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Week of March 26, 2012

Table of Contents


Delta Education

Clean Tech Competition Announces 2011–2012 Grand Prize Winning Teams and Finalists

Congratulations to the grand prize winning teams and finalists in the first-ever Clean Tech Competition, presented by Applied Materials. The competition, a collaborative student design contest developed to inspire the next generation of leaders and innovators in the field of clean technology, immerses high school students in real-world challenges that illustrate the powerful potential of clean technology to address problems that confront humanity.

The competition involved students, ages 13–18, from two global centers of innovation, the San Francisco Bay Area in California, and Xi’an, China. This year’s challenge posed to students was “Solar Solutions to the Rescue.” Teams of students, under the guidance of their teacher or other adult team leader, designed a solar-powered solution to a basic human need identified in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Participants identified a situation, explored the issue and then presented their clean tech solution to a panel of industry and education experts for judging. One grand prize winning team, two second place teams, three third place teams and four finalists were then selected from each region.

Project entries submitted by student teams ranged from a tracking system to locate victims swept away by a tsunami or flood to a light-weight, chemically-active filtration mask that utilizes solar and battery power to reduce the risk of developing respiratory problems from overexposure to volcanic ash. Other projects included a solar-powered reverse osmosis water supply system and an emergency communication station that can direct search and rescue teams to a trapped person’s precise location after an earthquake.

To learn more about the program, click here.

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Elementary Teachers: Share Your Lessons for a New NSTA Press Book

To support K–5 teachers making the challenging transition to the new Framework for K–12 Science Education and the forthcoming Next Generation Science Standards, the Science Teachers Association of New York State and NSTA Press are developing a new book tentatively titled Science Literacy & Our Nation’s Future. The book will provide a blueprint for elementary teachers to plan ahead for aligning their instruction with the spirit and principles of the new Framework. A key section of the book will feature lesson plans from outstanding educators—please consider submitting your lessons for this project!  Visit the book project website to learn more and submit your online application by April 16, 2012. Authors of selected applications will be invited to develop full lessons for inclusion in the new book.  We look forward to hearing from you!

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Nomination Deadline April 1 for Presidential Teaching Award

Do you know a K–6 teacher who provides excellent mathematics or science instruction to his or her students? Then please consider nominating him or her for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) program. Anyone—teachers, principals, parents, students or members of the general public—may nominate a K–6 teacher by completing the nomination form (www.paemst.org) by April 1.

Presidential Awardees receive a certificate signed by the President of the United States, a trip for two to Washington, DC, to attend a series of recognition events, professional development opportunities, and policy-maker meetings, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.

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Forum on Integrating STEM into the K–8 Classroom

You’re invited to attend the STEM Forum to be held in Atlantic City, New Jersey, May 17–19. Five strands will provide organization for attendees’ sessions. Intended primarily for educators K–8 and administrators, our focus will be on the integration of STEM programs into our classrooms and how to building more literate students in the four disciplines—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Keynote speaker Kenneth Wesson, an educational consultant in neuroscience, will present The STEM Hologram: Several Disciplines: One Interdependent Picture. Mary Ellen Weber, a veteran NASA astronaut will present “To Boldly Go: The Unbounded Opportunities in Science and Math. “ There is a Family STEM Night planned, a Roundtable Task Force of educators and business leaders leading a discussion, and an early evening preview (May 16) of the Exhibit Hall, kicking off the Forum. Join us.

Check out some of our STEM sessions:

  • Authoring Science Case Studies Using a Wiki (Middle Level–College)
  • STEM Education: Preparing for and Opening a STEM Academy (General)
  • Claremont Robotics Competition: A K–12/Higher Education Partnership—Teams of elementary and secondary students work with college undergraduate and graduate students to learn and apply STEM skills while building robots.
  • STEM Education: Courses of Study to Promote Student Success in School and Beyond (Administrators)
  • Scalable STEM Activities for Grades 3–9—Activities that promote scientific thinking and engineering principles while providing a focused learning context.
  • Preparing the Next Generation of Math and Science Teachers (Grades 3–5)
  • Mad About STEM—STEM activities and embedded coaching were the pedagogical approach used to simultaneously provide an after-school program for students and professional learning for teachers. (Middle Level)
  • STEM Today, Degree Tomorrow—Explore the engineering design process through this inquiry-based program.(Grades 6–9)
  • An Engineering and Technology Twist on the Egg Drop Activity—This activity incorporates Problem-Based Learning, engineering, technology, and collaboration. (Grades 6–9)

Visit www.nsta.org/stemforum for more information or to register.

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Weathering the Storm: School Administrators Survey on School Funding and the Recession

A report issued by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) on the impact of the economic downturn on schools shows continued layoffs, reductions in class size and other cost cutting measures ahead for FY2013 as schools and states continue to grapple with the recession.

The report Weathering the Storm How the Economic Recession Continues to Impact School Districts is based on a survey of school administrators conducted in February 2012. A total of 528 school administrators from 48 states completed the survey.

Key highlights from the study:

  • More than half of states (29) are reporting shortfalls totaling $44 billion for FY13.
  • School districts across the nation continue to report a breadth and depth of budget cuts reaching across the 2010–11, 2011–12 and 2012–13 school years. More than three quarters (81.4 percent) of districts described their district as inadequately funded, down slightly from 84 percent in Dec. 2010 and 83 percent in April 2010.
  • Stop-gap efforts to avoid/minimize job cuts were short-lived and reductions in force will continue to be a reality in the near future.
  • More than one-third (40.3 percent) increased class size in 2010–11, compared to 54 percent in 2011–12 and 57.2 percent who anticipate doing so in 2012–13.
  • Roughly one-third (30.7 percent) eliminated/delayed instructional improvement initiatives in 2010–11, compared to 40 percent in 2011–12 and the 48.3 percent who anticipate doing so in 2012–13.

The report also notes the current school year represents the last year state and local operating budgets will include American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and Emergency Education Jobs Act (EduJobs) fund, noting “The cessation of these emergency funds represent funding cliffs for local budgets,” and queries administrators on their view of the impending 2013 across-the-board cuts within the federal budget, known as sequestration.

“The endurance of the recession has shifted the response from tightening budgets and implementing moderate changes to implementing increasingly significant changes, including a marked increase in cuts to areas that more directly impact student achievement. The continued and increasing budget cuts threaten the capacity of schools to deliver essential services and threaten the gains schools have made in student achievement and narrowing the achievement gap. Considered in total, the economic recession has exacted a heavy toll on schools, communities, families, and learning. By the time school districts and communities are once again operating under pre-recession budget levels, it will mean more than six consecutive years of budget cuts, an unmatched fiscal reality whose impact has yet to be fully realized.”

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Meet the 2012 Intel Science Talent Search Winners

Congratulations to the 2012 Intel Science Talent Search winners, announced recently during ceremonies in Washington, DC, where they were awarded over $ 1.25 million in awards and scholarships.

This year 1,800 American high school seniors conducted original research and submitted their work to the prestigious competition. Former Science Talent Search finalists have achieved some of the world’s most prestigious academic honors—11 have won MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grants, six have won the National Medal of Science or the National Medal of Technology, and seven have won the Nobel Prize.

Read more about the program and this year’s extraordinary winners.

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