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CCSSO Releases Science and Math Education Indicators

More students nationwide are taking higher-level science courses, but the number of certified high school science teachers is down, says a new report from the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). State Indicators of Science and Mathematics Education 2003, CCSSO’s biennial report for its members, policymakers, and other educators interested in the state of K-12 science and math education, tracks state data on student achievement in math and science, trends in math and science course enrollments, and teacher qualifications and compares the 2002 data to earlier studies.  Find out how your state’s K-12 science education compares with that of other states at http://www.ccsso.org/Projects (click on Science and Math Education Indicators). To read highlights from the report, go to http://science.nsta.org/nstaexpress/nstaexpress_2004_05_17_extra.htm.

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Science Still a “Second Tier” Subject, Say College Deans and New Elementary Teachers Polled by Bayer Corp.

Science is still considered less important than reading, writing, and math in many elementary classrooms--and in many teacher preparation programs--says a new poll of 1,250 elementary educators and education deans commissioned by the Bayer Corporation as part of its ten-year science literacy outreach program, Making Science Make Sense.

The Bayer survey found that much less emphasis is given to science in general teaching methods courses, and most new teachers and education deans rated their science preparation programs far lower than those for the other disciplines. Science is cited as the subject most new teachers wish had received more emphasis during their pre-service training, and one in three new teachers say they rely more on what they learned in high school science courses than what they learned in college to teach science. Deans and teachers surveyed said “elementary teacher education programs should require their undergraduates to take more coursework both in science itself and in science teaching methods.”

A large majority of college deans surveyed say the National Science Education Standards have had a major impact on their programs, and 94 percent have reviewed and changed their K-5 science teaching preparation program in the last four years. In the classroom, however, only 35 percent of the teachers polled say they teach science every day, and 29 percent report they teach science twice a week or less. Only 61 percent of the elementary teachers reported they felt “very qualified” to teach science.

To view the complete report, titled Bayer Facts of Science Education X: Are the Nation’s Colleges and Universities Adequately Preparing Elementary Schoolteachers of Tomorrow To Teach Science?, access http://www.BayerUS.com/MSMS.

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NASA Announces 2004 Explorer Schools; Science and Math Teachers Named Educator Astronauts

NASA recently named 50 schools to participate in the 2004 Explorer Schools program, part of a major education effort to inspire the next generation of explorers. Sponsored by NASA's Education Enterprise in collaboration with NSTA, the Explorer Schools Program establishes a three-year partnership between NASA and the 50 Explorer School teams.

The Explorer Schools program, launched in June 2003, sends science and math teachers to NASA centers during the summer to acquire new resources and technology tools for grades 4-9. The program uses NASA's unique content, experts, and resources to make learning science, mathematics, and technology more appealing to students. Among the program’s many activities, NASA education specialists and scientists provide investigation opportunities and professional development programs. The teams of teachers and education administrators represent many diverse communities.

For more information, including a list of the 2004 Explorer Schools, go to http://explorerschools.nasa.gov/portal/site/nes/. The online application for next year’s program will be available beginning on September 15, 2004.

NASA also announced the 2004 class of astronaut candidates, which includes three science and math teachers. The teachers will serve as mission specialist-educator astronauts and will help carry out NASA’s education mission. Teachers chosen include Joe Acaba, a science and math teacher at Dunnellon Middle School in Florida; Ricky Arnold, a math and science teacher at the American International School of Bucharest, Romania; and Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, a science teacher at Hudson's Bay High School in Vancouver, Washington. For more information about the educator astronaut program or for a list of astronaut candidates, visit http://www.nasa.gov/vision/space/preparingtravel/ascan2004.html.

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Winning Students Find Innovative Solutions to Everyday Problems in the Craftsman/NSTA Young Inventors Awards Program

In a quest to develop innovative solutions to everyday problems, more than 9,000 students submitted invention ideas in the 2004 Craftsman/NSTA Young Inventors Awards Program, and 36 have been named winners.

Every year, the program invites students in grades 2-8 to invent a new tool or rethink an existing one. The program aims to teach students the scientific principles of how tools operate, introduce them to working with hand tools, encourage them to think creatively about the world around them, and enable them to develop practical solutions to everyday problems. The program is sponsored by Sears through its Craftsman™ tools brand and NSTA.

Twelve third-place and 12 second-place winners each will receive $250 and $500 U.S. Savings Bonds respectively. Twelve national finalists will receive $5,000 savings bonds, as well as a trip for themselves, their parents, and their teachers to the national awards ceremony in Chicago in September. At the ceremony, two top winners will be named and awarded additional $5,000 bonds. For more information about the Craftsman/NSTA Young Inventors Awards Program and to see a list of winning inventions, go to http://www.nsta.org/programs/craftsman.

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Act Fast For Free CD-ROM or PDF of Three Evolution Reports from National Academy of Sciences

The National Academy of Sciences and the National Academies Press are disseminating to science teachers free CD-ROMS and PDF files of three reports on evolution. Just visit http://nap.edu/hawaii and complete a questionnaire, and you will receive a free PDF file or CD-ROM of Evolution in Hawaii: A Supplement to Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science (2004); Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science (1998); and Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences, 2nd ed. (1999).

Once you complete the questionnaire, you can choose to download a PDF of all three publications immediately or to request that a CD-ROM be sent to you (no shipping and handling fees will be charged). The questionnaire will help the National Academies Press and the National Academies' Center for Education learn more about teachers’ needs and product preferences. A limited number of free copies are available, so act fast.

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NSTA Releases Draft Position Statement on Science Teacher Preparation; Member Feedback Sought

NSTA members are encouraged to read and comment on a draft NSTA position statement on Science Teacher Preparation. The statement was developed by a committee of science education professionals and was recently approved by the NSTA Board of Directors. Before the draft position statement is officially adopted, NSTA first seeks input from its members. To view it and submit comments, go to http://www.nsta.org/main/forum/showthread.php?t=1127. Deadline for comments is May 31, 2004.

To view all of the NSTA position statements, including those on Environmental Science, The Teaching of Evolution, and Assessment, go to http://www.nsta.org/position.

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Get Together with NSTA This Fall! Plan Now for Indianapolis, Seattle, Richmond Conventions; Registration Open

Career Center

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Hope you found this Monday’s edition of NSTA Express an interesting, quick read and a worthwhile update on the latest news and information from the National Science Teachers Association. Our goal is to save you time by delivering information each week in short "news bites," so if you'd like to know more, simply select the headline quick link. NSTA continues to create resources and improve services for science educators. If you're not already a member, we invite you to join the crowd by going to www.nsta.org/whyjoin

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