NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter February 2010

Here are your science education resources and announcements for February 2010 provided by the Science Matters Network. Please forward them on to other science educators in your school and/or school district.

Table of Contents

Working Toward the Next Generation of Science Standards

NSTA has long sought to take science education to the next level by addressing the challenges faced by states, school districts, and teachers as they work toward the goal of a science literate population. The need to focus the country on a rigorous set of science standards that are clear, coherent, and manageable is both compelling and urgent.

Over the past year, NSTA engaged a team of experts to advise and move the science standards effort forward. We solicited—and received—opinions from science teachers, supervisors, district and state leaders and many others about the scope and direction of new science standards. We also worked with key national organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Project 2061, the National Research Council (NRC), and Achieve, Inc. to further the effort.

This article by NSTA Executive Director Francis Eberle in the March 2010 NSTA Reports sheds light on where the project is headed.

Further reading:

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NSTA and netTrekker Announce New Partnership

Last week, NSTA and netTrekker, a leader in the delivery of digital K–12 educational resources, announced that they are partnering to offer a complete package of instructional and professional development resources for K–12 educators.

Through this new partnership, schools and districts can purchase a package of professional development resources from the NSTA Learning Center along with their netTrekker subscription. K–12 science teachers can easily access NSTA’s online professional development resources within their netTrekker search results to immediately find the support they need, and enhance their subject-area knowledge and instructional skills on the specific science topics that they’re teaching.

The netTrekker NSTA Learning Center package will be available this spring. netTrekker subscribers will be able to access a select portion of NSTA Learning Center resources in their search results as part of their netTrekker subscription, or they can opt to upgrade to access the full suite. For more information, visit netTrekker.com.

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Teacher Education, Professional Development, and Grant and Award Opportunities

Call for Applications—High School Teacher Teams Invited to Fly Experiments Aboard NASA Reduced Gravity Aircraft at Johnson Space Center

NSTA is seeking applications from teams of high school science, math and technology teachers who desire to participate in a Reduced Gravity Flight Week program offered through a joint project between NASA Johnson Space Center’s (JSC) Office of Education and Oklahoma State University’s Teaching From Space (TFS) Program. Fourteen teams of four to five educators teaching grades 9–12 (from a single school or a school district) will be selected to travel to Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to participate in the Reduced Gravity Flight Week, July 29 through August 7, 2010, and fly their own experiments aboard NASA’s Reduced Gravity Aircraft. All participants must be U.S. citizens.

NASA reduced gravity flight experiences offer educators the opportunity to successfully propose, design, and fabricate a reduced gravity investigation of their choice with their students; fly the experiment; conduct research in a microgravity environment; and evaluate the investigation. Educators then share their findings with their students (who are not permitted to fly) and emulate the nature of inquiry to the larger education arena via a community experience of learning and future flight participants. The opportunity offers educators the chance to participate in a first-class, inquiry learning experience and to engage, educate, and inspire their students in the STEM disciplines using NASA unique content and resources. In-flight and post-flight video activities allow educators enhanced opportunities to share their experience with the students. NSTA will support the Flight Week and provide pre-flight and post-flight professional development.

The 10-day Flight Week will include training, readiness preparation and experiment/equipment evaluation prior to actual flight days. NASA will cover the cost of securing the plane for Flight Week while the educators secure and pay travel and experiment equipment expenses to participate in Flight Week. Each selected team will be paired with a NASA mentor who will fly with the team and provide pre-flight technical guidance relating to the experiment design.

Selected participants will begin their involvement in the project beginning in April 2010 by participating in a series of training web seminars and initiating work on creating their experiment with NASA. Post-flight participation activities occur through December 2010. Applications for participation in Flight Week are due at NSTA by March 10, 2010.

For more information or an application, contact Marie Wiggins, Senior Director, Science Education Competitions and Teacher Awards at NSTA at (703) 312-9241 or mwiggins@nsta.org.

Siemens Teachers as Researchers (STARs)

Have you ever wanted to bring the excitement of authentic research into the classroom?  Siemens teachers as Researchers (STARs) will provide the experience, resources, and contacts you need to do just that!

Siemens Teachers as Researchers is a two-week residential professional development program, in which teachers engage in mentored research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. STARs provides middle school and high school STEM teachers the opportunity to engage with top scientists and researchers on short-term research projects about current topics of national interest that are related to ongoing research at the laboratory.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) mentor scientists will design short-term research projects on current topics of national interest that are related to ongoing research at the laboratory. Working in teams of four to five, teachers will collaborate with ORNL scientific teams to conduct assigned research projects. DOE-ACTS teachers at ORNL will provide additional leadership and resources to help you incorporate research into your science and math classrooms. In addition to the research immersion, you will have additional educational enhancements in the form of seminars, mini-workshops, tours, and field trips to focus and expand the research experience.

The deadline for applications is March 1. For more information about the program, visit the Siemens Academy website.

Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM)

The PAESMEM Program seeks to identify outstanding mentoring efforts that enhance the participation of groups (i.e., women, minorities, and persons with disabilities) that are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The awardees serve as leaders in the national effort to develop fully U.S. human resources in STEM disciplines. For more information about the program, visit the National Science Foundation website.

U.S. Department of Education Teaching Ambassador Fellowships

Teachers with successful strategies for increasing student achievement are encouraged to apply for the 2010–2011 U.S. Department of Education Teaching Ambassador Fellowship. Teachers will be chosen based upon their record of leadership, impact on student achievement, and potential for contribution to the Department and the field.

Classroom Fellows will serve their regular teaching contracts with their districts and will be paid to perform additional fellowship duties for the Department of Education. As practicing classroom teachers, these Fellows will share an important perspective for—and will gain more knowledge about—education policy and program development. They will share their experiences with other Fellows and with the Department of Education at designated times throughout the year.

Washington Fellows will serve as full-time federal employees in Washington, D.C., from summer 2010 through June 2011. They will be placed in appropriate positions within the Department of Education to work on education program development and implementation. They will focus on using their previous classroom experience to contribute knowledge and insight to various Department of Education projects. They will spend most of their time working in program offices, increasing their knowledge of and contributing to federal education policies and programs, and collaborating with other Fellows.

Applications for the 2010–2011 Teaching Ambassador Fellowship will be accepted through March 2, 2010. All applications must be received by 12:00 midnight Eastern Time on March 2, 2010. No materials will be accepted after the submission date. For more information, visit the Department of Education website.

Student Science Competitions

Kohl's Kids Who Care Scholarship Program

The Kohl’s Kids Who Care Scholarship Program recognizes and rewards young volunteers (ages 6–18) whose efforts have made a positive impact on their communities. Nominees will be divided into two groups (ages 6–12 and 13–18). Awards will be given on three levels. More than 2,100 store winners will be awarded a $50 Kohl’s Gift Card. More than 200 regional winners will be awarded $1,000 scholarships toward their post-secondary education. Ten national winners will be awarded $9,000 scholarships for a total of $10,000 in scholarships, and Kohl’s will donate $1,000 to a nonprofit organization on each winner’s behalf. To nominate young volunteers ages six to 18 for a Kohl’s Kids Who Care scholarship, visit www.kohlskids.com. Nominations will be accepted through March 15, and nominators must be 21 years or older.

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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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