NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter July 2010

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

Table of Contents

National Research Council Releases Draft Framework for New Science Education Standards

The National Research Council (NRC) Board on Science Education has released a draft conceptual framework for new science education standards. The framework lays the foundation for what core science ideas, cross-cutting concepts, and scientific practices all students need to succeed in science, and is the first major step in the development of the next generation of science standards.

The draft framework is open for comments from the science education community and other key stakeholders. The public review period will end on August 2.

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Census Report: How the Public Pays for its Schools

Public school systems spent an average of $10,259 per pupil in 2008—a 6.1 percent increase over the previous year, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. The report notes that public education is the largest single category of state and local government expenditures. From all sources, public school systems received $582.1 billion in funding in 2008, the report says, but spent $593.2 billion.

The biggest spenders, on a per pupil basis, were: New York ($17,173); New Jersey (16,491); Alaska ($14,630); the District of Columbia ($14,594); and Vermont ($14,300.) At the other end of the scale were: Utah ($5,765); Idaho ($6,931); Arizona ($7,608); Oklahoma ($7,685); and Tennessee ($7,739).

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Teacher Resources

Upcoming AAAS Project 2061 PD Opportunities in August & September: “Using Atlas of Science Literacy” Workshop

Do you want to learn more about AAAS's Atlas of Science Literacy, Vol. 1 & 2 and how to put it to use to improve curriculum, instruction, and assessment? AAAS Project 2061 is offering its popular professional development workshop "Using Atlas of Science Literacy" in Lebanon, New Hampshire, August 16–18 (scholarship application deadline is July 9), and Calgary, Canada, September 8–10 (scholarship application deadline is July 23). Developed by AAAS Project 2061, the two-volume Atlas of Science Literacy contains 100 strand maps that present conceptual connections among the ideas and skills that all students should learn as they make progress toward science literacy. The workshop gives participants a new perspective on standards-based reform based on understanding the maps, clarifying standards, changing classroom practice, and improving curriculum. The Atlas of Science Literacy is copublished by AAAS and NSTA.

The fall schedule includes workshops at the University of Missouri, Washington, DC, New York City, and Connecticut. For details on all upcoming workshops, go to the Project 2061 website.

Sample Chapters from NSTA Press®

NSTA's publishing arm, NSTA Press®, has a new web page with sample chapters and activities from nearly 20 of their most popular book titles, among them The Frugal Science Teacher, PreK–5: Strategies and Activities; Earth Science Success: 50 Lesson Plans for Grades 6–9; and Extreme Science: From Nano to Galactic. The web page offers materials for teachers throughout the K–12 spectrum; topics span the science disciplines, from force and motion to Earth's changing climate.

Live Insect Activities

The University of Arizona's Center for Insect Science has released 20 integrated science and math lessons for K–3 students that use live insects to introduce health topics and develop science process skills. In “Food to Grow On,” for example, students observe, predict, and record food consumption and growth of insects through experimentation with caterpillar diets and relate their findings to their own growth and diet. Information Sheets, Rearing Sheets, and a Bibliography are included.

Tsunami Education Resource Kit (TERK)

NOAA has collected online educational resources on tsunamis for use in K–12 classrooms. They include curricula, age-appropriate online textbooks and teacher’s guides, brochures, websites, hands-on activities, and visualizations that can supplement an existing curricula and help students understand the science behind tsunami waves. In a highlighted activity, Su Na Meter, students in grades 3–8 make a simulated tsunameter from construction paper to understand the difference between low and high tides and a tsunami wave.

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Teacher Education, Professional Development, and Grant and Award Opportunities

ASCD's Outstanding Young Educator Award

The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development is seeking nominations for its award recognizing a K-12 teacher younger than age 40 who demonstrates excellence in his or her profession, a positive impact on students, creativity in the classroom, and leadership in his or her school or district. No self-nominations accepted. To learn more about the award or nominate a colleague, visit the ASCD website. The deadline to submit a nomination is August 1, 2010.

Fulbright Scholar Program

U.S. faculty and professionals are invited to apply for the 2011–12 round of grants. The traditional Fulbright Scholar Program sends 800 U.S. faculty and professionals abroad each year. Grantees lecture and conduct research in a wide variety of academic and professional fields. The deadline for applications is August 3, 2010. To learn more about the program or how to apply, visit this website.

2010 LEGO Smart Creativity Contest

LEGO Education is inviting K–12 teachers and home educators from across the United States to register as contestants for the 2010 LEGO Smart Creativity Contest, challenging classrooms coast to coast to become LEGO Smart. The 2010 LEGO Smart Creativity Contest requires the use of a LEGO Smart kit, which are available free of charge, to all new and qualified contestants. For more information, go to the LEGO education 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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