NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter March 2010

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

Table of Contents

Obama Administration Releases ESEA Blueprint

On March 15, the Obama administration released its blueprint to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). In a March 13 video address to the nation that previewed the blueprint, President Obama said the plan sets an ambitious goal that all students should graduate from high school prepared for college and careers no matter who they are or where they come from. Obama acknowledged that achieving the goal will be difficult, but is essential for the country and its children.

“As a nation, we are engaged in many important endeavors: improving the economy, reforming the health care system, encouraging innovation in energy and other growth industries of the twenty-first century,” Obama said. “But our success in these efforts—and our success in the future as a people—will ultimately depend on what happens long before an entrepreneur opens his doors, or a nurse walks the rounds, or a scientist steps into her laboratory. Our future is determined each and every day when our children enter the classroom, ready to learn and brimming with promise. It’s that promise we must help them fulfill.”

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U.S. Women and Minority Scientists Discouraged from Pursuing STEM Careers, National Survey Shows

Significant numbers of today’s women and underrepresented minority chemists and chemical engineers (40 percent) say they were discouraged from pursuing a STEM career (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) at some point in their lives, according to a new Bayer Corporation survey.

U.S. colleges are cited by them as the leading place in the American education system where discouragement happens (60 percent) and college professors as the individuals most likely responsible for the discouragement (44 percent).

“If we want to achieve true diversity in America’s STEM workforce, we must first understand the root causes of underrepresentation and the ongoing challenges these groups face,” said Greg Babe, President and CEO, Bayer Corporation. “We want to knock down barriers. If we can do that, we’ll be able to develop the attitudes, behaviors, opportunities and resources that lead to success.”

The Bayer Facts of Science Education XIV survey polled 1,226 female, African-American, Hispanic and American Indian chemists and chemical engineers about their childhood, academic and workplace experiences that play a role in attracting and retaining women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.

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Teacher Resources

Siemens STEM Academy

The Siemens STEM Academy is a premier online community designed to foster achievement in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) through collaboration and sharing of best practices. Educators can share their favorite lesson plans, tips, tricks, ideas, presentations, websites, videos, and other STEM-related resources that may prove useful for those looking to expand their classroom materials. Educators looking for ideas can browse the Teacher Resources by subject or grade level. The Academy also hosts a series of webinars on STEM-related topics. For more information, visit www.siemensstemacademy.com.

The Growing Classroom: Garden-Based Science

The Growing Classroom is a teacher's manual with step-by-step instruction and strategies for setting up a garden-based science program and outdoor classroom activities. Topics include planning a garden laboratory, facilitating investigative lessons on ecology and nutrition and involving the community. Developed by the Life Lab Science Program, this award-winning second edition has been revised to meet current science standards and is appropriate for grades 2–6. Learn more at the Gardening with Kids website.

Media-Rich Lesson Ideas from NOVA

NOVA is delighted to bring an exciting new way to engage your students in the wonders of science. These media-rich lesson ideas help you navigate the myriad resources on the NOVA website and integrate NOVA video, interactive features, lessons, and much more into your science or social studies classroom.

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Teacher Education, Professional Development, and Grant and Award Opportunities

Science WoRx for Your Students

As a science teacher, you play a pivotal role in inspiring the next generation of scientists. Your hard work and commitment is what helps to ignite the spark that fuels your students' enthusiasm for science in and beyond the classroom.

To reward your efforts, Science WoRx is hosting a lesson plan competition, Make myLab WoRx, inviting teachers to submit their favorite original lesson plans for a chance to win $2,500 worth of lab equipment for their school. For more information, please visit www.scienceworx.org.

Astellas Pharma US, Inc. created Science WoRx, a mentoring program and online resource network for science teachers. The program supports science teachers’ needs in and outside the classroom, and is designed to instill in students a curiosity about science’s role in human health and medicine.

AAAS Project 2061 PD Opportunity Comes to Oregon in June: “Using Atlas for Science Literacy” Workshop

Do you want to learn more about AAAS's Atlas of Science Literacy, Vol. 1 & 2 and how to put it to use to improve curriculum, instruction, and assessment? AAAS Project 2061 is offering its popular professional development workshop "Using Atlas of Science Literacy" at Southern Oregon University, Ashland, June 24–26. Go to the Project 2061 website for more details, including scholarships and discounted registration. The Atlas of Science Literacy is co-published by AAAS and NSTA.

AAAS Leadership in Science Education Prize

Help spread the word about an outstanding science teacher in your school or district. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is now accepting nominations for the 2010 AAAS Leadership in Science Education Prize for High School Teachers. The $1,000 prize honors a high school science teacher who has contributed to the AAAS goal of advancing science education by developing an innovative and effective strategy, activity, or program. In addition, the winner will be invited to attend and make a brief presentation at the annual Shanghai International Forum on Science Literacy of Pre-college Students as a guest of the Shanghai Association for Science and Technology.

For full details about the prize and to download the nomination and application forms, visit the AAAS website. For more information, contact AAAS Project 2061’s Lester Matlock at lmatlock@aaas.org. Deadline: May 21, 2010.

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Student Science Competitions

NASA "No Boundaries" Project

The "No Boundaries" Project, developed by NASA and USA Today Education, helps students explore careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), while learning about NASA - the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Teachers will assign student groups to research a NASA career in each of the four STEM fields. Groups will then develop and present a project that markets their career to teens. Winners will be recognized on the No Boundaries Web site and will be eligible for a VIP experience at a NASA center and may be asked to present their work to NASA. Deadline: April 15, 2010. For more information, visit the USA Today website.

Brower Youth Awards

The Brower Youth Awards recognize people ages 12 to 22 living in North America who have shown outstanding leadership on a project or campaign with positive environmental and social impact. Each of the six Brower Youth Award recipients for 2010 will receive a $3,000 cash prize and an all-expenses paid trip to the San Francisco Bay Area to attend the Awards ceremony on October 19, 2010. The recipients will also participate in a week of speaking engagements, training, and environmental conferences leading up to the ceremony. Application deadline: May 15, 2010. Learn more at the Brower Youth Awards website.

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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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