NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter

April 2012

Here are your science education resources and announcements for April 2012 provided by the Science Matters Network. Please forward them on to other science educators in your school and/or school district.

Table of Contents

Bayer Unveils New Report Examining State of U.S. STEM Education and Innovation Workforce Pipeline

Bayer Corporation recently unveiled a new report titled, “STEM Education, Science Literacy and the Innovation Workforce in America: Analysis and Insights from the Bayer Facts of Science Education Surveys 1995–2011.”

The report is a compilation of 15 years of Bayer Facts of Science Education public opinion research surveys, which have taken the pulse of American attitudes about timely issues related to science and technology, science education and more recently STEM diversity and underrepresentation. The surveys have polled various audiences, including the nation’s Ph.D. scientists and science teachers; STEM department chairs at the country’s leading research universities; Fortune 1000 STEM company CEOs, corporate human resource directors and other business leaders; and deans of colleges and universities, as well as parents, students and the general public, among others.

The report reveals 15 beliefs held universally by the stakeholders polled, including:

  • Science literacy is critical for all Americans young and old, scientist or non-scientist.
  • U.S. global economic leadership and competitiveness are intrinsically linked to a robust science and technology innovation pipeline and workforce.
  • America’s future STEM leadership is dependent on the country’s ability to recruit and retain more women, African-Americans, Hispanics and American Indians (underrepresented minorities) in STEM fields.
  • Science interest and ability are color-blind and gender-neutral: from an early age, boys and girls of all races and ethnic backgrounds are interested in science.
  • Parents and teachers are critically important to nurturing children’s science interest, even if they themselves are not scientists or don’t have all the answers.
  • In elementary school, science should be the “4th R” and given the same emphasis as reading, writing and mathematics.
  • A hands-on, minds-on approach to science education is the best way for students to learn science and build crucial science literacy skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving and the ability to work in teams.
  • Students and teachers benefit from having direct access to scientists and engineers on a regular basis in the classroom.
  • America’s leading research colleges and universities should rethink how they define academic success when it comes to undergraduate STEM students.
  • America’s STEM industries and communities need to more effectively communicate with all of today’s students about a range of issues including job opportunities and the fact that they are wanted and needed in these jobs.

Click here to access an online version of the full report.

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NGA Brief Highlights Advantages of Informal Science

Last month, the National Governors Association released a new issues brief stating that science learning outside the classroom or “informal science education” is a frequently overlooked resource for helping states advance their STEM goals.

The document, titled “The Role of Informal Science in the State Education Agenda,” urges governors to:

  • Explicitly include informal science education on their agenda of actions to improve STEM literacy and proficiency among the state’s youth;
  • Continue to support quality informal science programs in the state such as those offered by museums and science centers;
  • Encourage districts to support more project-based STEM learning in afterschool environments; and
  • Encourage the governor’s STEM council or state education agency to oversee the creation of an on-line catalogue of informal science activities offered throughout the state and a compendium of program evaluations.

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NSTA Announcements

Shell Science Lab Challenge Names 2012 Grand Prize Winner

Congratulations to Kristy Martens of Westmount Charter School in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, who was named the grand prize winner of the 2012 Shell Science Lab Challenge. The competition encouraged teachers (grades 6–12) in the U.S. and Canada, who have found innovative ways to deliver quality lab experiences with limited school and laboratory resources, to share their approaches for a chance to win a school science lab makeover support package valued at $20,000.

Four national finalists were also named in the second annual Shell Science Lab Challenge. They include:

  • Jennifer Bagardi, Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, Detroit, Michigan
  • Lance Doss, Wagoner High School, Wagoner, Oklahoma
  • Dr. Manuel Paul Peña, Longfellow High School for Pregnant & Parenting Mothers, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Denise Ponte and Joseph Mastroeni, Roy W. Brown Middle School, Bergenfield, New Jersey

As the grand prize winner, Martens received a science lab makeover support package for her school valued at $20,000. The prize package includes an $8,000 Shell cash grant, $8,000 in donated lab equipment, $1,000 in NSTA prizes—to include an NSTA bookstore gift certificate and NSTA conference registrations, NSTA memberships and NSTA Learning Center subscriptions for two teachers—and an expense-paid trip for two teachers to attend the 2012 NSTA National Conference on Science Education.

For more information about the program visit the competition website.

Apply Now to the 2012–13 NSTA New Science Teacher Academy!

Apply now to the 2012 NSTA New Science Teacher Academy. Science teachers located throughout the country, who will be entering their second or third year of teaching and whose schedule is a minimum of 51 percent middle or high school science, are encouraged to apply.

NSTA Fellows chosen for the program receive a comprehensive membership package, online mentoring with trained mentors who teach in the same discipline, and the opportunity to participate in a variety of web-based professional development activities, including web seminars. In addition, each NSTA Fellow receives financial support to attend and participate in NSTA’s National Conference on Science Education, taking place in San Antonio, April 11–14, 2013.

For more information about the NSTA New Science Teacher Academy or to learn how to apply to become a fellow, click here. Applications must be submitted no later than July 1, 2012 to be considered.

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Teacher Education, Professional Development, and Grant and Award Opportunities

The Pennsylvania Society of Biomedical Research Presents Free Cutting Edge Science Curriculum Workshops for PA Teachers

The Pennsylvania Society of Biomedical Research, in collaboration with Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, is conducting free cutting-edge science curriculum workshops for Pennsylvania teachers. Learn to address difficult PA state science standards including:

  • The potential impact of stem cell research;
  • Ethical considerations of technology; and
  • Emerging medical technologies.

Participants will get free materials to take home, lunch, and ACT 48 credits. This event will be held on Saturday, April 28, 2012, at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. Detailed descriptions of the workshops are available here. If you have questions, please contact Lisa Cassaro at 717-731-3558 or lisa@psbr.org.

Entomological Foundation Competition for Science Project Ideas

The Entomological Foundation is holding its 2012 Science Project Contest to identify the top 5 to 10 science project ideas for grades K–12. Winners will receive $100 for each winning project. Any project related to insects, spiders, or related arthropods are welcome. Entries are being accepted now and will close on August 1, 2012. The Entomological Foundation is especially looking for project ideas from college students and K–12 educators. You can find out more here. A list of past winners can be found here.

John H. Lounsbury Award

The John H. Lounsbury Award for Distinguished Service is the highest award given by the National Middle School Association (NMSA). This award is given only when an individual has demonstrated a high level of service, integrity, and leadership in middle level education. Selection procedures include a committee review of received nominations and materials. If a recommendation results from committee deliberations, it is submitted to the Board of Trustees for a final decision.

Viable candidates for this award include those who have made a global impact on middle level education, have a minimum of 10 years of actively demonstrated, distinguished service, have demonstrated scholarship of the highest level in professional writing and research, and have maintained dedicated service to middle level education beyond the local, state, or regional level. Click here for more about the award.

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Teacher Resources

Science and Engineering Indicators 2012

This publication from the NSF National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) and the National Science Board (NSB) is a collection of quantitative data on science and engineering in the United States and abroad. Indicators, available here, includes an overview and eight chapters on the following:

  • Elementary and Secondary Mathematics and Science Education;
  • Higher Education in Science and Engineering;
  • Science and Engineering Labor Force;
  • Academic Research and Development: National Trends and International Comparisons;
  • Industry, Technology, and the Global Marketplace;
  • Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Understanding; and
  • State Indicators.

KidsGardening.org

KidsGardening.org provides lessons, activities, hand-outs and articles from PK–12th grade that apply across the curriculum. Educators can register school and community gardens, communicate with other programs, and engage in meaningful discussions about garden activities. Complete with how-to guides, garden stories, grants and resources, this free resource helps educators of all ages engage children in hands-on learning opportunities.

Siemens STEM Academy

Share your favorite STEM lesson plans, ideas, presentations, websites, or other resources at Siemens STEM Academy, a destination for middle and high school educators looking to grow their library of STEM resources that inspire students. Visitors can also connect with STEM experts through webinars on topics like “STEMulate Students’ Minds with Creative Web 2.0 Sites.”

How Things Fly Website

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s interactive website presents hands-on experiences exploring the science of flight. The lessons are supplemented with images, short videos, quiz questions, experiments, and activities. Geared primarily for middle level students but engaging for aviation enthusiasts of all ages, the site enables visitors to design a paper airplane, explore the inner workings of engines, and receive answers to flight-related questions. Social media fans can even launch a virtual paper airplane into Facebook or Twitter and watch how far it travels.

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

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