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Science Education in the News: National Survey Finds Most Parents Okay with Children's Science, Math Education

Amid urgent calls from leaders in business, government, and science to boost achievement in science and math, a Public Agenda survey of over 1,300 parents and students taken between October and January finds that parents’ concern about math and science achievement has actually declined since the mid-1990s and that most believe the amount of math and science that students receive is “just about right

While parents support proposals to make high schools globally competitive, 32% said their child’s school should be teaching more science and math, and 57% said things were fine as is. Only one quarter of the students surveyed say lack of emphasis on science and math is a problem in their own school: 4 in 10 students surveyed say they would be “quite unhappy if they ended up in a career with a math or science focus.”

Only one quarter of the students surveyed say lack of emphasis on science and math is a problem in their own school. Four in 10 students surveyed say they would be “quite unhappy if they ended up in a career with a math or science focus.”

“Despite parents' lip serve agreement that U.S. schools should be competitive, proposals to increase math and science coursework for their own kids should come as something of a surprise,” says Public Agenda. “As leaders in government, business and education move forward to address this issue, as they build a strong leadership consensus to act, they may be well advised to reach out to parents and students directly as well. Based on this research, they have one more agenda item to add to their list—helping American families understand the economic and educational challenges the country faces and involving them in strategies to find effective solutions.” Read the full survey report at http://www.publicagenda.org/research/pdfs/rc0601.pdf.

In other science education news the Ohio Board of Education voted last week to delete a science standard and correlating lesson plan that encourages students to seek evidence for and against evolution. Critics had called the material an opening to teach intelligent design. Read more http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/02/15/national/main1318728.shtml.

Finally, from 8-9 p.m. tonight, the U.S. Department of Education national broadcast series “Education News Parents Can Use" will focus on math and science literacy. Former NSTA President and current National Science Board member Joanne Vasquez will be on the panel. For more information, visit http://www.ed.gov/news/av/video/edtv.

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Nation’s Scientists Rally in Support of the Teaching of Evolution

The teaching of evolution was at the forefront of the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) last week in St. Louis. Numerous panels and sessions focused on the challenges to the teaching of evolution; public attitudes toward evolution and science; the need to involve clergy in delivering the message that religious beliefs and scientific pursuits can readily co-exist; and ways that scientists could become active to support the teaching of evolution in the nation’s public school classrooms.

AAAS used the event to deliver a statement from its Board of Directors strongly denouncing legislation and policies that would undermine the teaching of evolution and "deprive students of the education they need to be informed and productive citizens in an increasingly technological, global community."

A highlight of the meeting was a special event for K-12 science teachers "Evolution on the Front Line,” held in collaboration with more than 30 education and scientific organizations, including NSTA.To learn more, visit http://science.nsta.org/nstaexpress/nstaexpress_2006_02_21_aaas.htm.

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NSTA Members Elect 2006-07 Leadership

Congratulations to John Whitsett, a physics teacher at Fond du Lac High School in Wisconsin, who has been elected NSTA’s 2006–2007 President-Elect. John will take office on June 1, along with many others who were named to the 2006–2007 NSTA Board of Directors and Council. For a complete list, visit http://science.nsta.org/nstaexpress/nstaexpress_2006_02_21_election.htm.

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Issues in Science Education Survey

NSTA and the National Congress on Science Education meet annually to discuss issues and bring forth recommendations that are of interest to NSTA and the science education community. Please take a moment to complete our survey (http://science.nsta.org/survey_issues_in_science_ed2) in identifying the science education issues that affect you the most.

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2006 NSTA Conference PDIs Offer 4-1/2-day Structured Learning Program; NSF Again Supports 1-Day Science Assessment Research Dissemination Event

Two important sections of NSTA’s National Conference on Science Education April 6-9 in Anaheim are rapidly filling up, as registrations continue at a record pace for the world’s largest gathering of science educators.

NSTA’s Professional Development Institutes begin with a full-day ticketed workshop session on April 5, before the Conference opening, followed by an individualized three-and-a-half-day path of focused and related sessions within the Conference. Presenters are among the nation’s leading science education experts from nine wellknown organizations including BSCS, McREL, and WestED. For full information and to register, visit http://www.nsta.org/conventionsupport&record_id=123&Meeting_Code=2006ANA.

Science Assessment: Research and Practical Approaches is an encore of a one-day research dissemination conference on science assessment strategies in 3-12 grade classrooms. Presented by recognized experts who will share their NSF-funded research, the April 6 event will include plenary sessions and multiple concurrent small group breakout sessions on related topics. For speakers and session descriptions, visit http://www.nsta.org/conventionsupport&record_id=122&Meeting_Code=2006ANA. Attendance is limited, so sign up now.

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Food Handling is a Risky Business Inquiry-Based UMass Online Course Starts March 6

The University of Massachusetts (UMass) Extension Nutrition Education Program's food safety online course module designed for science teachers in grades 6-12 is being offered in Spring 2006, with Food Handling is a Risky Business, from March 6-April 9. The course is designed to demonstrate inquiry-based learning, increase laboratory skills, share food science and safety ideas with peers worldwide, and develop meaningful student projects that meet National Science Education Standards. The next module, Current Controversies in Food Science, begins April 10. For more information on this and the other modules, and to register, visit http://www.foodsafetyfirst.org.

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And Don't Forget... 

  • During the month of February, you can purchase the online book special—Stepping Up to Science and Math at 30% off list price when you buy online. To browse the book and to order, visit http://www.nsta.org/onlinespecial.
  • Hurry! Advance registration deadline for NSTA's National Conference on Science Education, April 6-9 in Anaheim is Friday, March 10. Register now and save up to 10% off your conference registration at https://ecommerce.nsta.org/2006ANA.

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Professional development courses in your future?
Online options give you a world of choice.
Take a look at these institutions offering courses for science educators!

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