Teachers’ Lounge

Archive for December, 2010

Apply for the Teacher Institute on Science and Sustainability

by michelle on Dec. 16th, 2010 2 Comments

The Teacher Institute on Science and Sustainability (TISS) is now accepting applications!

carbon cycle imagesInspire your students to become active stewards of the environment and make science more relevant and engaging for your students! The institute focuses on energy, green buildings, food, water, and waste and supports teachers to address the California science standards through these sustainability themes.

TISS is an intensive two year professional development opportunity for 3rd – 5th teachers in the Bay Area. The program begins in July and consists of 2 two-week long summer sessions, continuing professional development, and classroom support from Academy educators during the school year.

If that isn’t enough reason to apply, TISS teachers also receive an annual $2000 stipend, a membership to the Academy, a class set of science journals, and more.

Download the application to the Institute, or to learn more, please visit the TISS website or email TISS@calacademy.org.

What’s your New Year’s resolution?

by michelle on Dec. 13th, 2010 No Comments

As you may know, the California Academy of Sciences offers professional development opportunities to energize your science teaching! What you may not know is that between now and January 15th, you can register for teacher workshops and BioForum for only $15! That’s half off!

Peruse our workshop offerings, then register by heading over to www.calacademy.org/teachers/tickets and enter the promotional code TEACHER, or call 800.794.7576.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of our Spring Semester offerings:
Philippine Coral Reef image by Tim Griffith
January 18:  Photosynthesis
January 22:  Rainforest (grades 4-8)
January 25:  Dissect a Fish (grades 6-12)
January 29:  Coral Reef
February 1:  Owl Pellets
February 5:  Evolution
February 10:  Astronomy
February 12:  Geology
February 17:  Climate Change
February 26:  Rainforest (grades K-3)
March 1:  Dissect a Fish (grades 3-5)
March 12:  Organic, Local, and Delicious
March 15:  Skulls
March 17:  Ants
March 19:  BioForum: California Coast
March 24:  Waste Worries
April 9:  Energy Issues

Explore the Carbon Cycle in 3 Languages!

by megan on Dec. 7th, 2010 No Comments

carbon cycle imagesI’d like to highlight our popular carbon cycle curriculum unit, which includes three complementary activities to engage students with one today’s most pressing scientific issues – climate change. 

To help you tackle this intimidating subject, we’re created a kinesthetic role-playing activity that reinforces the cycling of carbon in the environment.  Surprisingly enough, this content can be addressed as early as elementary school.

As you may have guessed from the heading, all lesson plans, student worksheets, and visual aids associated with this carbon cycle unit are now available in English, Spanish, and Chinese! 

What do you remember about the carbon cycle? Take this quiz as a refresher. Find the answer to each question in the matching lesson – in your language of choice!

Which of the below items contains carbon?

  1. seashell    
  2. pencil       
  3. cup of water         
  4. piece of wood

What Contains Carbon? 
¿Qué contiene carbono?

In a carbon cycle skit, who might say:

“I am giving carbon to marine snails to help build their shells.”

  1. algae        
  2. water        
  3. atmosphere          
  4. caterpillars

Carbon Cycle Roleplay  
Un Juego de Rol del Ciclo del Carbono

When humans create cement for dams, through which part(s) of the Earth does carbon directly cycle?

  1. biosphere 
  2. lithosphere           
  3. atmosphere          
  4. hydrosphere

Carbon Cycle Poster  
Cartel del Ciclo del Carbono

So, how did you do? ^_^

Be sure to share other great resources that you have used to teach this topic!

Homeschool Day: February 2, 2011!

by michelle on Dec. 1st, 2010 5 Comments

Homeschool Day CraftsHOMESCHOOL DAY

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

9:30 am – 5:00 pm
Join us on this special day of presentations, demonstrations, and hands-on programs, when we invite homeschooling families to explore the Academy at reduced admission prices.

Download and print the FAQ and Registration Guide, which includes everything you need for planning your experience and reserving a spot for your family.


San Francisco Homeschool Families
Two adults may attend with their children (ages 4-17) for free.

Homeschool Families from outside San Francisco
Two adults may attend with their children (ages 4-17) for only $4.95 per person.

Free Admission for Infants and Toddlers
Children ages 0-3 are free, but please include them in your reservation so that we may monitor attendance.

Additional Chaperones
Reservations for additional adult chaperones may be made at general admission prices ($29.95 for adults; $24.95 for college students and seniors).

Reserved Programs
Although most Homeschool Day events are drop-in and covered in the price of admission, our reserved programs involve pre-registration due to capacity limits. These instructor-led classes involve a participation fee to cover the cost of materials. Fees are per participant, whether child or adult.


Individual families may register beginning Wednesday, January 12, 2011.

Pre-registration is required for all attending family members for general admission and any reserved programs. Walk-ups will not be admitted at these discounted rates, but we will continue to register interested families through February 1, 2011.

Print-at-home tickets will be issued to you by email, and your confirmation will list any reserved programs. Bring these printouts with you on the day of the event to gain admittance.

Fill out the Registration Guide with key information before placing your call to the Contact Center at 800.794.7576. Registration is not available online or via email.


Take your time exploring our exhibits. Note special hours for the following:

Rainforests of the World
Level 1, 10:00 am – 4:30 pm
Morpho butterflyExperience what it’s like to walk in a living rainforest. Our dome contains 1,600 live animals, including 600 free-flying birds and butterflies, 100 exotic reptiles, and amphibians. You’ll descend in an elevator to the Amazonian flooded forest on the Lower Level.

Morrison Planetarium: Life: A Cosmic Story
Level 1, 10:30 am – 4:30 pm on the half hour
Journey to the StarsThe Academy’s new planetarium show is a high-speed ride through the history of life. Come explore the age-old mystery: How did life on Earth begin? Passes are handed out on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit the kiosk at the Planetarium entrance to select your show time. For ages 7+. Ages 3 and under not permitted.

Naturalist Center
Level 3, 10 am – 5 pm
Naturalist CenterWith books, specimens, and online access, this space is a great place to learn more about the natural world with one-on-one help from Academy naturalists. Visitors with shared interests can sit and chat; Academy Members have the privilege of checking out books, DVDs, and curriculum guides. Scavenger hunts available upon request.

Early Explorers Cove
Level 1, 10 am – 5 pm
Early Explorers CoveIn this space reserved for toddlers and their parents, kids experiment and interact with displays, including a California backyard garden and an Academy schooner. For focused learning with your child, check out a Nature in your Noodle Box. For ages 5 and under.

Sanctuary in the Sea: A Gulf of the Farallones Experience
Level 2, 10:00 am – 4:30 pm
AlbatrossDiscover the beauty, diversity and history of the gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, a haven for sea birds, seals, and white sharks. Witness this fragile ecosystem’s transformation from exploited hunting ground to protected sanctuary in this short film. Check in at the exhibit on Level 2 for access. Appropriate for all ages.


Discover with Docents
Level 1, Throughout the Day
DocentBe on the lookout for enthusiastic, knowledgeable docents in orange lab coats. Investigate specimens up-close, watch a volcano explode, build an ice-cold comet, or meet a live animal ambassador. Docents stationed on the floor are ready for your questions, and some are set to host impromptu tours. You’ll find most docents on Level 1; visit others at the hands-on Discovery Tidepool on the Lower Level.

Penguin Feeding
10:30 am and 3:30 pm in African Hall
PenguinDid you know that 17 species of penguins exist on the globe, and most do not inhabit Antarctica? Where are our penguins from? Meet Pierre, Ocio, and the rest of the African penguin colony. Aquarium biologists field visitor questions as they feed and care for the birds.

Specimen Spotlight
11:30 am, 1:30pm, 3:30pm in the Naturalist Center
SpecimenLearn about a different Naturalist Center specimen in each of these focus talks. Note that seating is limited. Recommended for ages 6+.

Coral Reef Dives
11:30 am and 2:30 pm at the Philippine Coral Reef
DiverTalk with a diver who descends into the exhibit to introduce you to the world’s deepest living coral reef exhibit. What question will you ask? Bring along a Coral Reef Color Wheel, or try your hand at some Fish Family Identification.

California Spotlight
12:00 pm in Climate Change
GrizzlyThroughout history, California has been home to some of the most unique landscapes and amazing wildlife found in North America. Join us for a special look at some of the animals that are from this land, including the grizzly, the mountain lion, and the condor.

Swamp Talk
1:00 pm at the Swamp
swampLearn about some of the Academy’s most popular animals. You’ll find out what it takes to care for the albino alligator and the alligator snapping turtles, which are native to swamps in the southeastern United States. By the way, how did we get the turtles into the exhibit?

Coral Reef Discovery
1:30 pm at the Philippine Coral Reef
Coral Reef FishLearn about the Academy’s Philippine Coral Reef tank, the world’s deepest exhibit of living coral. An exhibit expert will introduce you to the unique fish and corals and answer all of your reef-related questions.

Live Birds of Prey
2:00 pm, conditions permitting
Raptor ShowResidents of this outside enclosure include a Barn Owl, a Swainson’s Hawk, and a Turkey Vulture. Get a peek at these magnificent raptors, and watch a biologist providing care. Check kiosk for presentation location.

Go on a Scavenger Hunt
Naturalist Center
Naturalist CenterA limited amount of printed worksheets will be available here, so we recommend printing your favorite from home. Complete your quest while touring the exhibits, then pick up a prize from the Naturalist Center!


These programs involve pre-registration due to room capacity. All of the courses taking place in the Classroom and Education Lab are hands-on activities designed for both individual and group learning.

Registration is subject to availability. Any associated fees are per participant and due upon registration. Because seating is limited, parents may not audit classes — if you’d like to participate, please register for yourself as well.

Build a Coral Polyp, for the little ones
Level 3, Classroom, 10:30 am – 11:30 am
CoralIs coral a plant or an animal? Come to this workshop to find out. By building a coral polyp out of edible materials straight from the kitchen cupboard, students will learn the basic body parts of this marine organism, as well as better remember how it survives in the ocean. Everyone will have the opportunity to investigate real coral skeletons from diverse species before trying to spot the living ones in our Coral Reef Exhibit. For ages 5-7. $7.95/person.

Sustainable Fishing
Level 3, Classroom, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
fishPlay the role of a captain of a fishing fleet in this engaging exercise modeling seasonal fishing cycles. Participants will learn that unsustainable fishing practices risk the depletion and extinction of fish populations. The class will brainstorm ways to protect coral reefs and fish for future generations, becoming part of the solution. For ages 7+. $7.95/person.

Build a Coral Polyp, for the bigger kids
Level 3, Classroom, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
CoralIs coral a plant or an animal? Come to this workshop to find out. By building a coral polyp out of edible materials straight from the kitchen cupboard, students will learn the basic body parts of this marine organism, as well as better remember how it survives in the ocean. Everyone will have the opportunity to investigate real coral skeletons from diverse species before trying to spot the living ones in our Coral Reef Exhibit. For ages 10+. $7.95/person.

Family Shark Dissection
Level 3, Education Lab, 10:30 am – 12:00 pm or 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Spiny DogfishAfter learning about the natural history of the spiny dogfish shark, your team will explore the internal and external anatomy of this ever-popular specimen. Academy educators will guide you through the dissection, highlighting how shark morphology showcases the unique abilities of these fish. Leave this class with a great appreciation for shark anatomy, ecology, and conservation! Adult participation is highly encouraged.For ages 7+. $11.95/person.

Family Squid Dissection
Level 3, Education Lab, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
SquidIf you’ve never cut up a squid before, you’ll be glad to take the plunge. Come see why this charming cephalopod has become a model organism for introducing students to dissection. We’ll study the inside and outside of these marine creatures, linking the physical body parts to their function. Your kids will love to get slimy and inky! Adult participation is highly encouraged. For ages 5+. $7.95/person.


What time should we arrive at the museum?
Families can arrive at their convenience; drop-in programs are scheduled throughout the day! However, if you have scheduled a reserved program, please check in for your program on the Level 3 balcony next to the Naturalist Center 10 minutes prior to your program.

Is parking available at the Academy?
The Music Concourse Parking Facility is a public lot that often fills to capacity early in the day, and tickets cannot be validated by the Academy. However, free street parking is available in Golden Gate Park. Note that many spaces are limited to 3-4 hours. An adult can certainly leave the building to move the family car — just remember to receive a hand stamp at the Guest Services desk for re-entry. Map and Directions >>

What if we bring more people than originally stated on our reservation?
If you arrive with more people in your group than indicated by your reservation, you will be asked to pay the full admission price for these individuals at the door.

What should we do for lunch?
You may carry your own bag lunch or purchase food from the Academy Café. No food or drink is allowed on the exhibit floor, but tables are provided in the West Garden and the East Garden.

What other services might be helpful to know about?
Wheel-chairs are available at the Coat Check for those in need. For lost children or first aid, please go to the Security Office located near the Swamp or flag down the closest security guard in the exhibits. Restrooms are available on all levels next to the staircase/elevator leading to the Living Roof, as well as in the basement-level Aquarium. A spacious family restroom is located on the main floor near the Swamp.

How should our family prepare for the museum? Where can we find scavenger hunts?
pencilsThe Academy website features information on our exhibits and the scientific disciplines explored by our researchers. We highly encourage homeschool families to check out our lesson plan database full of activities fit for the museum and the home. Extreme Life Scavenger HuntHere is a handy list of sample activities:

Ready-to-go Worksheets

» Insect Anatomy Hunt
» Troubled Tree Frogs Scavenger Hunt
» African Safari Cards
» Predator-Prey Hunt
» Extreme Life Hunt
» Tracking Turtles and Tortoises
» Lemurs and the Like
» Animal Adaptations Hunt
» Our Chart of Body Parts
» Colorful Coral Reef
» Ocean Life Opposites

Galapagos Tortoises Hunt
 Worksheets accompanying Lessons

» Marine Invertebrate Anatomy
» My Expedition to Africa
» Mystery Mammals
» Polygon Poetry
» Prove Me Wrong
» Evolution and the Galapagos Tortoise
» Mapping Mockingbirds
» Threatened Biodiversity
» Comparative Physiology of Invertebrates
» Fish Family Identification

How do I register with my child to attend one of the reserved programs?
Tell us the program name and the number of family members that you would like to register. You can register a child for more than one program, assuming age-appropriateness. Adult attendance is highly encouraged for the Family Dissections, and optional for all other hands-on programs.

What are the expectations for adult participation?
If you choose to register for a program with your children, we expect you to be an active participant. You’ll get to use all of the materials, too! Attendance is encouraged for programs designed for younger students; alternatively, you may check your child in for a Classroom or Education Lab program and return when it ends.

Where are the Classroom and Education Lab located? When do we meet?
Line up on the Level 3 balcony next to the Naturalist Center, and don’t forget to bring your Confirmation Letter as proof of registration. Please arrive 10 minutes early for check in.

My child is advanced for his/her age. Can I sign him/her up for a program designed for older students?
Please follow the suggested age ranges listed when registering your children, understanding that the makeup of the class may be 35 students and adults of various ages. We’ll learn together!

Can you accommodate children with special needs?
The nature of these programs complements a variety of learning styles and abilities. We encourage you to indicate any special needs, whether physical or academic, upon registration. Don’t hesitate to indicate how best to accommodate the student(s). Wheel chair seating is available in the Planetarium, too.

How do we get passes for the Life: A Cosmic Story Planetarium show?
Passes are handed out on a first-come first-served basis. Visit the kiosk at the Planetarium entrance to select your show time.

Is there an age limit to attend a show in the Planetarium?
Yes. Please note that the Planetarium shows take place in a darkened environment, with imagery and sounds that some children may find disorienting. For these reasons, we strongly discourage entry for children under the age of seven. Children 3 and under are not permitted.

We hope you can join us! Don’t hesitate to leave comments and questions for us below.