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Week of May 27, 2013

Table of Contents


Britannica Digital Learning

Rhode Island is First State to Adopt the Next Generation Science Standards

Rhode Island has become the first state to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) after a unanimous vote on May 23 by the members of the state’s Board of Education.

"Rhode Island is proud to be the first to forge a new path for science education as both a leading state in the development and the first state to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards," said Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist. "The new standards will make sure our students are exposed to rigorous science content and that they learn critical and contextual thinking skills needed to be prepared for college, career and life in the 21st century global economy."

The NGSS establish educational goals that can give K–12 students the skills and knowledge they need to be informed citizens, college ready, and prepared for STEM careers.

The standards are voluntary and were developed with the leadership of 26 states—including Rhode Island—that chose to be a central part of the development process and who pledged to give serious consideration to adopting them. NSTA was a partner in the development process and supports their adoption nationwide.

In other NGSS news, on June 13 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET, Education Week will host a web seminar featuring a state and a district official as they explore the changes in science education envisioned by the new standards and what they will mean from the state and district levels down to the classroom. Presenters include Alan King, curriculum director, Kansas City School District, and Peter McLaren, science and technology specialist, Rhode Island Department of Education. To register, click here.

NSTA continues its series of web seminars on NGSS crosscutting concepts. All seminars will be held from 6:30 to 8:00 pm ET.

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Knowing Student Misconceptions is Key to Science Teaching and Learning

As part of an unusual study, Philip Sadler, the Frances W. Wright Senior Lecturer in the Department of Astronomy at Harvard University, and colleagues tested 181 middle school physical science teachers and nearly 10,000 of their students, and showed that while most of the teachers were well-versed in their subject, those better able to predict their students' wrong answers on standardized tests helped students learn the most.

Want to learn more on this subject? Page Keeley’s Uncovering Student Ideas in Science series (available from NSTA Press) gives teachers formative assessment probes designed to reveal students’ existing ideas and misconceptions about science topics. When teachers know what students are thinking, they can better tailor lessons to help students move from their current ideas to deeper understanding of science concepts.

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Reminder: Planned NSTA Website Outage: May 29–June 3

The NSTA website will be out of service from Wednesday, May 29, at 9 a.m. EDT until 9 a.m. Monday, June 3, as we migrate to a new data management system.

NSTA Legislative Update

NSTA was one of 110 groups that signed a letter to Congressman Lamar Smith, Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space & Technology, expressing concern about recent Congressional actions focused on the National Science Foundation’s merit review process for awarding research grants.

Also last week, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee approved the comprehensive immigration bill (S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act) that included an amendment providing up to  $100 million annually for the Department of Education to fund K–12 STEM education in the states. This is in addition to language already included in the base bill that would provide roughly $100 million to $150 million in extra funding for STEM education at the National Science Foundation. The bill is expected to go to the Senate floor for debate in June and similar legislation is expected to be introduced in the House. Read more »

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Major STEM Opportunity: Student Spaceflight Experiments Program—Mission 5 to the International Space Station

The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education, and NanoRacks announce Mission 5 to the International Space Station. This STEM education opportunity immerses students in grades 5–14 across a community in authentic, high-visibility research, with the ability to design and propose real experiments to fly in low Earth orbit on the International Space Station.

Each participating community will be provided a real microgravity research mini-laboratory capable of supporting a single experiment, and all launch services to fly it to the Space Station in spring 2014. A nine-week experiment design competition in each community typically engages 300 students, allowing student teams to design and formally propose real experiments vying for their community's reserved mini-lab on Space Station. Content resources for teachers and students support foundational instruction on science in microgravity and experimental design. Additional programming leverages the experiment design competition to engage the community, embracing a Learning Community Model for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education.

All interested communities are asked to inquire by June 30, 2013; schools and districts need to assess interest with their staff and, if appropriate, move forward with an Implementation Plan. Communities must be aboard by September 4, 2013, for the nine-week experiment design phase (September 9 to November 11, 2013) and flight experiment selection by December 12, 2013.

Contact: 301-395-0770 or ssep@ncesse.org.

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Lab Out Loud Takes a Close Look at a Microscope Camera

For Lab Out Loud's final episode of the season, hosts Brian Bartel and Dale Basler talk with Exo Labs CTO and co-founder Jeff Stewart. As a new startup in science education, Exo Labs recently released their Focus microscope camera and iPad app. Replacing the eyepiece on any standard microscope, the Focus camera streams a high-quality image to the iPad screen, where it can be recorded and shared. Stewart talks about the Focus camera, its use in classrooms and engineering applications, and how you can help support their Kickstarter effort.

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President Obama Announces Sally Ride as a Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Last week President Obama announced he will award a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to Dr. Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut to travel to space.

In a press release, President Obama said: “We remember Sally Ride not just as a national hero, but as a role model to generations of young women. Sally inspired us to reach for the stars, and she advocated for a greater focus on the science, technology, engineering and math that would help us get there. Sally showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve.”

The Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. Read more »

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Master's Degree for Science Educators—Montana State University, Bozeman

The Master of Science in Science Education (MSSE) degree program is designed exclusively for science educators to improve science content knowledge with courses that offer science content and innovative teaching strategies specific to each science discipline. Students choose from a large variety of online and summer field courses across all science subjects of interest. Eighty percent of the program is delivered at a distance to allow teachers to continue to work as they pursue an advanced degree. Unique program characteristics make this program especially appealing to both traditional and nontraditional science educators.

Reminder: Summer registration is still open for a variety of exceptional science field and online courses!
Summer field course opportunities to consider:

  • BIOL 591 Alpine Ecology
  • BIOE 522 Birds of Prey
  • LRES 591 Yellowstone Lake Ecology

Examples of online summer courses offered:

  • CHMY 591 Exploring Biochemistry II: Metabolism
  • MB 541 Microbial Genetics
  • EDCI 537 Contemporary Issues in Science Education

For additional information on the MSSE degree program and a complete list of summer course offerings, please visit www.montana.edu/msse.

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