Contra Costa County Office of Education

            December 2013 

STEAM Masthead
Featured Sections
Teacher Opportunities and Professional Development
Classroom Resources
Teacher Awards and Grants
Student Opportunities
Choose Civility
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STEAM News and Events 



Join us on February 7, 2014 for the 4th annual SF Bay Area STEAM Colloquium: Full STEAM Ahead: at the Corner of Common Core and STEAM.


This engaging day includes featured speakers, resource and showcase fair, and breakout sessions focused on integrating STEAM with Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.


The STEAM Colloquium will be held from 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., at the San Ramon Valley Conference Center, in San Ramon. The early bird registration ( fee is $50 per person or $40 per person in teams of three (pre-registered at same time). Early bird registration ends on December 20.


Be sure to follow STEAM Colloquium updates on its Web page and Twitter #steamcolloq. For more information or questions, please contact Hilary Dito at (925) 942-3396. 

Next Generation Science Standards

Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, K-12 learning progressions for middle grades 6-8

On November 6, the California State Board of Education (SBE) approved the proposed integrated model (pages 20-21, NGSS Appendix K) as the preferred model for middle grades science instruction.

The Science Expert Panel [(a group of 27 teachers, scientists, educators, business and industry representatives, and informal science educators)] will reconvene to develop an alternative discipline specific model based upon the domain specific model that is outlined by Achieve in the NGSS Appendix K (pages 22 -23).


Follow California's Department of Education updates by joining the NGSS electronic mailing list. Send a blank email to this address

Contra Costa County Office of Education presents Common Core State Standards Professional Development Program - How to Connect Math and Literacy

Join 2012 California Teacher of the Year, Alex Kajitani in a full-day math professional development experience in which teachers will explore, discuss, practice and reflect upon high-leverage strategies that are easy to implement, and will get students on the path toward achieving the Common Core Math Standards.


This program will be held on February 6, from 8:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m., at the Contra Costa County Office of EducationRegister via Eventbrite.

Teacher Opportunities and Professional Development

Chabot Space and Science Centers FEAST Series: The Life Sciences - What is this thing called life?

Join local science teachers at Chabot Space & Science Center (Chem/Physics Lab) on Saturday, December 7, from 9 a.m. to noon, and explore this "Thing Called Life."


There's a long list of topics that can fall under the life science umbrella. Have you taught lessons about anatomy or physiology, aquatic or terrestrial life forms or perhaps past life in the form of fossils or how about extremophiles? Would exploring the methods and theories of biochemistry or biophysics be considered life science? Examine your science curriculum and you'll probably find a lot of connections to this "Thing Called Life". As always, we encourage everyone to seize the opportunity to share an activity or two around this topic but don't stop there... how about inviting a colleague who has a great idea to share? 


Add to the excitement of these FEAST (Fun Exchanges and Activities for Science Teachers) sessions and the model of teachers teaching teachers. These sessions are free. Please RSVP to Stan Fukunaga by sending a message with your name, school/city, grade level and/or subject taught, and email address.

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific is Offering Two Educator Workshops:

Build Your Own Telescope! Using the Galileoscope to Teach Light and Optics in the Classroom
Learn about how telescopes work and how to use the Galileoscope in your classroom. Through hands-on activities in light and optics, workshop participants will learn about the behavior of light and build their own Galileoscope, modeled on the telescope Galileo used to observe mountains on the Moon, the moons of Jupiter, the phases of Venus, and more! Each teacher participant will receive a set of Galileoscopes for use in their classroom. Space is limited so register early!

This workshop is for 3rd-9th grade teachers. The program will take place on January 11, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at the College of San Mateo Science Building, San Mateo.


Mission: Mars, Exploring Mars with Pascal Lee, a workshop to help bring the excitement of Mars exploration into the classroom   

Guided by renowned Mars expert Pascal Lee and educators from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and the SETI Institute, workshop participants will get a look at what it will take to send humans to the Red Planet. They will discover how to gear up for survival, navigate a spaceship, search for alien life, and so much more. Participants will also get a sneak peek at the latest designs for future Mars ships, spacesuits, and exploration rovers. The future of space exploration starts now!

This workshop targets 3rd-8th grade teachers. The program will take place on January 25, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at the SETI Institute, Mountain View.

Cost for each workshop is $30; for more information and to register, visit their website.   
California Academy of Sciences' Spring Workshops

Explore many facets of science through teacher professional development at the Academy! Dive into science content, explore scientific practices, engage in effective teaching pedagogy, and develop a sense of how science really works. Each workshop includes relevant science activities, thoughtful discussions, and the opportunity to connect with other educators. 


For more information and to register, visit the educator's page on their website

University of California Curriculum Integration (UCCI) 
The UCCI program is offering two spring institutes: Information and Communication Technologies for English and Math Integration and Engineering and Architecture with Math or Laboratory Science.

Participants will develop curriculum that integrates academic subjects with Career Technical Education (CTE) pathways. 


The institute will be held on April 10-13, at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco. Applications are now available.

Not on the Test: The Pleasures and Uses of Mathematics

The Mathematical Science Research Institute (MSRI) and Berkeley City College (BCC) are co-presenting a free public lecture series. Sponsored by the Simons Foundation, this series is dedicated to engaging the public with speakers who use math in their daily work and have a passion for its beauty.


All lectures will be held 7:00-8:15 p.m., at the Berkeley City College Auditorium, Berkeley:


February 12 - Ge Wang: Music, Computing, People

March 3 - Eugenie Scott: Science Denialism

April 9 - Krishna Shenoy: Brain-Computer Interfaces


For more information and to RSVP, visit their website

Classroom Resources  
Hour of Code

Join's challenge to promote computer science education for all students by participating in an Hour of Code. The initiative asks schools, teachers, and parents across the county to help introduce students of all ages to computer programing during Computer Science Education Week, December 9-15. For resources, tutorials, and information visit their website.


The Hour of Code is a self-guided activity that every student, in every classroom, can do. A variety of hour-long tutorials will be available for students to try out the basics of computer science. is organizing a massive campaign to get 10 million students of all ages to participate in the Hour of Code this December. For more information and to register click here. 

Stanford University's Understand Language (UL)


Stanford University's UL initiative has launched a set of open-source mathematics materials designed for teachers of English Language Learners. Materials cover different grade spans and include resources to support mathematics learning and language development. View their website for more information. 

Teacher Awards and Grants

Making Education Relevant and Interactive through Technology (MERIT) 

MERIT applications are now available. Hosted at the Krause Center for Innovation at Foothill College, participants will engage in opportunities to integrate innovative technology tools to enhance student learning. Teachers can earn a stipend after completing the summer institute. For more information and to apply, visit their website. 
Student Opportunities
Contra Costa County Science and Engineering Fair

The Contra Costa County 2014 Science and Engineering Fair will be held March 20-22, at Los Medanos Collegein Pittsburg.


The CCCSEF Organizing committee is also recruiting for judges and members for the Scientific Review Committee. If you are interested, you may go to the Contra Costa Science Fair websitePlease mark your calendar today for 2014's Science Fair judging day. 

It Takes a Community! Education Summit

Students in 7-12th grades are invited to It Takes a Community! Education Summit. This FREE event for first-generation, African American, Latino, Asian American, Native American, and Pacific Islander students, and their families, will include workshops on STEM careers, preparing for college, financial aid, and more. The Summit will be held on Saturday, March 8, from 8:30 a.m. -1:00 p.m. at California State University East Bay, Hayward


Attendees can register on their website. Applications for bus scholarships are due by January 17.

"Compose Yourself" with San Francisco Contemporary Music Players

San Francisco Contemporary Music Players (SFCMP) announces a new education program, a youth competition called "Compose Yourself," for high school composers and their peers.

Visit their website for full details and application form. The entry must be an original composition, 5-8 minutes in length, for flexible instrumentation or chorus for 3-10 musicians or voices. Applications must include a personal statement, and may include a letter of recommendation from an educator. The deadline is January 15. 
The 2014 Brain Bee
San Francisco Bay Area high school students are invited to participate in the 2014 Brain Bee, an exciting, challenging, and fun-filled event, happening at two separate locations. These Brain Bees are local qualifying rounds of the International Brain Bee (IBB), a neuroscience competition exclusively for high school students ages 14-18. The Brain Bee involves both a written component and a live oral Q&A session. In addition to the competition, students will have the opportunity to attend a presentation by a neuroscientist and speak with Stanford and Cal State professors and students from the medical, biosciences, and neuroscience fields.


No previous neuroscience knowledge required! Contestants should study the 2012 edition of Brain Facts, a 96-page primer available for free at this websiteAnswers to ALL test questions can be found in this booklet, with the exception of questions that are reserved for tiebreakers. Registration closes on December 21.


Stanford Brain Bee: Saturday, January 18, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., at Stanford UniversityFor more info about the Stanford Brain Bee click here. 


East Bay Brain Bee: Sunday, January 19, start time is 10 a.m. at Cal State East BayFor more info about the Cal State East Bay Brain Bee click here. 

MATHCOUNTS Math Video Challenge

MATHCOUNTS Math Video Challenge (formerly known as the Reel Math Challenge) is an innovative program involving teams of students using technology to create videos about math problems and their real-world application. Students can create math videos with their friends and classmates, win prizes, and improve their 21st century skills such as communication, creativity, and collaboration. Learn more at this website. 

Camp H

Camp H (formerly known as Studio G), a design/build camp for girls, is now registering 5th-8th grade girls for the spring camp. This eight-week after-school program will run from January to March, with the theme, "I can fix anything!"

Each week, girls will learn how to use hand and power tools, basic electrical equipment, and automotive instruments to fix the things that need repair, installation, and maintenance in our everyday lives. Coupled with core-subject math and science concepts, participants will tinker, experiment, build, and repair. Each week girls will take on a different repair task so that they become confident to tackle everyday problems at home, at school, and out in the world.

All courses will be held at REALM Charter Middle School, 2023 8th Street, Berkeley. The eight-week sessions will be held on the following dates:
Tuesdays, January 28 - March 17, 3:30- 5:30 p.m.

Wednesdays, January 29 - March 18, 3:30-5:30 p.m. 

Tuition is $275 for the eight-week program. Please email Emily Pilloton, camp director, for a full- or partial-scholarship application form.

Choose Civility 
Accept and Give Praise

The Choose Civility Principle for December


"I can live for two months on a good compliment."

-Mark Twain


Accepting and giving praise has many benefits and can be a powerful relationship builder with family, friends and co-workers. Many people however, are uncomfortable with praise and compliments. We can learn to embrace positive feedback and accept compliments graciously by giving thoughtful and sincere compliments to others. According to P.M. Forni, a compliment is a gift, one we are expected to acknowledge with the simple courtesy of a firm and heartfelt, "Thank you." Forni goes on to write that the inclination to express sincere praise continues to be a most captivating character trait of civility. *


Following are helpful guidelines for delivering praise.**

  1. Be genuinely appreciative. Every person on your team is doing part of your job for you. While it is important to recognize the true home runs of performance, don't forget those who plug along solidly everyday who are committed to doing a good job.
  2. Deliver praise from your heart. Your appreciation of their efforts must be evident in your facial expression, your tone of voice, and how you phrase your praise. You want your employees to know that the job they perform well is important to you, to your team, to your department, your organization.
  3. Deliver praise as soon as possible. Don't wait until the quarterly (or annual) formal performance management discussion to mention something an employee did months ago. By continually observing performance, you can offer timely expressions of acknowledgement and appreciation. Genuine praise helps people feel good about themselves and even more committed to doing a good job.
  4. Make praise specific by describing the exact behavior or skill along with your expression of appreciation. "Nice work, Jim" is much less motivating than describing specific examples of what was done. Specific praise assures employees that you are truly paying close attention to what they do and how they do it.
  5. Praise people publicly. Acknowledging people in public accomplishes two important things. The employees feel even better as they are recognized in front of their peers. In addition, public praise is one way of reminding other employees of what you want from them.

It can take only seconds to deliver; yet the impact of consistent genuine, appropriate praise can be immediate and long term.


Action Step:
One of the best ways to become comfortable giving and receiving praise is to practice. Today, select five people to acknowledge with sincere praise.


*Excerpt from P.M. Forni's book, Choosing Civility.
**Source: Center for Management & Organization Effectiveness


Excerpt from P.M. Forni's book, Choosing Civility


About CCCOE's Monthly Focus

Choosing Civility, by Dr. P.M. Forni, lists 25 rules of considerate conduct. Over this school year, the CCCOE will consider ten of these principles. For additional information about our Choose Civility initiative, please visit our website.

The CCCOE STEAM enews is published regularly, highlighting news, events, and resources that enhance STEAM education for all students. If you received the STEAM enews from a colleague, please join our mailing list to continue receiving updates. This publication does not signify that the Contra Costa County Office of Education endorses the event or program mentioned.


For more information regarding CCCOE STEAM, please visit our website.



Hilary Haugen Dito
CCCOE STEAM Coordinator




Associate Superintendent, Pamela Comfort, Ed.D.



STEAM Coordinator, Hilary Haugen Dito



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