NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter

November 2011

Here are your science education resources and announcements for November 2011 provided by the Science Matters Network. Please forward them on to other science educators in your school and/or school district.

Table of Contents

Study Finds that Graduates with an Associate’s Degree in STEM Earn More Than Those with a Bachelor’s Degree in Non-STEM Occupations

According to a new report published last month by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 65 percent of Bachelor's degrees in STEM (science, engineering, technology and mathematics) occupations earn more than Master's degrees in non-STEM occupations. Additionally, 47 percent of Bachelor's degrees in STEM occupations earn more than Ph.D.s in non-STEM occupations. Even people who only have STEM certificates have the potential to earn more than people with non-STEM degrees.

The report also found that of out of every 100 students with a Bachelor's degree, 19 graduate with a STEM degree but only eight are working in STEM occupations ten years after graduation.

"STEM provides choice for people both immediately after school and at mid-career, allowing people to transition to different and oftentimes more lucrative career pathways, including management and healthcare that provide long-term stability and excellent wages," says Anthony P. Carnevale, the Center's director and the report's lead author.

The report details STEM earnings by occupation, race, sex, and education level, and found:

  • For women and minorities, STEM is the best equal opportunity employer;
  • STEM pays more than most jobs at each level of education, and at the graduate level is exceeded only by a small sliver of managerial and healthcare occupations; and
  • STEM training pays more even if you don't work in a STEM occupation.

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New Report Highlights Need for More Instruction Time for Science Learning

More instruction time, particularly for high-poverty schools, is needed to improve U.S. student achievement in science, according to a new report, Strengthening Science Education: The Power of More Time to Deepen Inquiry and Engagement, released this month from the National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL).

Referencing current science achievement levels of U.S. students and citing several studies that suggest that science is being eliminated from the elementary classroom, the report makes the case for restructuring the school calendar to allow more learning time for science.

The report takes a look at five high-poverty public schools that expanded the school day with the goal of improving science education. The report details how these schools used the additional time to improve science teaching and learning, including using the time to promote more hands-on learning activities and providing more professional development for the teachers to boost their content knowledge and pedagogical skills.

Click here to read the full report.

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Teacher Education, Professional Development, and Grant and Award Opportunities

N IH’s K–12 Lessons About Bioscience Challenge

The National Institutes of Health's K–12 Lessons about Bioscience (LAB) Challenge asks teachers, students, parents, scientists, and science enthusiasts to submit their favorite experiments for elementary, middle, and high school students. The best experiments will become part of an official collection that NIH will distribute for free in print and electronically.

Anyone can participate in this challenge, as long as they live in the U.S. or a U.S. territory. The entry deadline is 11:59 p.m. CST, December 15, 2011. For more information visit the Challenge website.

N PS Teacher-Ranger-Teacher Program

The Teacher-Ranger-Teacher (TRT) program provides opportunities for teachers to connect to the resources in a national park. Classroom teachers are detailed as park rangers to Acadia National Park through an Inter-Governmental Personnel Act (IPA) agreement between their own public school district and the National Park Service. The program focuses on teachers from schools with ethnically diverse student populations who have had little or no experience with national parks or limited opportunity to explore the relevance parks can have in their lives and the lives of their students.

Teachers spend 8–10 weeks working and living in the park. They perform various duties depending on their interests and the needs of the park. The park provides a ranger uniform, shared housing, and a stipend ($300/week). Teachers develop lesson plans based on their park experience for use in the classroom and parks.

More information about the program is available on Acadia National Park’s website. This link will direct you to a downloadable application form.

Lawrence Scadden Teacher of the Year Award in Science Education for Students with Disabilities

Lawrence Scadden Teacher of the Year Award recognizes excellence in science teaching for students with disabilities. The award is open to all current K-12 teachers (general education, special education, or science teachers, public or private) who have taught at least five years. Nominees must have made an outstanding contribution to science students with disabilities. The winner of the award is expected to attend the NSTA National Conference on Science Education to accept the award. A check for $1,000 is provided to offset travel expenses to the NSTA conference. Click here for more information.

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Teacher Resources

NSTA Radio

NSTA is pleased to introduce the new NSTA Radio on the BAM Radio Network. BAM Radio is the largest education radio network in the world offering programming from the nation's top education organizations and thought leaders. NSTA is the newest Network Partner with BAM Radio, and every month we will be hosting five- to seven-minute discussions on a range of topics with key leaders in science education.

Spellbound Video Series

The American Chemical Society has produced a video series for the 2011 International Year of Chemistry that features eight diverse scientists. Introduce your students to notables like femtochemistry pioneer Ahmed Zaweli and researcher Helen M. Free, whose test strip for diabetics developed in the 1950s is still used today. The videos explore the scientists’ motivations, mentors, and curiosity about everyday things that influenced their successful science careers. Targeted for middle and high school classrooms, the videos are meant to inspire students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Teacher PD Sourcebook, Fall 2011

Education Week’s Fall 2011 edition of the Teacher PD Sourcebook is now available online! This issue's theme, "Reaching All Students," focuses on strategies for maximizing potential in learners with diverse needs. According to the annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, 91% of teachers said that schools need to strengthen programs and resources to help students with diverse learning needs prepare for success after high school. With this in mind, this edition of Teacher PD Sourcebook provides effective strategies for educators who work with high-needs students—specifically those who have learning disabilities or limited English, or who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

2011 National STEM Report Educator Edition

Who is implementing STEM programs and why? How are states implementing STEM initiatives? What are the major challenges facing STEM educators today? STEM educators may request a free copy of Learning.com's 2011 National STEM Report Educator Edition here.

Also included in the report, you'll find

  • What motivates students to continue and even choose careers in STEM fields? Why do today's students choose STEM over other fields of study, such as business, law, or the arts?
  • What demographic disparities exist in STEM education? Attracting a diverse population of workers to the STEM fields is vital for the US economy. Understanding "who is in and who is out" and why is essential.

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Student Opportunities and Resources

EngineerGirl! Food Engineering Essay Contest—2012

Submissions for the National Academy of Engineering’s EngineerGirl! Food Engineering Essay Contest are now being accepted. Now in its 12th year, the competition invites students in third through twelfth grade to write an essay about the role of engineering in providing safe and nutritious food . Submissions must be entered by 6:00 p.m. EST on March 1, 2012, to be considered. All winning entries will be published on the EngineerGirl! website and winners will receive cash prizes: first place winners $500, second place winners $250, third place winners $100. For more information about the contest, visit the competition website.

B ob the Bunny’s Cartoon Competition

Bob the Bunny's competition, sponsored by Volvo Adventure in partnership with the United Nations Environment Program, is aimed at children ages 10 to 12 years old. To enter, students form a team of one to three members, identify a local environmental issue, and create an A4 cartoon strip illustrating the issue and actions that they might take to solve it. The winning team will be sent to the 2012 Volvo Adventure final in Goteborg, Sweden. For more information visit the competition website.

Space Camp Scholarships

Scholarships are available for students ages 9–18 to attend Space Camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Full scholarships cover tuition, room, and board for any weeklong, age-appropriate camp and are good for one year. Transportation and incidentals are the responsibility of the scholarship recipient. Applicants may apply in one of four categories— Financial Need/Disadvantaged, Special Needs, Academic Achievement, or General. The 2012 scholarship applications must be postmarked by December 19, 2011. Click here for more information about the program.

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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 at www.nsta.org/sciencematters.

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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. Email us your suggestions and feedback at sciencematters@nsta.org. We look forward to hearing from you!

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