NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter

May/June 2014

Here are your science education resources and announcements for May/June 2014 provided by the Science Matters Network. Please forward them on to other science educators in your school and/or school district.

Table of Contents

President Announces News Steps to Advance “Educate to Innovate” Campaign

Last week at the White House Science Fair, President Obama announced new steps as part of his Educate to Innovate campaign, a national effort to get more students interested in the STEM subjects. New STEM education initiatives announced include:

  • A new $35 million Department of Education competition, in support of the President’s goal to train 100,000 excellent STEM teachers;
  • A major expansion of STEM AmeriCorps to provide STEM learning opportunities for 18,000 low-income students this summer;
  • A national STEM mentoring effort kicking off in seven cities, as well as new steps by leading technology and media companies, non-profits and others to connect more students to STEM.

Read more about President Obama’s plans here.

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Results Revealed: Northwest Evaluation Association’s New Study of Educators’ Attitudes Toward Assessment

A survey released last month by the Northwest Evaluation Association (NEA) revealed that teachers and district administrator are looking more favorably than they did two years ago on the amount of time that students spend taking tests, and teachers spend preparing for them.

This is one of the key finding in Make Assessment Matter: Students and Educators Want Tests that Support Learning. While most teachers still think too much time is spent on testing, fewer think so than compared with 2011, the last time NEA did the survey. Two years later, more teachers think "just the right amount of time" is going into assessments.

Make Assessment Matter highlights for the first time the perceptions of students, 94 percent of whom agree that tests are important for understanding what they are learning, getting into a good college and knowing whether they will move on to the next grade. Like the 2012 study, Make Assessment Matter surveyed classroom teachers and district administrators. The study presents the findings of surveys of 1,042 students, 1,004 teachers, and 200 district administrators.

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New Association Dedicated to K-12 Chemistry Educators Announced

The American Chemical Society (ACS) announced that it is launching the American Association of Chemistry Teachers. The first of its kind in the U.S., the association is slated to begin operations in September and will be dedicated to K–12 chemistry educators to help support them in the classroom. Learn more here.

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Lawrence Hall of Science Research Study 2014–2015: Call for Participation

The Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley and Boston College would like to invite middle school educators to participate in a curriculum research study during the 2014–2015 school year. The goal is to explore teachers' ideas about the science practices described in the Next Generation Science Standards and how Lawrence Hall of Science curriculum supports teachers' understanding of these practices. Participants in the study will have the opportunity to teach three Lawrence Hall of Science science units aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards.

Unit topic areas include Earth Science and Space Science. Curriculum materials will be provided, including access to an online teacher's guide, physical kit materials for up to 160 students, and a master copy of print materials, summative assessments, and homework. Participating teachers who complete the study requirements will receive $200 and may keep the study kit materials. If you meet the study eligibility criteria and study requirements and are interested in participating, please complete the interest survey. Teachers should register by the end of the current school year to participate. Click here to participate.

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Teacher Education, Professional Development, and Grant and Award Opportunities

ESA’s Presidents Prizes for Outstanding Achievement in Primary, Secondary Education

Funded by the Entomological Society of America (ESA), these awards recognize educators who have gone beyond traditional teaching methods by using insects as educational tools. One winner will be chosen from among primary teachers (grades K–6) and one from among secondary teachers (grades 7–12). Awardees will receive a $400 donation made payable to the winner's school; a $400 award paid directly to the winner; gratis registration to attend ESA’s Annual Meeting; and an $800 award paid directly to the winner. Membership in ESA is not required. Also, a separate nominator is not required; applicants may nominate themselves. Application/nomination packages must be received by the awards administrator by July 1. Learn more here.

“From Failure to Promise” Grant

The purpose of this grant is to assist educators in moving students from "failure to promise" in science, literacy, math, or technology. Dr. C Moorer & Associates, Inc., will award six to eight $500 grants in 2014 to schools, community-based organizations, or libraries with creative ideas. The deadline to apply is July 31, 2014. For more information, click here.

Partners in Science Program

This program helps high school science teachers work with a mentor to do cutting-edge research over the course of two summers. About 25 grants are awarded each year to teachers in the Pacific Northwest. Participants must arrange their own partnerships, though some guidance is provided. The goal is to bring the knowledge gained from these research experiences back to the classroom to promote hands-on learning. Click here for more information.

The Friend of Education Award

This Award was created for individuals in the United States who have not made a career in education but who, by their deeds, dollars, or actions have supported PreK–12 teachers and the teaching profession. One individual is selected for the award per year.

Generally, selection will be based on contributions made over a career or an extended period. Occasionally, however, the selection may be based upon a single incident or activity. Nominations may be made by any person. The Award is an etched crystal optical tower and will be presented in Emporia during Hall of Fame Weekend or in Washington, D.C., during Hall of Fame ceremonies there. Click here for more information.

NAIS Challenge 20/20

This internet-based program, sponsored by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), pairs classes at any grade level (K–12) from schools in the United States with their counterpart classes in schools in other countries; together the teams (of two or three schools) tackle real global problems to find solutions that can be implemented at the local level and in their own communities. They accept private, public, charter schools from the U.S. and any other country. Schools can be elementary or secondary schools. There is no cost to participate in Challenge 20/20 and no travel required. Learn more by visiting the Challenge 20/20 website.

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Teacher Resources

Roots of STEM: Books and Ideas for Real-World Problem Solving in Your Classroom

STEM represent disciplines and tools for helping students develop the habits of mind necessary to solve complex real-world problems. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) converge around the topic of problem solving as early as kindergarten and challenge teachers to lay the foundation for students' futures. This collection of books and activity ideas from TeachersFirst.com offers approaches to problem solving related to STEM education. Find entry points and resources to apply in your own classroom. Click here to access resources.

Bozemanscience.com

Award-winning biology educator and YouTube Edu Guru Paul Andersen shares his passion for teaching and technology through hundreds of science videos explaining concepts in Advanced Placement (AP) Biology, AP Chemistry, Anatomy and Physiology, Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, Physics, and Statistics and Graphing. Anderson is known for articulating concepts clearly and succinctly and with infectious energy—qualities that fellow educators will surely appreciate, especially in his videos examining pedagogical topics, such as the NGSS. Access the videos here.

Everyday Examples in Engineering (E3s)

Keep first- and second-year college students eager for engineering experiences and help retain them in engineering programs with E3 lesson plans, demonstrations, and activity ideas from the National Science Foundation’s ENGAGE program. E3 resources use familiar objects—such as hula hoops, sausages, and iPods—to teach engineering concepts; studies have shown that using such objects helps learners connect to the material and retain interest. The website offers E3 experiences for nearly 20 engineering topics from chemistry and circuits to engineering design, properties of materials, and thermodynamics.

Inspiring STEM Learning: Education and Human Resources

This booklet from NSF’s Directorate of Education and Human Resources highlights the agency’s many education efforts that support STEM learning. The report highlights projects that investigate the best ways to learn STEM effectively and build on research and development in four main areas: STEM learning, learning environments, broadening participation, and workforce development. The document would be useful to national, state, and local education leaders involved in developing, improving, and promoting STEM education programs nationwide.

Science and Engineering Indicators: 2014 Digest

This report describes the state of U.S. science and engineering (S&E) and highlights issues of current opportunity or concern. These measures address an emerging set of trends of particular interest to planners and policymakers at all levels whose decisions affect our national S&E enterprise. The digest features 41 S&E indicators, including a section on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

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Student Competitions and Resources

Dr. Oz Celebrity Science Fair

Jimmy Kimmel, Russell Simmons, Joel McHale, Queen Latifah, and Wolfgang Puck are just some of the inaugural guests appearing in Dr. Oz's Celebrity Science Fair. Additional stars will be added throughout the year. Open to children and students up to grade 12, the national competition will receive submissions in the following categories: grades K–6, grades 7 and 8, and grades 9–12.

Projects will be judged on how well the presenter explains the scientific principle being demonstrated as well as whether the experiment outcome is as intended. Submissions by students 8th grade and younger must be done with a parent or teacher. Grades 9–12 can be submitted with a teacher, individually, or by groups of students. Entire classes can submit in any category. Learn more here.

24/7 Science

The Lawrence Hall of Science 24/7 Science website presents interactive games and activities for K–6 students. Students can play learning games such as How Small Is Small?, which explores nanotechnology concepts; Blasto, the Sub-Human Cannonball, which teaches about variables; and Sky Dive, which highlights the different layers of Earth’s atmosphere. The site also features hands-on activities for use in classrooms and after-school programs and at home. Favorites are activities with opportunities to share data and connect with fellow scientists, such as Best Beaks, an exploration of various bird beaks; Bridge Builders, in which students build and test several types of bridges; and Gooo!, in which students work with a substance that acts like both a solid and a liquid.

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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.

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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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