NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter September 2009

Here are your science education resources and announcements for September 2009 provided by the Science Matters Network. Please forward them on to other science educators in your school and/or school district.

Table of Contents

The Federal Role in Out-of-School Learning: After-School, Summer Learning, and Family Involvement as Critical Learning Supports

The Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) released a report that reviews the research on out-of-school learning and its implication for federal education policy. Their framework of complementary learning links school and out-of-school support so they complement and reinforce a child's development and education. Commissioned by the Center for Education Policy (CEP) as part of a series of 11 papers on “Rethinking the Federal Role in Elementary and Secondary Education,” the report was presented at a forum on Capitol Hill.

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The Economy's Impact on Parent Involvement

A new poll of K–12 parents shows that the recession may have a silver lining for schools. 64 percent of parents believe that because of the recession, it is more important to volunteer at school. It is estimated that schools will see a 20 percent increase in parent involvement over the previous year.

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Family Feedback Aids Instruction

A two-page research brief (PDF) from the University of California’s Center for Research on Education, Diversity and Excellence describes the results of an examination of the importance of parent-child conversations in assessing what children are learning at school and adjusting classroom instruction accordingly.

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Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge

The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge is now accepting entries for the 2009–2010 competition. The second year of this national sustainability challenge—now expanded to include elementary school students—encourages students in kindergarten through eighth grade to team up with their classmates to create replicable solutions to environmental issues in their classroom (grades K–2), school (grades 3–5) and community (grades 6–8). Student and teacher/mentor prizes, which vary according to grade level, include savings bonds, school grants, exciting trips, TV appearances and much more.

The deadline for elementary level entries is January 31, 2010 (finalists and winners to be announced March 10, 2010); and the deadline for middle school entries is March 15, 2010 (state winners to be announced April 26, 2010, and national winners to be announced May 10, 2010). For more information about the Challenge or to register for the competition, visit www.wecanchange.com.

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PBS Series, Sid the Science Kid

Produced by The Jim Henson Company in partnership with KCET, this PBS Kids series encourages preschoolers to explore the foundations of science in everyday occurrences, such as melting popsicles and sneezing. In the series' sketch-comedy format, Sid, an inquisitive youngster, tackles the everyday ideas that preschoolers find fascinating (Why do bananas go "bad"? Why do my shoes seem to shrink? How does a bird fly without a plane?).Check out the series website at pbskids.org/sid for video clips, printables, information for parents and teachers, and science activities, along with a new online game, focusing on weather and learning.

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

A Sightseer's Guide to Engineering

Many sights around the country can help children and families learn about engineering. Places such as Hoover Dam, the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Thomas Edison’s Birthplace, Museums of Ceramics or Aeronautics, roller coasters and other sights can be both educational and fun. For sights in your area or to help you plan a road trip, visit A Sightseer's Guide to Engineering, created by the National Society of Professional Engineers.

Green Hour Website for Getting Kids Outdoors

To give parents and caregivers the information, tools and inspiration to get their kids outside, the National Wildlife Federation has created www.greenhour.org, a website rich in family-friendly content and a supportive virtual community where families can learn, explore and share their outdoor experiences and backyard adventures. The site’s blog also has a section for educators and a locator for local, state and national parks.

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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, 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.

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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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