NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter

October 2012

Here are your science education resources and announcements for October 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

U.S. Earn an Average C– Grade Overall on Child Well-Being, According to New Report

Despite the increased emphasis on children in the national agenda, U.S. earned a measly C- grade overall on child well-being, according to a new national report card released today by First Focus and Save the Children.

In “America’s Report Card 2012: Children in the U.S.,” the nation received lackluster grades in five separate categories: economic security, early childhood education, K–12 education, permanence and stability, and health and safety.

U.S. grades for the five categories include:

  • Economic security: D; based on the number of children living in poverty, experiencing food insecurity and unstable housing.
  • Early childhood education: C–; based on early-learning program availability and enrollment, as well as access to child care.
  • K–12 education: C–; based on children’s math, reading and science levels, school resources, the number of at-risk youth, and education attainment.
  • Permanency and stability: D; based on the well-being of children impacted by the child welfare, juvenile justice, and immigrations systems.
  • Health and safety: C+; based on the state of health insurance coverage for children, access to health care and preventive services, public health and safety, and environmental health.

Click here for the complete report.

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New Issue Brief Examines Eighth-Grade Achievement in Science, Math and Reading For Language-Minority Students

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, released an issue brief that examines eighth-grade achievement in science, reading, and math for language-minority students (i.e., those from homes in which the primary language was one other than English) who began kindergarten in the 1998-199 school year. According to the brief, “on a scale of 0 to 111, the science scores for students whose primary home language was English (84 points) and those for English Proficient students (83 points) were higher than the scores for both groups of ELLs (74 and 67 points, respectively, for those who were proficient by the spring of kindergarten and those who were not).” Click here to read the issue brief in its entirety.

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NSTA Announcements

Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy Application Deadline Fast-Approaching

Since 2005, more than 3,600 third- through fifth-grade teachers have attended the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy, impacting the lives of 230,000 students. Applications for the 2013 Academy are being accepted through October 31 at www.SendMyTeacher.com.

This weeklong, all expense–paid professional development opportunity equips elementary school teachers with new ways to inspire their students in math and science. Alumni have gone on to host mini-Academies in their home districts and become STEM leaders in the community. Learn more and nominate a teacher to apply at www.SendMyTeacher.com.

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Teacher Education, Professional Development, and Grant and Award Opportunities

Maley/FTEE Technology and Engineering Teacher Scholarship

The Foundation for Technology and Engineering Educators is sponsoring the $1,000 Maley/FTEE Technology and Engineering Teacher Scholarship. Its purpose is to support teachers in their preparation to increase the positive outcomes of technology and engineering education. Criteria include:

  • Evidence of teaching success;
  • Plans for action research;
  • Recommendations;
  • Plans for professional development; and
  • The applicant's need.

Applicants must be technology and engineering teachers at any grade level who are beginning or continuing graduate study. For more information about the scholarship, click here.

Gustav Ohaus Award

OHAUS Corporation, manufacturer and marketer of mechanical balances and scales, seeks applicants for the annual Gustav Ohaus Award, to recognize innovations which have the potential to improve science teaching. One deserving educator is recognized for excellence in science teaching in the form of curricula design, teaching strategies, administrative or organizational patterns, and laboratory utilization with emphasis on measurement activities. The winner will receive a $1,500 cash prize, a trip to the 2013 NSTA National Conference in San Antonio, Texas, and a personalized award. The recipient’s school will receive $1,000 worth of OHAUS balances. Click here for more information.

Iron Egghead Video Contest

Can you explain science with seven everyday objects? Scientific American is looking for videos that explain a part, process or system of the human body in two minutes or less. In addition to appearing on camera, contestants must use:

  • Paper (or another equivalent writing surface);
  • Pen (or other writing implement, such as a pencil);
  • Rubber bands;
  • Paper clips;
  • String (or yarn, wire, etc.);
  • Cups (paper, styrofoam, ceramic or other type of container); and
  • Balls (ping-pong ball, tennis ball, basketball).

A panel of judges will declare a winner, whose video will be featured on the Scientific American website along with runners-up. There will also be a viewer’s choice selection.

The contest remains open to November 30, 2012. Winners will be announced in January 2013. Click here to read the official contest rules and guidelines, which will also have instruction on how to upload videos.

Knowles Science Teaching Fellowships

The Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, an advocate for beginning teachers and the teaching profession in general, is now accepting applications for its 2013 Teaching Fellowships. Valued at up to $175,000 and renewable for up to five years, the highly competitive Fellowships are awarded to new teachers committed to teaching science, technology, engineering, and math in schools nationwide. Click here to learn more about the program.

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Teacher Resources

MIT’s K–12 Website

It’s just beginning, but the science students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have begun creating science videos for K–12 classes. Teachers can search by grade level and subject at the website, and if an appropriate video isn’t available for the concept you want explained, you can submit a request for it. Sample videos include The Colorful Chemistry of Acids and Bases (grades 1–5); Bread Mold Kills Bacteria (grades 6–8); and Genetic Engineering (grades 9–12).

K–8 Global Education Lesson Plans

Heifer International’s Read to Feed resources presents age-appropriate lessons in core subjects that aim to increase students’ global awareness and understanding of sustainable development issues. Highlights from the science lessons include Places We Live, which introduces primary students to the geography of Uganda and the United States, and Biogas as a Source of Energy, which tells intermediate students how the breakdown of dead plant and animal material and kitchen and animal waste can be converted into a biofuel. Registration required to access the materials.

PBS Teachers STEM Resources

K–12 educators can access a host of digital science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) classroom resources at this website. Each page presents an annotated snapshot of selected resources in each field, along with a link to the Public Broadcasting Service’s (PBS) searchable database o more than STEM resources. In addition, teachers can access professional development learning modules to build their knowledge of climate change and other topics.

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Student Opportunities and Resources

Humans in Space Youth Art Competition

This international competition invites students ages 10–18 to express their ideas about the future of human space exploration through visual, literary, musical, or digital art. Artwork submissions will be judged on creativity, skill, and demonstration of meaning relevant to expressing “How will humans use science and technology to explore space, and what mysteries will we uncover?” Winning art will be showcased at displays and multimedia performances worldwide from 2013 to 2014, as well as in an online gallery. For more information, click here.

Name That Asteroid! Student Competition

Students worldwide have an opportunity to name an asteroid from which an upcoming NASA mission will return the first samples to Earth. Scheduled to launch in 2016, the mission is called the Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer, and it could hold clues to the origin of the solar system and organic molecules that may have seeded life on Earth. Each contestant can submit one name, up to 16 characters long. Entries must include a short explanation and rationale for the name. Submissions must be made by an adult on behalf of the student. Click here for more information.

Earth Gauge Kids

Earth Gauge’s website for students in grades 5–8 presents facts, games, and activities to help students understand how weather influences the environment. Each month, the website focuses on a specific theme (e.g., “Heat and Hot Weather,” “Rain,” “Temperature”) and features a student quiz, Did You Know? facts, and tips and tools for more information.

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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, sponsored by the ExxonMobil Foundation and Shell Oil Company, 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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