NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter April 2010

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

Table of Contents

Don't Leave Accountability Behind: A Call for ESEA Reauthorization

On March 1, the Alliance for Excellent Education and the Aspen Institute's Commission on No Child Left Behind, released a brief that offers four distinct reasons why reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is necessary to support long-term reform and ensure strong accountability for student outcomes and improvement.

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Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

A report released last month by the American Association of University Women with support from the National Science Foundation, looked at existing research and found that social and environmental factors contribute to the underrepresentation of women in the science and engineering fields.

The report also includes up to date statistics on girls' and women's achievement and participation in these areas and offers new ideas for what each of us can do to more fully open scientific and engineering fields to girls and women.

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Sixth Grade Class from Iowa Selected as the National Grand Prize Winner of the Inaugural Disney's Planet Challenge

Congratulations to Mrs. Julie Schnedler and her sixth grade Mediapolis Community School class for being selected as the national grand prize winner of the inaugural Disney's Planet Challenge. Disney's Planet Challenge is a project-based learning environmental competition for 4th–6th grade classrooms.

Mrs. Schnedler's class, located in a small rural community in Iowa, focused on saving the Northern Bobwhite Quail population for their project. The waning quail population—due to harsh weather and decreased prairie land—is a significant environmental issue facing Des Moines County. To restore their natural habitat, students collected information through computer research and field work. With the help of community members, the class restored acres of existing conservation space in Luckenbill Woods by conducting a controlled burn to prepare the land and replanting native vegetation, which will benefit local quails, promote diversity of wildlife and help to control soil erosion. Mrs. Schnedler's class will be honored in a recognition ceremony and parade at Disneyland® on May 7th, 2010 and featured on Disney Channel as youth environmental leaders.

Disney's Planet Challenge was developed in collaboration with the National Science Teachers Association and WestEd K–12 Alliance. To learn more about the program or the 2010 grand prize winners, visit www.disney.com/planetchallenge.

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U.S. Science & Engineering Festival

The inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival will be the country's first national science festival and will descend on the Washington, D.C., area in the fall of 2010. The Festival promises to be the ultimate multi-cultural, multigenerational and multidisciplinary celebration of science in the United States. The culmination of the Festival will be a two-day Expo in the nation's capital that will give over 500 science and engineering organizations from all over the United States the opportunity to present themselves with a hands-on, fun science activity to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

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Teacher Resources

Curriculum: The History of Environmental Education

The Earth Day Network recently releases a new curriculum unit for the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day (April 22). The curriculum is a comprehensive study of the history of the environmental movement, complete with standards-based lesson plans and multimedia resources.

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Teacher Education, Professional Development, and Grant and Award Opportunities

ASM Materials Education Foundation Teacher Grants

To help teachers bring the "real world" of materials science into the classroom, the American Society for Metals (ASM) Materials Education Foundation is awarding ten $500 grants to K–12 teachers. The purpose of these grants is to enhance awareness of materials science and the role of materials scientists in society. The deadline for submissions is May 25, 2010. For more information, visit the ASM website.

Bronx Zoo Teaching Fellowships

The Bronx Zoo Education Department's Teaching Fellowship program is a unique opportunity for college students, recent graduates, and graduate students to explore conservation education in-depth. Fellows acquire the skills needed to provide a wildlife classroom that invites and fosters student-directed learning, and learn pertinent information about conservation issues with a global impact. Particular emphasis is placed on the Wildlife Conservation Society's efforts to protect wildlife and wild lands.

Two fellowship terms are available:

School term—starts mid-September and runs through mid-June; fellows must be available to work four weekdays each week, 9:00 a.m.– 2:30 p.m. Additional weekend and overnight hours are also required. School year fellows must have a valid driver's license.

Summer term—starts mid-June and runs for eleven weeks; fellows must be able to work Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. for all eleven weeks.

To apply, please go to the website and follow instructions for the online application system. For questions about the Bronx Zoo Teaching Fellowship, contact wcsteachingfellow@wcs.org.

2010 AAAS Leadership in Science Education Prize for High School Teachers

Calling all U.S. high school science department chairs and administrators: It’s time to nominate teachers for the 2010 AAAS Leadership in Science Education Prize for High School Teachers. The $1,000 prize honors a high school science teacher who has advanced science education by developing and implementing an effective strategy, activity, or program. Once nominated, the teacher must complete and submit to the nominator an application to be considered for the prize. The nominator is responsible for e-mailing or mailing the completed package to AAAS by the deadline date. Applications for the 2010 AAAS Leadership in Science Education Prize must be received no later than May 21, 2010. For more information or to download the nomination or application forms, visit the AAAS website.

Dominion Foundation Educational Partnership Grants

The Dominion Foundation offers three grants to encourage the development of K–12 math and science programs: $1,000 mini grants to enhance the teaching of math and science; $1,001–$5,000 grants for projects that focus on increasing parental involvement, test scores, and environmental education; and $5,001–$10,000 grants to increase students' awareness of energy conservation and energy sources.

Successful grant proposals should represent innovative and promising ideas, teach math or science skills, reach a significant number of students, and demonstrate broad-based community support. Eligible participants must reside in one of 10 specified geographic areas within Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. Applications are due no later than 5:00 p.m. on May 1, 2010. For more information, visit the Dominion Foundation website.

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Student Science Competitions

Discovery Education's Young Scientist Challenge, Student Edition

The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge is now accepting entries for the 2010 competition. The Young Scientist Challenge is designed to encourage the exploration of science and innovation among America's youth (students in grades 5 through 8) and to promote the importance of science communication. To enter, simply send a video about the science of everyday life. This year's video topics focus on the science of safety and security. The grand prize winner will receive $50,000 in U.S. savings bonds ($25,000 cash value) and a trip to 3M's World Headquarters in St. Paul, MN. Video entries are due May 27, 2010. For more information about the Challenge or to learn how to apply, visit the Young Scientist Challenge website.

The Green Aviation Student Challenge (High School)

The Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) project of the Integrated Systems Research Program, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate at NASA, invites students to propose ideas and designs for future aircraft that use less fuel, produce less harmful emissions, and make less noise. Students are asked to submit a well-documented paper and a short video to explain their ideas. The ERA project intends to reward top-scoring students by airing their videos on NASA websites, and students may win a trip to an aviation event. To learn more visit, the ERA project website.

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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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