March 1, 2017
High School Science Newsletter #9

Important Information about the California Science Test (CAST) and the California Alternate Assessment (CAA)

This Spring students in fifth, eighth and high school (10, 11, or 12) will take the first draft of the California Science Test (CAST) or the California Alternate Assessment (CAA). Both of these assessments are being developed to assess the CA NGSS. Over the next two years, the CAST and CAA will be revised based on the data collected from the pilot assessment in 2017 and the field test in 2018. The operational CAST and CAA assessments will begin in the Spring of 2019.

The SFUSD Science Team has received many requests for clarification about the CAST/CAA. Below, are the answers to many of the questions we have been asked. We invite you to contact us with additional inquiries. 

Q) When will the CAST/CAA be administered?
The CAST/CAA will be given during the SBAC window starting as early as March 20, 2017. Consult your school’s test coordinator for more information about the scheduling of the assessment.

Q) This year, what should I do to prepare my students for the assessment?
Nothing. This is a test of the test and not of your students’ understanding. Over the next two years, SFUSD will be implementing the SFUSD Science Core Curriculum, which is designed to meet the rigorous, three-dimensional CA NGSS standards. Teachers are encouraged to continue shifting their instruction to align with these new standards.

Q) When will I see my students’ scores? Will my students’ scores be a part of their official record?
This year, this is a test of the test and not of students understanding. As a result, students will not receive scores for the pilot test. It will not be part of their records and parents will not see the scores. However, student participation data (how many students did or did not take the test) will be collected and reported for accountability purposes.

Q) What grades will take the CAST/CAA?
For this year’s pilot, the CAST or CAA will be taken by all California fifth graders, 8th graders, and all students in selected grade levels at each High School (The high school grade assignments are now available on the CAASPP Portal High School Grade Assignments for 2016–17 Science Pilot Testing Web page). When the test becomes operational in 2019, all California fifth graders and 8th graders will be tested. SFUSD will determine when their high school students will take the High School CAST.

Additional FAQs & Resources


Thank you to the 34 high school science teachers and over 3000 science students involved in the field testing of the SFUSD Science Core Curriculum during the months of February and March. Lesson Sequences include: 
  • Biology: Gene Variation in Skin Color
  • Chemistry: Energy Transfer in Sea Level Rise
  • Physics: Electromagnetic Induction 
The Response and Development Team met for their first of three dates during the spring semester. Biology, Chemistry and Physics teachers met on 2/1 to continue the work on the development and revision processes. Future dates include: 3/14 and 4/6.

From Judy Gerber, Science Safety Officer

We have received several inquiries about chemical/bio waste pickups recently. The process is going through a transition, so we do not have a target date for the pickups to restart. Please continue to store waste appropriately. Each time you generate waste, add it to the request for pickup form. That way it will be ready when we let department chairs/leads know it's time to submit the forms.

When in doubt, please ask. Are you planning a new experiment using a different set of chemicals? Do you have questions about whether it will raise safety issues in your particular classroom conditions? Check your resources like MSDSOnline or the CA Science Safety Handbook before proceeding. If you are still not sure, contact

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.

Other 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

  • The SFUSD Summer 2017 High School Credit Recovery program is looking for innovative teachers in the core a-g subjects. You can earn $6,000 + for 5 weeks! If you are interested, and/or have a colleague who may be interested, please apply. Teachers must be employed by the SFUSD now through fall 2017. More information.
  • Marine Science Institute's Ship to Shore Teacher Workshop Learn about MSI's programs, NGSS alignment, engineering and science ideas for your classroom all while enjoying delicious food and drink, along with views of the San Francisco Bay! Click here for more information and to register. March 8, 4:30 - 6:30 pm, Marine Science Institute, Redwood City.
  • 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. More information & to apply!  Deadline to apply: March 15, 2017.  
  • (3/1. 3/22 K-12) Project Atmosphere Workshop: a two-week teacher professional development workshop offered by the American Meteorological Society's Education Program. This project is specifically designed for K-12 teachers who teach science courses with atmospheric content. July 16-28, 2017 at the National Weather Service Training Center in Kansas City, Missouri. $600 stipend, lodging, airfare & food included. Deadline: March 27, 2017. More information & to apply.
  • Arctic Plant Phenology Learning through Engaged Science - APPLES on the West Coast! California teachers will have the opportunity to engage and collaborate with leading polar research scientists and science educators. You will spend 4 days at the University of California, Davis learning about the study of phenology – the seasonal dynamics of plants and animals ‐ in the Arctic to understand ecological impacts of climate change. Focusing on the 3‐dimensions of NGSS, you will engage in inquiry‐based activities that replicate approaches used by scientists in investigating key environmental processes linked to species survival. Dates: June 26-29. More information & to apply. Deadline: April 1, 2017
  • EEI at San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park CalRecycle invites you to come learn about the Environmental Education Initiative (EEI), a free K-12 Environment Based curriculum that teaches critical-skills in science using environmental topics, as a lens. Tour the Maritime park and consider teacher opportunities. Training will include use of EEI materials as a transitional tool for the new California Science Standards. More information hereRegister here by April 1, 2017
  • Stem Cell Teacher Academy is a NSF funded project designed to provide hands-on experiences and instructional training necessary for teachers to incorporate stem cell technologies into their own classrooms. Dates: July 5-7, 2017 at CCSF. More information. $500 stipend.  Deadline: April 14, 2017.
  • Amgen Biotech Experience – Sign up for the Summer 2017 Workshop now! The workshop will be held June 19-22, 2017, at the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley. The Amgen Biotech Experience Complete Series will be covered, including protein purification. More information on curriculum & labs covered in summer workshop & to apply. Deadline: June 2, 2017.


  • Forestry Institute For Teachers (FIT) A week-long residence workshop held at 4 northern California locations in Plumas and Shasta Counties. The goal of FIT is to provide K-12 teachers with knowledge, skills and tools to effectively teach their students about forest ecosystems and human use of natural resources. There is a $25 application fee, but teachers will receive a $200 stipend on completion and implementation of a forest related curriculum unit or project conducted in their classrooms.  Teachers are provided with extensive classroom and curriculum materials correlated with CCSS and NGSS. Four 1-week sessions, June 12- July 16.  More information here.
  • UCMP Short Course: A new look at old bones: Insights on dinosaur growth, development and diversity: Dinosaurs are among the most successful group of vertebrate animals ever to walk on the planet. Their stunning morphological diversity and worldwide fossil record - coupled with their modern-day surviving lineage, the birds - continue to fascinate the student in all of us. Novel analytical tools and techniques allow paleontologists to probe, image, and decipher bone microstructure and preservation critical for testing previously held ideas on dinosaur growth and development. Recent dinosaur discoveries and research by our speakers are helping clarify evolutionary relationships and generate new and exciting questions on dinosaur growth and behavior. Please join us as our experts share their latest research and reveal changing perspectives on the evolution and paleobiology of dinosaurs. More information & to register. Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017, 9-3:30, UC Berkeley. Fee: $30
  • 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! 



  • #ScienceEverywhere Campaign Propose a project that catalyzes math or science learning beyond the school walls and receive matching funds from a number of supporting foundations. These foundations are providing nearly half a million dollars to match donations from the public to fund creative, hands-on project ideas submitted by teachers by  March 24, 2017. More information.
  • UC Davis C-STEM Studio: Robotics and Computing tools for Teachers Teachers can download free tools for teaching math, coding and robotics with C-STEM Studio from the Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education at the UC Davis. C-STEM Studio is a platform for teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics through computing and robotics for integrated learning. It includes code, comprehensive documentation, teacher guides and textbooks in one download. More information and to download C-STEM Studio. 
  • (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!


  • Looking for a paid summer science research experience this summer for high school students?  The iCLEM program offers a paid summer science experience at the Joint BioEnergy Institute to current sophomores and juniors in Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Francisco schools. The 8 selected students will complete a real-world biofuels research project in a state-of-the-art lab, prepare for the college admissions process, and explore STEM careers.  More information & to apply. Deadline: March 12, 2017.
  • (Grades 9-11) NEXGENEGIRLS Summer Science Academy: NexGeneGirls will grant six internships to qualifying SF high school girls to attend an eight week summer Science Academy program. This amazing opportunity is open to students currently in grades 9-11. Click here to learn about criteria for the selection and to apply. Deadline: March 15, 2017
  • YLC is recruiting! The Youth Leadership Corps (YLC) is a leadership program offered by Outward Bound for Bay Area high school students who want to develop leadership skills and gain service experience. Participants will begin the 1-year program with a two week backpacking expedition to the Sierra Nevadas followed by monthly student-led service projects in San Francisco. Apply here. Deadline: March 15, 2017.
  • (Grades 10 & 11) Brain Camp @ UCSF is a free, immersive, week-long experience for underserved high school students in San Francisco, led by UCSF medical students and faculty. Join us in exploring the fascinating anatomy of the brain, learning about mind-blowing advances in neurosurgery, and understanding the complex interplay between mind and behavior. You’ll learn how to suture, dissect a brain, use a reflex hammer and much more! Additionally, there will be workshops and panels on college prep as well as extensive opportunities to interact with neurology faculty and medical students. Dates: July 31-8/4. More information & to apply. Deadline: March 15, 2017
  • Full Scholarship: Students on Ice Arctic Expedition!  Climate One is offering one full scholarship for a Bay Area student to travel to the Arctic this summer with Students on Ice. This Aug. 8-23rd ship-based expedition will be a profound hands-on experience for youth to expand their knowledge of the changing circumpolar world, foster a new understanding and respect for the planet, and gain the inspiration and motivation needed to help lead us to a healthy and sustainable future. Students must attend qualifying event on March 16. For more scholarship information Contact Kelli Pennington ASAP. Climate One website is here.
  • (Grade 12) The Bio-Rad Scholarship Program assists local graduating high school students who wish to pursue careers in science or engineering. The program provides financial assistance to deserving students so they can continue their pursuit of science and engineering in higher education. Open to students attending high school within a 50 mile radius of the Bio-Rad corporate headquarters in Hercules. More information & how to apply. Deadline for submission: March 17, 2017. 
  • Grades 10 & 11: Girls Who Code Free Summer Immersion Program! Girls Who Code is the national non-profit that works to inspire, educate, and equip girls with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities. The free Summer Immersion Program consists of 7 week programs for rising junior and senior girls to learn coding and get exposure to tech jobs. More information & to apply. Deadline: March 17, 2017.
  • (Grades 8-12) 2017 B.A.T.S. Teen Career Conference – Registration now open! All Bay Area Middle & High School students are invited to join us for our annual Teen Career Conference! This event is the perfect opportunity to meet and discuss your interests in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) with undergraduate and graduate students, researchers, and STEM industry and education professionals. You'll also gain valuable insights and tips about college and career preparation. Free Registration for AM or PM session! More information & to register. Date: Saturday, March 18, 2017
  • Zero Waste Youth Awards Join the 5th Annual Zero Waste Youth Convergence! Hear from inspiring speakers, young professionals, and community leaders on hot zero waste topics. Topics and hands-on workshops and speakers will cover topics from food waste reduction to zero waste policy, including sustainable fashion, a green job panel, as well as student-led projects. More information and register here. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks provided. March 19, City College of SF.
  • (3/1, 9-12) TEEM is recruiting! Teen Environmental Education Mentorship (TEEM) is a paid environmental education internship and leadership program for San Francisco and Marin high school students. Participants discover their inner strength as environmental leaders and the importance of mentorship, diversity, community, and hands-on learning. Apply here. Deadline: March 31, 2017.
  •  (3/1, 12) Better Together STEM Scholarships of $5,000 per year: PG&E is awarding scholarships to help further the studies of local students interested in being a part of California’s clean energy future. Renewable for up to 4 years to students pursuing science, technology or engineering studies in California schools. More information & to apply. Deadline: March 31, 2017.
  • (Grades 8-12) TASC: Teen Advocates for Science Communication Cal Academy youth volunteers in the TASC Force program carry out the Academy’s mission to explore, explain, and sustain life by designing and presenting original public programs. More information and application found hereDeadline: April 2, 2017
  • Careers in Science Intern Program Cal Academy's Careers in Science paid internship program prepares and empowers youth from diverse backgrounds to enter professional STEM fields. Through hands-on trainings, field experiences, and peer and professional mentorships, interns develop essential knowledge and skills to become scientific leaders. More information and application found hereDeadline: April 2, 2017
  • (Grades 9 & 10) Greenagers San Francisco Recreation and Park Department and the Port of San Francisco sponsor this youth leadership program for students in SF East side schools. Greenagers improve our city’s green spaces & raise awareness by working in parks throughout SF, creating place-based projects, collaborating with other youth orgs, facilitating workshops, & more. Apply hereDeadline: April 29, 2017
  • Matter of Trust EcoCenter  A new Eco-Hub is opening this year. Please contact us regarding field trips and tours about Clean Air, Clean Water and Eco-Industry; celebrating greening and social justice in textile and other sectors using naturally abundant renewable resources and manmade surplus. 1566 Howard Street SF CA 94103. Check out the Matter of Trust website for more information.
  • The Stanford Horizon Scholars Program offers up to 15 low-income, high-achieving, Bay Area high school students the opportunity to attend High School Summer College at little to no cost. Horizon Scholars attend High School Summer College as commuting students. In addition to a generous financial aid package, Horizon Scholars have access to special programming during the summer and, as alumni of the program, quarterly events during the rest of the academic year. More info, list of courses (in all fields, not just STEM) and application.
  • The Witnessing Change Video Competition is a unique grassroots documentary and investigative reporting project on current climate related impacts already affecting American communities. The project asks students to explore the personal costs of climate disruption by interviewing impacted individuals and creating two-minute videos. In the process, they create local dialogues and shareable social media to improve public literacy around immediate consequences of climate change. Students will be awarded cash prizes of $500 and $250 for first and second place. For teachers who want to make the video project a class assignment, the Climate Cost Project provides interdisciplinary classroom materials. More information. Submissions due May 1, 2017.  
  • UC Berkeley Summer Program for High School Students: The Whitney Lab at UC Berkeley is offering a summer internship program for high school students. The goal of the internship program is to provide academically advanced high schoolers a hands-on research experience. Summer interns will be involved in every step of the research process, and will be working alongside Whitney lab members to create and test novel research paradigms. More information.


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 

Follow us on Twitter
Visit our SFUSD Science Website
Copyright © 2017 SFUSD Office of Curriculum & Instruction, STEM - Science Department.
 All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences