NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter December 2009

Here are your science education resources and announcements for December 2009 provided by the Science Matters Network. Please forward them on to other science educators in your school and/or school district.

Table of Contents

National PTA, DLA Piper Distribute Groundbreaking Guide on State Laws on Family Engagement

National PTA and DLA Piper LLP, an international law firm, recently released a guide that will help families, policymakers and child advocates develop and monitor family engagement legislation in their states. The 271-page State Laws on Family Engagement in Education Reference Guide provides a comprehensive, up-to-date survey of family engagement legislation in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

This guide serves policymakers and child advocates monitoring the implementation of the law with a better understanding of state family engagement legislation by providing detailed analysis, noteworthy statutes, policy recommendations, and the essential components of systemic state family engagement laws. This information will help PTA members advocate for broader reform by supplying them the tools to create legislation that supports policies and practices that meaningfully engage families in improving student achievement.

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Science Education Programs and Resources

Join President Obama's Nationwide Science Education Initiative—National Lab Day

Middle and high school teachers, do you need help with your science fair, lesson development, or someone to chaperone a field trip? What about advice on an after-school program or access to cool lab equipment? Wouldn’t it be great to have a scientist or engineer share their work experiences with students in your classroom? You can join in and make it happen through National Lab Day (NLD). Visit the NLD website to learn more, sign up and submit your "project needs." Local community volunteers (university students, scientists, engineers, STEM professionals and other educators) who are participating in your NLD hub, are eager to respond. Check out "project requests" submitted by teachers who are already involved.

Butterflies in Space

Last month, Painted Lady butterflies flew aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis to the International Space Station. The butterflies will spend several months in space as part of an exciting experiment to observe their life cycles and behaviors in microgravity. Classes are invited to participate by registering for updates about the mission. Teachers can download a free Teacher's Guide and engage students in concurrent activities with their own butterflies. Photos and videos will be transmitted back to Earth and made available online.

Where the Wild Things Are Activity Guide

National Wildlife Federation has teamed up with the film "Where The Wild Things Are" to launch a national campaign to get kids outside. The "Where the Wild Things Are" Activity Guide will help teachers explore the film's themes, with activities designed for grades 2–5 and extensions for younger and older students. These activities meet national standards for English/Language Arts, Science, Social Studies and Visual Arts.

Design Squad Teacher's Guide

PBS's Design Squad goes to school with a new Teacher’s Guide. Developed for middle school science and technology teachers, the guide blends hands-on engineering challenges with three core science topics—force, electricity and sound. The challenges use low cost, readily available materials and are linked to national science and technology standards. Order your free copy of the Design Squad Teacher’s Guide.

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Teacher Education and Professional Development Opportunities

Project Dragonfly

Miami University's Project Dragonfly is accepting applications now for its 2010 graduate field courses and master's programs offering international field and conservation studies in Africa, Asia and the Americas. Each accepted applicant is awarded a tuition scholarship covering 2010 field course tuition, equivalent to $3,100 in-state and $7,100 out-of-state. The deadline to apply is Thursday, January 28, 2010.

Created by Dragonfly and the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Earth Expeditions graduate courses and the Global Field Program (GFP) Master's degree bring together graduate students, scientists, educators and community leaders at critical conservation field sites in Belize, Costa Rica, Baja, Trinidad, Mongolia, Thailand, Kenya and Namibia.

Earth Expeditions courses and the GFP Master's may be completed part-time from anywhere in the U.S. or abroad and are open to educators and other professionals from all settings and disciplines, regardless of academic focus. For information and to apply, visit these websites:

Society for Science & the Public Fellows Program

The Society for Science & the Public (SSP) Fellows Program provides funds and training to selected U.S. science and math teachers who serve under-resourced students to enable interested and motivated students to perform high-quality independent scientific research. Competitively selected from a large entrant pool of high school science and math teachers from 36 states and American Samoa, each Fellow will receive funding directly for their classroom and community, full support to attend the Fellows Institute in Washington, D.C. and ongoing training and resources from SSP. Successful participants can retain their Fellowship for up to four years to ensure that promising students can pursue independent research through their high school years. The deadline to apply is January 15, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. eastern standard time. For more information or to learn how to apply, visit the Society for Science & the Public's website.

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Helpful Tools, Tips, and Projects to Pass on to Parents

Nature Clubs for Families

Spending time outdoors improves the physical and mental well-being of children and adults alike. The Children & Nature Network has developed a toolkit specifically for families interested in spending more time outdoors and starting a local Nature Club. It includes a Quick Start Guide with simple instructions on how to start a Nature Club, as well as activity ideas, tips and checklists for getting started. The kit is available online (PDF) in both English and Spanish.

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What Is Science Matters?

Science Matters is an initiative by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) to bring content, news, and information that supports quality science education to parents and teachers nationwide.

Science Matters builds on the success of the Building a Presence for Science program, first launched in 1997 as an e-networking initiative to assist teachers of science with professional development opportunities. Building a Presence for Science—now Science Matters—reaches readers in 34 states and the District of Columbia.

Why does Science Matter? Science is critical to understanding the world around us. Most Americans feel that they received a good education and that their children will as well. Unfortunately, not many are aware that international tests show that American students are simply not performing well in science when compared to students in other countries. Many students (and their parents!) believe that science is irrelevant to their lives.

Innovation leads to new products and processes that sustain our economy, and this innovation depends on a solid knowledge base in science, math, and engineering. All jobs of the future will require a basic understanding of math and science. The most recent ten year employment projections by the U.S. Labor Department show that of the 20 fastest growing occupations projected for 2014, 15 of them require significant mathematics or science preparation to successfully compete for a job

This is why Science Matters. Quality learning experiences in the sciences—starting at an early age—are critical to science literacy and our future workforce. Feel free to publish this information in school newsletters and bulletins, and share it with other parents, teachers, and administrators.

Visit the Science Matters website.

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We Want to Hear from You

Do have a story idea or announcement that you think we should consider? Do you have a suggestion for how we can make this newsletter better? Let us know what you think. E-mail us your suggestions and feedback at sciencematters@nsta.org. We look forward to hearing from you!

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