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Week of September 26, 2011

Table of Contents


Sally Ride Science

Legislative Update: President Obama Announces NCLB Waivers

Lots of activity on No Child Left Behind—the President has announced NCLB waivers to states, and the U.S. House of Representatives has approved the first of several bills to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). On the other side of the Capitol, Senate Republicans have introduced four bills that outline their ideas to “fix NCLB.” Read these stories and more in this issue of the NSTA Legislative Update.

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20 States Take the Lead to Develop Next Generation Science Standards

Twenty states have been named to lead the development of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that will define the content and practices all students will need to learn from kindergarten through high school. The states are Arizona, California, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

In a process managed by Achieve, the states will provide leadership to a team of writers—many of them K–12 educators—to develop the standards. Drafts of the science standards will be made available for public input at least two times during the development process, with completion slated for the end of 2012.

The standards will be built on A Framework for K–12 Science Education, released by the National Research Council in July. The Framework identifies core ideas and practices in natural sciences and engineering and was developed with input from the science education community.

For more information on the states and the standards-development process, go to www.nextgenscience.org. Also visit NSTA’s web page www.nsta.org/ngss for information, updates, and resources on the standards and framework.

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Recruiting for Proposals for the STEM Forum & Expo, Atlantic City, NJ, May 17–19, 2012

Teachers and administrators versed in STEM are encouraged to submit proposals appropriate for workshops and seminars at the first NSTA STEM Forum & Expo. For details and information on the process, visit www.nsta.org/stemforum.

The STEM Forum & Expo will bring together nationally renowned STEM experts and practitioners and hands-on educators interested in learning about successful approaches and implementation of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics education into our schools and districts. STEM best practices, content, and integration processes are critical aspects for creating well-trained elementary and middle school educators who will need to radically increase student literacy in these STEM subjects. Put this event on your 2012 calendar.

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Quality Afterschool Programs Support STEM Learning

A new report released last week by the Afterschool Alliance shows that high quality afterschool STEM programs play an important role in STEM learning and can open doors to STEM for underrepresented students.

The authors of STEM Learning in Afterschool: An Analysis of Impact and Outcomes analyzed evaluation studies gathered from afterschool programs offering STEM all over the country and identified common trends and outcomes in these programs. They found that in addition to improving access to STEM fields for a diverse group of learners, high-quality afterschool STEM programs are yielding STEM-specific benefits in three broad categories: improved attitudes toward STEM fields and careers; increased STEM knowledge and skills; and increased likelihood of graduation and pursuing a STEM career.

A number of afterschool STEM programs are profiled in the report, which is available online (PDF).

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NSTA Express Poll: Climate Change Education

NSTA supports environmental education, including climate science, climate change, and the nature of its impacts, as a way to instill environmental literacy in students. Student knowledge of environmental concepts establishes a foundation for their future understandings and actions as citizens.

Although most scientists agree that climate change is occurring (Global Warming’s Six Americas in May 2011, Yale Project on Climate Change Communication), whether or not global warming/climate change results from human activities is a controversial issue that has been rigorously debated in public forums and in the media.

Has this debate reached our classrooms? Tell us what you think, take the NSTA Express poll and tell us about how global climate change is taught in your school.

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Lab Out Loud Returns to the Podwaves

In Episode 65, “Framing a New Vision For Science Education,” hosts Brian Bartel and Dale Basler kick off their 2011–2012 season by talking science standards with Jonathan Osborne from Stanford University. As a  committee member who helped draft the Conceptual  Framework for New Science Education Standards released this summer, Osborne talks to us about science practices, crosscutting concepts and core ideas found  within the framework.

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Superior Teaching and Learning at Conference on Science Education, Hartford

Professional development is not a luxury in this age of employment uncertainty. Teachers need to hone their skills, build their classroom techniques, and learn new strategies that help students succeed. NSTA offers the best PD for science educators across the nation. In Hartford, Connecticut, Oct. 27–29, our Conference on Science Education has scheduled more than 400 sessions, workshops, presentations, and programs for teachers in every science discipline and at every stage in their career. Check out some of the planned sessions:

  • Chemistry Day, Biology Day, Engineering Day, and Physics Day
  • Building Tomorrow’s Workforce—Integrating science, math, engineering, and technology, 8 a.m.–12 noon, fee-based. (Grades 4–9)
  • Leveling the Playing Field in STEM (Elem, Informal)
  • Teaching for Conceptual Change—Page Keeley, Richard Konicek (Elem–College)
  • Facilitating Early Childhood Education with Project Learning Tree—Effective hands-on activities to introduce science concepts to young children using PLT's curriculum. (PreK–Middle)
  • Solids, Liquids, and Gases: The Kinetic-Molecular Theory of Matter (Middle)
  • Using Data to Solve "Earth Science Puzzles" (Middle–High School)
  • Your Source of Energy: Exploring the Fuels That Power Your State (Middle–High)
  • Cross-Pollination: Using Science to Develop Similar Skills in Reading and Mathematics
  • Green Your School! Integrating Science with Service Learning—Learn how teachers and students can link science content with service learning to identify and research environmental science issues, explore solutions, and implement change. (Elem–High)
  • Helping High School Students Write Their Own Scientific Experiments
  • Drop the Lecture and Let the Students Pick Up the Learning in Environmental Science—Learn to use a game of chance to simulate island biogeography, an "Olympic" committee to judge water quality, and a biogeochemical cycle group challenge to demonstrate environmental science. (High)
  • Special PD Program just for Connecticut Science Teachers, Sat. Oct. 29 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.—A session on NSTA’s Learning Center and it’s many resources used to build content knowledge will be explored; plus a session on 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning led by author Page Keeley. Both sessions will tie Connecticut science standards to the subject matter. Visit www.nsta.org/pdfs/2011PDC.pdf to register.
  • Science Matters Community Event—8:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m. Saturday, for parents, teachers and students. Enjoy hands-on K–6 activities sponsored by organizations and institutions such as Hooked on Science, the Connecticut Science Museum, the National Institute of Aeronautics, and more. Free admission, onsite registration.

Don’t forget networking activities, socials, field trips, and the Exhibit Hall. Bring an extra tote for all the giveaways. Visit www.nsta.org/hartford for more details and to register.

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NSTA Has Professional Development Down to a Science

Science educators who need and want professional development know where to find it. NSTA’s Conference on Science Education, New Orleans, offers the best hands-on workshops, symposia, seminars, and presentations led by experts from across the nation. Science educators of all disciplines and in every grade band, administrators, and college methods professors can choose from more than 400 options.  Build content knowledge, learn strategies for STEM integration, discover techniques to reach ELLs, hear about the Framework for new standards, and more. Sample some of our plans:

  • Ted Danson, actor, activist, and author of Oceana: Our Planet’s Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them. Danson will kick off the conference as keynote.
  • Cool Computer Activities for Science and Social Studies, by Tammy Worcester (Instructional Technology Specialist).
  • A Different Look at an Old Model: Modeling the Spectrum (Middle–High)
  • Oobleck, Slime, and Dancing Spaghetti: Using Children's Literature to Enhance Your Science Curriculum (Preschool–Elem)
  • Fudge Chemistry—Learn skills such as measurement and conversions, data collection and analysis using a graphing calculator, and matter identification along with its properties. (High)
  • Climate Change Classroom Toolkit (General)
  • Nano-Size Me: Helping Students Understand Size-dependent Properties (High)
  • A Framework and Tools to Make Tough Grades 3–5 Science Topics Approachable (Elem/Supervision)
  • Seashell Taxonomy: A Venomous Topic—Staff from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute explore concepts such as evolution, phylogeny, and DNA fingerprinting. Take home a free DVD and activity kit. (Middle–College)
  • Full-day programs in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Engineering
  • Field trips to Hermann-Grima/Gallier Historic Houses: Adventures in Archaeology for Educators, LIGO Science Education Center, Wetland Watchers Park.

Share your passion for science education. Join us and thousands of teachers who will be ready to learn and teach with improved skills and some new-found inspiration. Visit www.nsta.org/neworleans to register early and save. Sept. 23 is the earlybird deadline.

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