Teachers’ Lounge

Archive for August, 2011

Brokers of Expertise

by michelle on Aug. 31st, 2011 No Comments

The Academy’s teacher resources are now available via an exciting interactive online education resource, Brokers of Expertise.

Brokers of ExpertiseBrokers of Expertise (BoE) features easily searchable teaching resources, professional development opportunities, and an online community of teaching professionals.

BoE groups bring educators together, providing a space to gather, share resources, and engage in dialog around topics of interest. In addition, BoE features a growing library of professional development modules for educators.

BoE is a place to:

    SF Green School Alliance
  • access collections of high-quality, standards-matched classroom resources
  • collaborate with peers in online professional learning communities
  • share your own teaching resources and lessons
  • find models of exemplary teaching practices
  • access online professional development modules from local, regional, and statewide sources

The goal of BoE is to give teachers access to high-quality resources, tools, and materials needed to improve instruction and close the achievement gap in California schools. BoE features thousands of digital educational materials from sources including the California Academy of Sciences. Educators can collaborate and share resources with their peers and groups. Browse or search through all of the BoE resources by type, grade level, subject, and even by the California Academic Content Standards they support.

You can search online for resources or participate in discussions as a guest. But for more bells and whistles, register for an account and then join the Academy’s group or one of other many groups active on the site. We hope to see you there!

Meet Sid the Science Kid!

by megan on Aug. 26th, 2011 No Comments

Sid the Science Kid

Sunday, September 18th, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Celebrate a day of discovery with KQED’s Sid the Science Kid! Sid will explore the museum, seek answers to his science questions, and greet visitors. Bring a camera and a curious spirit and join us for special programs and activities for children of all ages!

• Meet Sid the Science Kid!

• Be a scientist-in-training and perform hands-on-experiments at the Little Learner’s Lab (ages 3-5).

• Make a “Science Kid Field Kit” at Family Nature Crafts. Decorate your kit and receive a mini notebook, pencil and magnifying glass to take home (ages 4-8). Limited quantities available.

• Observe, examine and investigate! Test your knowledge with the Mystery Boxes or play Naturalist Center Bingo for a prize!

• Explore the natural world with Science Story Adventures, featuring experiments, games and crafts (ages 4-8).

• Visit the Early Explorers Cove and Academy Coloring Tables to participate in a self-guided activity and Sid coloring project (ages 0-5).

• Play Sid the Science Kid video games and view full-length episodes in the Naturalist Center, including Where Did The Water Go?, Clean Air, Reused Robot and Save The Stump.

• Have a question? Look for an Academy Docent in an orange lab coat – they have answers and specimens to share!

• Conduct a citizen science experiment at home and contribute to Academy research. Pick up an ant kit and spider data sheet at the Naturalist Center. Learn more »

Homeschool Day October 18, 2011

by michelle on Aug. 18th, 2011 5 Comments

Homeschool Day Feb 2, 2011HOMESCHOOL DAY

Tuesday, October 18, 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 $6.95 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 Thursday, September 29, 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 October 17, 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 877.227.3311. 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
EarthThe 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 caregivers, guests can learn through active participation in several themed areas. Imagine what it was like to be a scientist on the child-sized model of the research schooner Academy, shop in our mini farmers market and explore the hidden burrows in the faux California backyard. For ages 5 and under.


Discover with Docents
Level 1, Throughout the Day
Docents are amazing!Be 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 3:00 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? Get to know our famed African penguin colony. Aquarium biologists field visitor questions as they feed and care for the birds.

Specimen Spotlight
11:30 am and 1:30pm 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
12:30 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.

Sharks and Rays
1:30 pm at the Coral Reef Lagoon
Coral Reef LagoonSharks and rays are some of the most compelling and misunderstood animals on the planet. Meet the biologists of the Steinhart Aquarium who care for these surprising creatures and discover some of the fact behind the fiction.

Live Birds of Prey
2:00 pm in the East Garden, weather 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.

Crafts in the Gallery
10:00 am – 12:00 pm outside Early Explorers Cove
Crafts!Young scientists, and those with an urge to build, will enjoy these science-themed crafts.

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.

Chew, Bite, Chomp! Mystery Mammal Skulls
Level 3, Classroom, 10:45 am – 11:45 am
SkullWhat’s the difference between an herbivore, carnivore, and omnivore? To find out, we’ll start by carrying out some delicious experiments to figure out what your incisors, canines, and molars are used for! Then, students will have the opportunity to get a hands-on, close-up look (and feel!) of the teeth from a selection of local animal skulls, applying their newfound knowledge to classify these mammals by what they eat. For ages 9-13. $7.95/person.

Ocean Shells
Level 3, Classroom, 1:15 pm – 2:15 pm
Ocean ShellsAre you ready to dig in the sand? Travel back in time to observe how California Coast mollusk populations have changed over time! This program will give students an opportunity to study some of the Academy’s collections while making predictions, conducting a survey of a hypothetical coastline, and analyzing their results. Parent participation is encouraged for younger learners. For ages 7-10. $7.95/person.

California Geology
Level 3, Education Lab, 10:30 am – 11:45 am or 12:45 pm – 2:00 pm
Geology LabChoose to enroll your budding geologist in either of these repeated sessions! Students will start by carefully observing, describing, and sorting a group of unidentified rock samples, and then learn the differences between the three major classifications of rocks: sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic. The class will be introduced to ten local rock types and leave with an understanding of some of the basics of California geology! For ages 6-8. $9.95/person.

Live Invert Inquiry
Level 3, Education Lab, 2:45 pm – 3:45 pm
TermiteIn this activity, students will be directly challenged with the process of scientific inquiry as they explore some mysterious animal behavior. Working with living invertebrates, students will safely manipulate the environment of their test subjects to determine how factors affect their behavior. Can you solve the puzzle by designing tests, documenting data, and communicating your ideas to others? For ages 9+. $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.

Are there Mobile Apps to help enhance our experience?
Head over to our Mobile Apps page where you can download one of our three Academy mobile apps: Pocket Penguins, Academy Insider, and the Golden Gate Park Field Guide.

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.

Here is a handy list of sample activities:

Troubled Tree Frogs Scavenger HuntReady-to-go Worksheets

» Insect Anatomy Hunt
» Surrounded by Rocks and Minerals
» Our Chart of Body Parts
» Living Fossils Scavenger Hunt
» Troubled Tree Frogs Scavenger Hunt

 Anytime Lessons

» Marine Invertebrate Anatomy
» How Big is Big?
» Rock Cycle Roundabout
» Google Earth Geology Field Trip
» Go Bug!

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 Ocean Shells program for younger learners, 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 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 30 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.

Growing Greener Schools

by michelle on Aug. 4th, 2011 No Comments

Engaging our Grounds

International Green Schoolyard Conference
September 16-18, 2011
San Francisco Bay Area

SF Green School AllianceThe green schoolyard movement is growing rapidly and flourishing around the world. Schools near and far are reimagining their grounds, replacing their extensive paved surfaces with a vibrant mosaic of outdoor learning and play opportunities.

Schools in many different countries are leaders in this field, finding innovative ways to weave curricula into their landscapes, diversify their recreational offerings, enhance their local ecology, and reflect their unique location and cultural context.

Come to the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area to join the SF Green Schoolyard Alliance, New Village Press/ADPSR, and Bay Tree Design, Inc. for the first International Green Schoolyard Conference held in the United States, September 16-18, 2011.

Participate in this exciting conference to hear about cutting edge schoolyards and school gardens, meet like-minded colleagues from the United States and abroad, share ideas, tour fantastic local school grounds, and get inspired to bring these ideas back to your own community.

Invited visionary leaders of the school ground movement from Canada, England, Germany, Japan, and Sweden will share their experiences, case studies, and best practices. Speakers will include:

  • Dr. Petter Åkerblom, Movium & Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Uppsala, Sweden)
  • Cam Collyer, Evergreen (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
  • Manfred Dietzen, Grün macht Schule (Berlin, Germany)
  • Mary Jackson and Julie Mountain, Learning through Landscapes (Winchester, England)
  • Dr. Ko Senda, Environment Design Institute (Tokyo, Japan)
  • Bernard Spiegal, Playlink (London, England)
  • Birgit Teichmann, Teichmann Landschafts Architekten (Berlin, Germany)

During the conference’s schoolyard tours, we will visit four schoolyards in San Francisco that have each undergone a dramatic change over the last decade to transform their traditional, paved, urban schoolyard into a vibrant outdoor learning and play space. We will also visit three inspiring sites in Berkeley including the Edible Schoolyard, the City of Berkeley’s Adventure Playground, and an elementary school with a green schoolyard created by the school community.

Sign up now to take advantage of early enrollment pricing! Please support this event by helping us to spread the word far and wide. We hope you can make it!

For more information, please visit the conference website at: www.greenschoolyards.org

Organizations co-hosting this conference: