VCSTEAMN Colloquium # 3 on SEARCH


The VCSTEAMN Colloquium # 3 on SEARCH was a great success. Mike Vollmert, our Director of Technology, pinch hit for Keynote speaker Andrew Schwab who was ill, and used Andrew’s presentation to set the stage for an excellent evening. We examined SEARCH as a 21st century Literacy, we learned some new Google SEARCH skills, and then we collaborated on a scavenger hunt to find the answers to some SEARCH Challenges. Educators from across the county were in attendance and we thank all for being there. VCSTEAMN is an emerging entity that we hope grows far beyond the Rio School District to offer educators, community and business partners opportunities to establish Ventura County as a premiere location for STEAM education and employment.

STEAM is the integration and connections between Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.

VCSTEAMN Colloquium# 3 “SEARCH”


Keynote Speaker: Andrew Schwab, CTO, Berryessa Union School District

VCSTEAMN search colloquium flier

Andrew Schwab is an educator, IT professional and 1:1 evangelist. As a member of the CUE Board of Directors, a CETPA Certified CTO and a Google Certified Teacher, he is active in supporting and growing the edTech community. Andrew can be found on Twitter @anotherschwab and blogging at

Andrew’s Presentation

During the presentation, I mentioned Dan Russell’s challenge – determining the phone number of the office from which a picture was taken. Here’s the story of that challenge, including a link to how it can be done!



Google Basic Searching Quick Reference

Google Power Search Quick Reference

Google Search Features (Improve your search experience)

Take the Google Power Search Course (an online, community-based course showcasing search techniques and how you can use them to solve real, everyday problems!)


Session tools / Instructions

After our keynote talk, we will divide into five groups, each organized around one of the five STEAM areas (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics).  Each group will get four search challenges, each related to a different type of search (Power Search, Scholar Search, Image Search, Archive Search).  Do the searches in order – the challenge is for each group to complete as many of the searches as possible, and record on the results document both what they found and how they found it!  Good luck!


Colloquium Challenges – Click here for access to the search questions!

Challenge Results – Click here to access the challenge results page (shared Google Doc!)

River Project Meeting # 2 4.29.13


This week we held a second great meeting on the developing River Project. Lynn R. from the Watershed Coalition of Ventura County was our guest partner and Mike Vollmert, our Director of Technology and fellow science and learning enthusiast were in attendance. Once again, I learned alot and it was a great and connected conversation.

The Watershed Coalition of Ventura County (WCVC) developed in 2002 and then grew again in 2006 and they connect people working on the Santa Clara, Ventura, and Calleguas watersheds.

Prop 50 and later prop 84 provided tax payer monies to work on our local water systems. The work is an Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) and they plan and do projects that affect: environment, recreation, flood protection, water supply, and water management.

We talked about a project, the natural flood plains project and also Army Core of Engineers work on feasibility studies.

I learned about two BIG ISSUES people are working on; Salt in the water and Invasive species of plants.

I learned that the Nature Conservancy has funded projects, as well as UCSB folks from the Marine Science institute to try to remove invasive plants such as arundo donax, a reed/plant from Spain that made its way here and has the habit of choking out other native plants and drinking too much water.

Mike Vollmert updated Lynn and I on a Rio project we have partnering with the US Fish and Wildlife group to restore some areas of our campuses to native plants. I look forward to that project moving forward.

I also learned that our local group was honored by the local American Public works chapter for its environmental projects. I learned that we have a great history of coming together here to solve problems and to see each others perspectives in order to find solutions that work for everyone and the community. 

I learned that or farmers in the area are voluntarily studying the salt in the water problem and that they have a long history of being good citizens of our community.

I look forward to starting some river walks and river talks and getting students and teachers engaged in learning about and from the river and all the many established networks of citizens and organizations that are deeply connected to the Santa Clara watershed…

I know that there is much more that I don’t know about the River than what I do know and I would guess this is true for many people so I hope the River Project can be a contribution our local schools make to not only educating our youth but also educating our community.

River Project Meeting # 1 4.26.13

On Friday, 4.26.13 we had our first meeting/talk with partners on our developing River project. It was great to meet and talk with Mike and Janis who are two local citizens who have been active in the community for years and who work on environmental issues related to water. I learned alot from the meeting. We also had local educator Linda B. at the meeting who I have worked with over the years as she has done great work in science education including work on the foxes of the channel islands.

Jeff Turner, our assistant superintendent was also in attendance and he revealed that he is exploring the Santa Clara river in the Fillmore area as well as doing a river restoration project with his family on property they have in Idaho.

We talked a little bit about the Freeman Diversion project in Saticoy.

I also learned that the Santa Clara River has carried vast amounts of minerals from the mountains to our plain making our farmlands some of the richest in the world. Good soils make good farms.

I learned a little about our underground water source, the Fox Canyon Aquifer.

I learned that local farmers use alot of the river water to grow our crops.

I learned that here in the Oxnard area we use about 50% river water/aquiferwater and 50% state water for our various uses

I talked about using the River project to allow and encourage our students to become learners, teachers, and stewards as they next generation of water managers.

I also learned that the Santa Clara River brings the sands to the sea and that this watershed system is part of the Santa Barbara Channel system.

No sand.. no surf.. so probably surfers have an interest in this system.

I learned that we have rich history of working well together, farmers, citizens, governments and this inspires me to see how we can do the same in our educational systems.

I learned that water law in California incorporates two major themes; 1st time use and best use. I love the law and how language and words help guide our human endeavors through a lens of justice and fairness.

I thank all who attended and I can’t wait until teachers and students get a chance to walk on the river and talk with these deeply committed and deeply interesting  people about the most amazing literal and metaphoric topic I can think of… that also happens to be the namesake of our school District;    Rio     the River.

Materials Colloquium coming May 29, 2013

Materials Colloquium links   

VCSTEAMN (Ventura County Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math Network)

Materials Science and Engineering

Materials Science… Chemistry for Life

Materials Science and Engineering

Strange Matter

Materials Classroom

Materials Videos, Games, Simulations and more

Top 100 Materials Scientists

Materials Science Fair Projects

Tensile Test Experiments

Virtual Museum of Minerals and Molecules

The Future of Materials Science

Materials and Technology

Common Molecules

Materials, Technology, and Sports

Smart Materials

Wild Materials

Materials and Art

Extraordinary Art from Ordinary Objects

Understanding Materials in Primary Art Teaching


Ventura County
Science Technology  ngineering Arts Mathematics
                    VCSTEAMN Aims


           The VCSTEAMN intends to do the following:

To develop partnerships and community among educators, scientists, technology specialists, artists, engineers, and mathematicians and those interested in these fields aimed at furthering educational opportunities and achievement for learners of all ages.

To host quarterly forums on STEAM topics.

To conduct educational workshops.

To foster and facilitate professional learning communities and mentorships.

To foster and facilitate collaborative projects.

To conduct research on STEAM related activities.

To foster and generate STEAM related funding and grants.

To connect STEAM related activities to the Common Core Standards and 21st Century Learning

To provide web- based access to STEAM related resources and communications.

The Rio Indigenous Project

The Rio Indigenous Project

is a new collaboration, engaging the staff and partners of the Rio School District and the Mixteco community in a learning and development process with three basic aims;

these are the three legs of the stool;

Develop a website that enables learning centered on Mixteco culture, knowledge, life. 

Build enduring and productive relationships. 

Support actions, initiatives, policies and ways of doing and being that support the Mixteco and all indigenous communities.

The River Project is a long term initiative engaging the Rio School District and multiple partners focused on collaborations among students, educators, and experts in a variety of fields to map, document, and come to know the River in our backyard (the District’s name sake) the Santa Clara River.

We envision an initiating process in which students, teachers, and experts take walking trips at local sites on the River and begin to map, document, video, and know the river in its many aspects including; environmental, scientific, historical, governmental, economic, social, cultural, and artistic.

The project has its seeds in developing discussions with the Nature Conservancy, the City of Oxnard, and a variety of other interested groups and individuals.

We see the river as a physical location, a metaphor, and fountain of educational opportunities for students, teachers and the community at large. Combining walks, talks, and video we imagine a mapping and digital documenting process that draws learners together of all ages to know the river from its mouth at the sea through its path in Ventura County.

We invite all interested partners to join us on this river journey. Please email us at