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Preparing Students for a STEM-Filled World

Don’t miss the STEM Forum & Expo, May 17–19, 2012, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Forum & Expo will focus on Tools for STEM Education…Preparations and Applications for Elementary and Middle School Educators.

The main focus of the STEM Forum & Expo is geared toward the elementary and middle school levels, where it all begins! However, input and considerations from high school, preservice, college, and university educators, and administrators are essential. After all, we need your feedback to best identify the STEM skill sets that students are lacking when they reach the high school and college levels and to pinpoint ways in which administrators can cultivate the development of successful STEM programs in elementary and middle schools.

The successful implementation of STEM education is “partnership dependent.” If you are a stakeholder, you will want to submit a proposal for consideration and/or plan to register for this unique opportunity, which is scheduled at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

Can’t join us in Atlantic City? Make STEM a focus of your teaching in your own classroom. The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has a wealth of resources on preparing students for a STEM-filled world. The following articles were written by your colleagues in the field and were vetted by our teams of expert reviewers. To find more resources, please visit NSTA’s journals (Science and Children, Science Scope, The Science Teacher, and the Journal of College Science Teaching) and the NSTA Press. Below, find a complimentary sampling of our offerings, broken down according to grade level.

Elementary Level Resources
first page of the article, “Engineering for All” Engineering for All (Science and Children, March 2010)

As calls for STEM education at the elementary level become more vociferous, elementary teachers may wonder whether engineering is meant for all students. The authors of this article assert that engineering can be especially empowering for those who struggle with traditional subjects. They describe how the core practice of engineering and its design process was taught in a third-grade inclusive classroom in which students designed windmill blades.
first page of the article, “Imaginative Inventions” Teaching Through Trade Books: Imaginative Inventions (Science and Children, March 2010)

Invention assists students in understanding the relationships between the individual subjects of STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). The playful nature of this month’s trade books adds that additional spark of creativity that is needed in the invention process.
first page of the article, “STEM Careers” Editor’s Note: STEM Careers (Science and Children, March 2010)

There is a new impetus for encouraging students to become more knowledgeable about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and perhaps encourage them to choose a career in science-related fields. Several groups and individuals, including President Obama, are talking about STEM careers. This is one of the most positive science education stories to hit the media since Sputnik.
first page of the article, “Talking Science” Talking Science, Modeling Scientists (Science and Children, July 2006)

Do you want your students to communicate like real scientists do? Fourth-grade students in South Carolina are doing just that as they log onto the Experimental Reflection Portal, or XRePort, an online system that pairs students and teachers from different schools and allows them to “talk” about their common science investigations. In this way, students communicate their science knowledge and experience firsthand the benefits of the collaborative nature of science.
Middle School Level Resources
opening page of the article, “CSI Web Adventures” CSI Web Adventures: A Forensics Virtual Apprenticeship for Teaching Science and Inspiring STEM Careers (Science Scope, January 2010)

CSI: The Experience, a traveling museum exhibit and companion web adventure, is a model for informal learning. The website was designed to complement the exhibit by modeling the forensic process. Substantive science, real-world lab techniques, and higher-level thinking skills were integrated to create a forensic virtual apprenticeship that would inspire science careers.
The Great Top Challenge (Science Scope, December 2009)

The U.S. has a deficit of university students majoring in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and subsequently entering STEM professions (National Science Board 2008). One way to address this problem is to make STEM careers more interesting and intellectually accessible to students in their formative years. This article describes a 5E science lesson that focuses on the nature of scientific inquiry by observing, building, and testing toy tops.
opening page of the article, “Fueling Interest in Science” Fueling Interest in Science: An After-School Program Model that Works (Science Scope, December 2008)

As our society becomes more technologically advanced, it will be more and more important that all girls, not just those interested in science, technology, engineering, and math, take advanced levels of science and math in high school. Evidence suggests that intervention programs can improve girls’ interest in science. This article describes an after-school program model that works.
first page of the book chapter, “Billions of Us” Billions of Us: Scale and Population (Book Chapter, from Extreme Science: From Nano to Galactic, April 2009)

Giving students tools to understand population numbers is important for their understanding of the world and future navigation of social and political subjects. This exercise helps them explore the magnitudes of populations and become familiar with the scales of city, country, and world populations. A related exercise explores the connection between population and energy consumption.
High School Level Resources
opening page for the article, “One Fish, Two Fish” One Fish, Two Fish, Redfish, You Fish! (The Science Teacher, February 2011)

The recreational fishing activity in this article provides a hands-on, problem-based experience for students; it unites biology, math, economics, environmental policy, and population dynamics concepts. The activity makes an abstract topic more personal by allowing students to shape environmental policy in a realistic setting and evaluate their peers’ work.
opening page of the article, “Robotics on Water” Robotics on Water (The Science Teacher, July 2010)

“Engineering Challenge for the 21st Century,” a weeklong teacher workshop, uses project-based learning to help students and teachers build STEM skills. The workshop features the Coast Guard Academy Robotics on Water project, which stimulates teamwork, fosters creativity, and develops practical scientific and engineering aptitude while building robotic crafts. This article describes the teacher workshop, the CGAROW project, and its classroom application.
opening page of the article, “Leaving Their Legacy” Leaving Their Legacy (The Science Teacher, April 2010)

Research Experiences for Teachers (RET), funded by the National Science Foundation, offer teachers an opportunity to participate in current, hands-on scientific research in laboratories across the United States. These experiences provide an avenue for teachers to understand the process of research and gain insight into emerging technologies with the goal of implementing this new knowledge in the classroom.
opening page of the article, “Real Science or Marketing Hype?” Real Science or Marketing Hype? (The Science Teacher, April 2008)

The Center for Nanoscale Chemical-Electrical-Mechanical Manufacturing Systems (Nano-CEMMS) at the University of Illinois, in collaboration with local Champaign-area teachers, has developed classroom activities designed to introduce nanotechnology to secondary students. This article describes a quick, simple, and safe classroom activity in which students make silver nanoparticles and design experiments to test their effectiveness.
opening page of the chapter, “Activity 1” Activity 1: Design Brief (Greenhouse) (Book Chapter from Construct-a-Greenhouse, January 2000)

In this challenge module, students learn how to design and build an engineered environment for growing a giant vegetable. It entails research on what the optimal conditions are for seeds to sprout, for seedlings to thrive, and for the vegetable to grow to maximum size. As a special bonus, this selection features an activity about light absorption and energy conversion.
College Level Resources
opening page of the article “closing the loop” Closing the Loop: Involving Faculty in the Assessment of Scientific and Quantitative Reasoning Skills of Biology Majors (Journal of College Science Teaching, July 2011)

The biology department at James Madison University assesses scientific and quantitative reasoning skills in STEM majors in a content-independent manner. The authors discuss methodology they used to involve faculty in determining the generalizability of the exam to assess the objectives of the biology curriculum and setting standards to interpret student achievement on the exam.
opening page of the article “Beyond Dissemination in College Science Teaching” Beyond Dissemination in College Science Teaching: An Introduction to Four Core Change Strategies (Journal of College Science Teaching, May 2010)

The STEM education community repeatedly calls for the reform of undergraduate teaching, often focusing on developing and disseminating specific instructional ideas and practices. In this article, the authors argue that these efforts need to include more emphasis on faculty involvement in the change process as well as on the environments and structures within which faculty work.
opening page of the article, “Where Are the Women of Color?” Where Are the Women of Color? Data on African American, Hispanic, and Native American Faculty in STEM (Journal of College Science Teaching, March 2010)

If we value diversity and excellence at our institutions, we must consider how we recruit, advance, and retain underrepresented women (URM) faculty and also how we recruit, retain, and graduate the URM students who could one day join us in the faculty ranks.
opening page for the article, “Research and Teaching” Research and Teaching: An Assessment of STEM Faculty Involvement in Reform of Introductory College Courses (Journal of College Science Teaching, July 2010)

Twin strategies of Institutes on the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics and support for faculty through minigrants are shown to be effective in stimulating college science and mathematics faculty to modify their introductory courses to include more active learning strategies.
opening page of the article, “Setting the Stage” Setting the Stage for Good Group Dynamics in Semester-Long Projects in the Sciences (Journal of College Science Teaching, January 2006)

Many studies show students benefit from working cooperatively. Rarely published in STEM literature are guidelines to help educators incorporate research teams in the classroom. We explain how to create a positive learning experience by explaining group dynamics and by using group contracts and team-building activities. We also share templates for evaluating group projects.
Hot Off the Press!
sample chapter from “STEM Student Research Handbook” STEM Student Research Handbook
Free Chapter Available

This comprehensive resource for STEM teachers and students outlines the various stages of large-scale research projects, enabling teachers to coach students through the research process. This handbook provides enough detail to embolden all teachers to support student-researchers through the entire process of conducting experiments. Included are student handouts, checklists, presentation observation sheets, and sample assessment rubrics.

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