NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter January 2010

Here are your science education resources and announcements for January 2010 provided by the Science Matters Network. Please forward them on to other science educators in your school and/or school district.

Table of Contents

White House Releases Science And Engineering Indicators 2010 Report

This week, at an event at the White House, the National Science Board released its Science and Engineering Indicators 2010 report. According to the report, produced every two years, the state of U.S. science and engineering is still strong, but our nation’s global primacy in science and engineering has significantly dropped in recent years, largely because of rapidly increasing capabilities among East Asian nations, particularly China. The detailed report also presents information about elementary and secondary science and math education, the science and engineering labor force, and public attitudes and understanding about science and technology, among other things.

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Teacher Education, Professional Development, and Grant and Award Opportunities

Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) is the highest recognition that a K–12 mathematics or science teacher can receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. Awards are given to mathematics and science teachers from each of the 50 states and four U.S. territories. Recipients of the award receive a citation signed by the President, a paid trip for two to Washington, D.C. to attend a series of recognition events, professional development opportunities and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.

The 2010 Awards will honor math and science teachers working in grades K–6. Nominations for secondary school teachers, grades 7–12, will be accepted next year. The deadline for nominations is April 1, 2010. The nomination form should be completed early enough to ensure that the nominated teacher is given enough time to thoroughly prepare an application that reflects exemplary teaching prior to the application deadline. Applications are due by May 3, 2010. For more information, visit the PAEMST website.

2010 Atlas Workshops

Looking for a new perspective on science content standards? Sign up for one of Project 2061's popular “Using Atlas of Science Literacy” workshops. You’ll learn how you and your school or district can use Atlas strand maps to improve K–12 science curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Workshops are taking place across the U.S. and in Canada. For details on registration, early-bird discounts, and scholarships, visit the Project 2061 website.

From Seed to Seed

From Seed to Seed is a professional development course presented by the National Gardening Association for K–8 teachers who already incorporate botany and gardening (indoors or out) into their science curriculum and for teachers who would like to start doing so. In addition to the core botanical information, activities and experiments that address K-8 national standards in various disciplines are provided. The course content is divided into two parts: From Seed to Seed and Exploring Plant Topics. The first part follows the life cycle of a plant from seed to seed and lays the foundation for more complex and fascinating topics in plant biology in the second part. Cost is $60. To learn more, go to www.kidsgardening.org.

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Science Education Programs and Resources

National STEM Directory

The Coalition for Science After School and Time Warner Cable have created a national online directory of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning opportunities. Visit the directory's website to add your program to the directory. It will provide a resource for parents and students looking to participate in science-related events in their area.

Better Lesson Teacher Community

At www.betterlesson.org, you’ll find lesson plans and curriculum resources mixed with discussions about teaching and learning—all supported by social networking software designed for professional use. Teachers can create, organize, and share curriculum; connect with others in the field; and search lessons by state standards. The site is currently available in beta-test format, with free registration.

The Forensic Teacher Magazine

Aimed primarily at high school forensic science, chemistry, and biology teachers, the magazine features lesson plans, reproducibles, rubrics, labs, and inquiry-based activities, many of which can be adapted for elementary and middle school levels. The magazine also includes puzzles, mini-mysteries, interviews, and a feature about stupid criminals.

Lessons on Fluid Dynamics

Iridescent, a STEM-oriented nonprofit, brings engineering students and professionals into K–12 classrooms to teach lessons showcasing the possibilities and excitement of engineering careers. Teachers can access a sample curriculum (PDF) on fluid dynamics. The curriculum covers fluids, density, buoyancy, and viscosity; each lesson plan also includes objectives, key concepts and vocabulary, and assessment.

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Student Science Competitions

Register for the 2010 USA Biology Olympiad

The USA Biology Olympiad, jointly sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Education and Purdue University, is the premiere biology competition in the United States. Starting with almost 10,000 registered students from 41 states in 2009, the competition ultimately selects four students as "Team USA" to represent our nation at the International Biology Olympiad. Last year, for the third year in a row, Team USA returned home from the International Biology Olympiad with four gold medals. The team hopes to capitalize on this success in 2010!

Additionally, the USA Biology Olympiad also offers a "Teacher Resource Center" to registered schools to assist teachers. The Teacher Resource Center includes practice exams with answer keys, links to International Biology Olympiad exams, textbook recommendations, links to outside professional development opportunities and study guides, as well as a breakdown of the grading rubric and testing protocol.

The USA Biology Olympiad provides an outstanding forum for aspiring biologists to learn and grow in the discipline through interaction with other likeminded students. Take advantage of this opportunity to challenge your students. The registration deadline is February 3. For additional information, the program schedule and online registration visit www.cee.org. You may also contact Kathy Frame USA Biology Olympiad Director, at kframe@cee.org or 703-448-9062 x231.

Young Epidemiology Scholars (YES) Competition

The YES Competition for original student research is designed to inspire talented students to investigate the many behavioral, biological, environmental, and social factors affecting health and based upon this knowledge, to identify ways to improve the public's health. The competition awards up to 120 college scholarships each year to high school juniors and seniors who conduct outstanding research projects that apply epidemiological methods of analysis to a health-related issue. The deadline to register and upload projects is February 1 at 9 a.m. Eastern. Students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. For more information, visit the YES Competition website.

What If Competition

Calling all 6th, 7th and 8th grade students for an essay competition to win cash prizes! The What If competition challenges students to write an essay about how to help the fictional crew of Space Peace Mission 1 (SPM-1) whose Lunar Module Altair was damaged during landing and stranded the four astronauts onboard! Students can work alone or in teams of two. All teams require an adult sponsor. The grand prize winner will be awarded a $2,000 travel stipend to be used solely for travel to the Conrad Innovation Summit and the creation of a tradeshow display for the team’s entry to be presented at the Innovation Summit. The deadline to register as a team is February 5 and the entry submission deadline is February 19. To learn more about the competition, go to www.whatifprize.org.

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Helpful Tools, Tips, and Projects for Families

SPARK Teaching and Learning Community

The Northwest Evaluation Association’s (NWEA) new online network connects state and district decision makers, legislators, teachers, and parents to discuss research-based educational growth measures and other issues related to improving teaching and learning for every child. Register to join forums, blogs, and other interactive environments. Current topics include the role of federal government in education, differentiated instruction, and gaps in achievement.

Lowe's Toolbox for Education Grant Program

Lowe's will donate $5 million to public schools and public school parent-teacher groups at more than 1,000 U.S. public schools per school year. Maximum award is $5,000. Parent groups at K–12 schools may apply. All K–12 schools in the United States (except Puerto Rico) are eligible. There is a preference for funding requests that have a permanent impact such as facility enhancement (both indoor and outdoor) as well as landscaping/clean up type projects. Projects that encourage parent involvement and build stronger community spirit will be favored. The application deadline is February 12 at 5 p.m. eastern. For more information, visit www.toolboxforeducation.com.

Starry Critters Website

In blog format, this website for children, parents, and educators features colorful imagery from the Hubble and other spacecraft. Users can manipulate images with zoom and pan controls. Children are encouraged to use their imagination to locate patterns in the star clusters, nebulas, and galaxies pictured. Each image is accompanied by a detailed explanation; links to additional space science resources are also included.

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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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