NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter June 2009

Here are your science education resources and announcements for June 2009 provided by the Science Matters Network. These science education highlights are directed to Key Leaders and Points of Contact. Please forward them on to other science educators in your school.

Table of Contents

Encouraging Parental Involvement in Education

The May issue of District Administration magazine includes a lengthy article about how important it is for parents to be actively involved in their children’s education and learning.

“The nation’s schools must improve education for all children, but schools cannot do this alone,” says Joyce L. Epstein, director of the Center on School, Family and Community Partnerships at Johns Hopkins University. “More will be accomplished if schools, families and communities work together to promote successful students.”

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Survey Finds Dads Significantly More Engaged in Child’s Education

According to a new report released this month by the National Center for Fathering and the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), fathers are more involved in their child’s education than they were 10 years ago. The report shows double-digit gains in the percentage of dads who are taking their child to school, visiting their classroom, and attending school events.

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New Practice Guide for Educators from the What Works Clearinghouse

A new practice guide from the What Works Clearinghouse, “Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics: Response to Intervention (RtI) for Elementary and Middle Schools,” offers eight recommendations to help educators use RtI for the early detection, prevention, and support of students struggling with this core subject. The guide also describes how to carry out the recommendations, as well as how to overcome potential roadblocks in implementing them. To access the practice guide, visit the What Works Clearinghouse website.

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Earth Science Week 2009 “Understanding Climate” Contests 

The American Geological institute (AGI) is sponsoring three national contests in conjunction with Earth Science Week 2009, “Understanding Climate,” October 11–17. All U.S. residents are encouraged to enter “How Climate Shapes my World” – this year’s Earth Science Week photography contest. Entrants should use their cameras to capture an image that best represents the climate in their local environs.

Students in grades K-5 are eligible to enter the visual arts contest, “The Climate Where I Live.” Submissions should illustrate not only what the climate is like today in your town, but what it was like 100,000 years ago. The essay contest “Climate Connections,” is open to students in grades 6–9. Submissions should focus on how climate interacts with all of the earth systems in their community and how those earth systems in turn influence climate.

To learn more about Earth Science Week and these contests, visit www.earthsciweek.org/contests.

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New Forest Service Kids-and-Outdoors Website

The U.S. Forest Service has posted a fun new website that encourages young people to get out and explore nature. The site is part of a larger public service announcement campaign that aims to inspire tweens (aged 8-12) and their parents to re-connect with nature. The campaign brings to life the joy and excitement kids have when they discover the wonders of nature, helping create interest in their environment and a lifelong relationship with it.

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Helpful Tools, Tips, and Projects to Pass on to Parents  

PBS Child Development Tracker

What can your child do and what should he/she know about science at any given age? Find out with the PBS Child Development Tracker.  

PBS Parents Field Guide for Little Explorers

When children are allowed to explore the everyday wonders of the world around them, the innocence of childhood lasts a little bit longer. Each day presents an opportunity for a new adventure—from the backyard to the night sky. Help kids explore their world with the ideas in this downloadable field guide.


Students in grades 9–12 and their parents or legal guardians are encouraged to apply for NASA’s Interdisciplinary National Science Project Incorporating Research and Education Experience (INSPIRE), a multitiered year-round program that provides grade-appropriate, NASA-related resources and experiences to encourage and reinforce students’ aspirations to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and careers.

For more information about the INSPIRE program or to learn how to apply, visit the INSPIRE website. If you have questions, e-mail Steve Chance at steven.h.chance@nasa.gov . Applications must be submitted no later than June 30, 2009 to be considered.

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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, fifteen 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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Science Matters is Taking a Break

The Science Matters e-newsletter will not be published in July, but will return in August. Have a great summer!

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