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Week of September 14, 2009

Table of Contents

Schools Receiving Stimulus Funds Still Facing Budget Cuts

Many thousands of teachers and other school workers have been laid off in dozens of states because of plummeting state and local revenue. Many were hired back, thanks in part to $100 billion in federal stimulus money. How much the federal money has succeeded in stabilizing schools depends on the state. In those where budget deficits have been manageable, stimulus money largely replaced plunging taxpayer revenues for schools. But in Arizona, California, Georgia, and a dozen other states with overwhelming deficits, the federal money has failed to prevent the most extensive school layoffs in several decades, experts said.

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Walt Disney Company and NSTA Announce Nationwide Launch of Disney's Planet Challenge

Disney Challenge logoLast week the Walt Disney Company, in collaboration with the National Science Teachers Association, announced the nationwide launch of Disney’s Planet Challenge, a project-based environmental competition for fourth through sixth grade classrooms. The cross-curricular program empowers classrooms to make a difference in their homes, schools, and communities and prompts students to think and act responsibly toward the environment while fostering teamwork, problem solving skills, and lifetime love for learning.

Registration for the competition closes December 18, 2009. Registered teams then have until February 26, 2010 to complete their project portfolios.

The grand prize–winning classroom will win a three-day trip to the Disneyland® Resort May 6–8, 2010, a chance to meet a Disney Channel star, and the class and its winning project may be featured on the Disney Channel. Up to 55 classrooms will win additional prizes, including $1,000-2,500 grants, Disney DVDs, student eco-friendly prize packs and more. Prizes from NSTA include a one-year membership to the teacher/coach of each winning team, and an expense-paid trip to NSTA’s 2011 National Conference on Science Education in San Francisco for the grand prize–winning teacher/coach where he or she will be recognized at a special banquet and awards ceremony.

For more information about Disney’s Planet Challenge or to register for the competition, visit www.Disney.com/planetchallenge.

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Report on the State of K–12 Engineering Education in the U.S.

On Tuesday, September 8, 2009, The National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council released a new report calling for improvements and expansion of K–12 Engineering Education. The report indicates that K–12 engineering education has the potential to improve student learning and achievement in science and mathematics, increase awareness about what engineers do and of engineering as a potential career, and boost students’ technological literacy. The report also examines the current status of engineering education in the United States and the nature of efforts being taken to teach engineering in U.S. schools.

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Earybird Deadline Sept. 18 Offers Real Savings to Science Educators Attending Area Conference in Minneapolis

Thousands of science educators, administrators, and preservice teachers will take advantage of professional development this fall in Minneapolis, Oct. 29-31 at NSTA’s Conference on Science Education. Workshops, presentations, and sessions are scheduled for building content knowledge, improving assessment strategies, learning inquiry techniques and more. Special day long programs are devoted to the disciplines-biology, physics, chemistry, and physical science. Even the field trips are both educational and fun. Register by Sept. 18 to get the earlybird rate. Here are a few of the specifics to consider:

  • Climate Change: Classroom Tools to Explore the Past, Present, and Future—With hands-on and data-rich classroom activities. Handouts. (Middle School, Informal)
  • Density Driven! The Relationship of Density to the Oceans and the Atmosphere—(Elementary through High School)
  • Science Assessment Through a Mixed Curriculum-Grades 4–9—Short Course (ticketed) Participants receive a complete packet on a CD to encourage further research.
  • EDVOTEK Biotechnology: Biotechnology on a Budget—Bring DNA, genetics, and biotechnology to life in your classroom with genetics games, DNA extraction, spooling, and DNA electrophoresis using fluorescent dyes. (Grades 6–College)
  • Alternative Assessments in the Chemistry Classroom (High School)
  • Inquiry Instruction in High School Chemistry and Its Effect on Students' Proportional Reasoning Ability (Middle–College/Supervision)
  • No Child Left Inside (Elementary)
  • Ecological Footprints (Elementary–Middle School)
  • Field Trip: The Raptor Center: Face-to-Beak with Nature’s Aerial Predators (ticketed)
  • Featured Speaker: Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

And this is just the beginning of three energy-building days. Visit www.nsta.org/minneapolis to get more information and to register.

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To Get the Most Out of ExploraVision, Learn the Ropes Beforehand

For teachers who are considering participating in the K–12 ExploraVision competition, join our web seminar on Sept. 16 at 6:30 pm for details. The competition offers student teams of all interest, skill and ability levels to create and explore a vision of future technology by combining their imaginations with the tools of science. Winning teams led by teacher/coaches are awarded a total of $240,000 in savings bonds each year. To participate in the web seminar, register here. Past competition teacher/coaches will lead the discussion, answer questions and inspire you to take part. For more information on the Exploravision competition visit www.exploravision.org.

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From the NSTA Calendar: Adopt-a-Physicist Program

This free program pairs high school physics classes with physics degree holders in online discussion forums for a three-week period (October 12–30). Through these forums, students can connect to "real" physicists working in fields ranging from radiation therapy to computer programming. They can talk freely about careers, school, work, and family balance.

The Adopt-a-Physicist program is open to all high school physics classes, but registration is limited. Apply by September 23 at www.adoptaphysicist.org.

Visit the NSTA Calendar for more interesting things to do.

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MSSE Graduates Its Eleventh Class

Montana State University’s Master of Science in Science Education (MSSE) program recently celebrated its eleventh graduating class with the Annual Symposium in Science Education. Sixty-five science educators from across the nation presented their capstone projects on the MSU campus in Bozeman, MT completing requirements for their MSSE degrees.

The MSSE program, a blend of science content and pedagogy, is specially designed for science educators. In addition to completing a group of core courses (12 credits total), program candidates develop interdisciplinary combinations of graduate science courses from offerings in biology, chemistry, Earth science, microbiology, plant sciences, physics, and other related areas.  Programs of study are designed to incorporate the candidate’s background, interests, and career goals.

Special Program Features:

  • The opportunity to work at home without frequent trips to campus
  • Over 80% of the courses may be taken on-line
  • Continue employment while earning a degree
  • On-campus summer experiences in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem that vary in length from one to four weeks
  • Personalized science education capstone project for each candidate
  • Large selection of science content courses through partnership with MSU’s National Teachers Enhancement Network (NTEN) www.scienceteacher.org
  • Interdisciplinary – intercollege program

Visit the MSSE website at www.montana.edu/msse for more information on the program and its courses.  NSTA members receive a discount on many of the science courses.

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Visit the NSTA Science Store for an outstanding array of bestselling books and teaching resources. Receive 30% off the price of the September featured book, Using Forensics: Wildlife Crime Scene!.


Click on the logo above for more information and to register for these free professional development opportunities.

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

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