus receive a full class set of one of the EEI units. More information & to register! 


  • Gray Whale Watching with Gulf of the Farallones Marine Sanctuary: Witness the gray whale migration on this naturalist led half-day cruise. Whales are migrating south through our marine sanctuaries as they travel from Arctic feeding grounds to Baja California breeding grounds. Learn about their natural history, their recovery from near extinction, and the survival challenges posed by their roughly 12,000 mile round-trip journey. Saturday, January 14, 2017, 9am-12pm. Registration fee: $57. More information & to register! 
  • Makey Makey Workshop! This is a great opportunity for physics teachers! The Makey Makey Education team will offer a fun hands-on workshop at The Tech Museum in San Jose where you'll learn how to teach Invention Literacy, Making, and Design Thinking using the award winning Makey Makey invention kit. The last hour and a half will be spent in a Train-the-Trainer format, in order to prepare you to train other educators to use Makey Makey. Each participant will receive a Makey Makey to take home (a $50 value). Date: Saturday, January 28, 2017, 9am-3pm. Fee: $35. More information & to register!
  • Discovering the Colors of our Earth and Sky: This workshop is offered in partnership between CA Academy of Science and the deYoung. Spend two days investigating this question: What colors are our earth and sky? This workshop, designed for middle-school teachers, integrates content related to physical and life sciences with practices that help you prompt your students into deeper ways of thinking through engagement with art. Saturdays, March 11 and March 18, 2017, 9am-4pm. Fee: $25 that is refunded after your attendance. More information & to register! 


  • 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.
  • Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Grant Program 2017 Request for Proposals: The Five Star and Urban Waters program will award approximately $2.5 million in grants nationwide. Priority will be given to projects in urban, suburban and/or rural areas that advance water quality goals in environmental justice communities such as neighborhoods with high concentrations of minority and low-income populations. Projects that increase access to the benefits of nature, reduce the impact of environmental hazards and engage these communities in the project planning, outreach and implementation will have priority for funding. Requirements and funding details. Deadline for proposals: Tuesday, January 31, 2017
  • Captain Planet Foundation Grants: The Captain Planet Foundation is looking for projects that support environmental education through out-of-the-classroom activities that encourage students to get involved in saving the Earth. Projects should promote interaction between students and improve problem solving skills. Projects from urban and rural schools will receive preference. Grants range from $250 to $2,500. More information. Deadline typically January 31 for fall and winter projects.
  • National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week is January 23-29. This site helps you plan an event and provides student resources.
  • New Infographic (Poster)! NSTA has released its newest infographic on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). How Today's Students Learn Science is presented in a fun, comic-book style and showcases science and engineering practices in action. The infographic is available now on the NGSS@NSTA Hub
  • 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!
  • Human Population Through Time: Studying human impact on Earth? This American Museum of Natural History video gives students a good sense of how the human population has changed over time and is how it is projected to change in the future.
  • 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
  • (K-12) 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!
  • CA Coastal Commission Coastal Art & Poetry Contest: Submit art or poetry with a California coastal or marine theme. Winners receive $100 gift certificates to an art supply or book store. Each winner's teacher will receive a $50 gift certificate for educational supplies. Art and poetry will be featured online and exhibited throughout CA. Contest guidelines & entry form. Deadline: 1/31/2017
  • 12th grade students: The Geoscientists-in-the-Parks (GIP) program works with partners to match college students and recent graduates age 18 - 35 years old with short-term, paid, internships with the National Park Service. Participants may assist with research, synthesis of scientific literature, geologic mapping, GIS analysis, site evaluations, resource inventorying and monitoring, impact mitigation, developing brochures and informative media presentations, and educating park staff and park visitors.GIP positions can last from 3 months to one-year. Deadline: February 2, 2017. More information & to apply! 
  • Sign-up your class for live ship-to-shore events during International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 366: Mariana Convergent Margin, December 15 – February 7! Events are live and interactive from the JOIDES Resolution research ship. Requests for interactive, 30-45-minute Zoom interactions are handled on a first come, first served basis. Sign-up here!  
  • 2017 Youth for the Environment and Sustainability (YES) Conference: The 2017 YES Conference is a FUN, free-of-charge, annual event that brings together middle- and high-school students from the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties to discuss solutions to the climate change crisis. The conference aims to raise awareness of how our transportation choices affect our families, our communities, our air and our planet. Date: Saturday, February 25, 2017 in San Francisco. More information & to register! 
  • January 22, 2017: Free Community Day at the Exploratorium
  • January 25 & 26: SFUSD HS Science Core Curriculum Field Test Trainings
  • February 1, 2017: HS Science R&D Day @ SFUSD Science Resource Center
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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