NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter January 2011

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

Table of Contents

President Obama Signs America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 into Law

Last week, President Obama signed the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 into law (H.R. 5116), which reauthorizes various programs intended to strengthen research and education in the United States related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The Senate approved the bill last month by unanimous consent. In the House, the final plan was passed by a vote of 228-130. The legislation was one of 35 bills signed into law.

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School Reform: A Chance for Bipartisan Governing

Check out Secretary Arne Duncan’s latest commentary featured in the January 3 issue of The Washington Post. The article focuses on Secretary Duncan’s thoughts about the revision and reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

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Teacher Education, Professional Development, and Grant and Award Opportunities

Classroom Earth 2011 Professional Development Grants

Interested in enhancing your understanding of the living world and learning to teach about wildlife conservation in your subject area? Classroom Earth is supporting middle and high school teachers around the country who are eager to make wildlife conservation part of their curriculum. Classroom Earth's 2011 Professional Development Grants will enable applicants to take one six-week online course offered by the Wildlife Conservation Society to create a strong foundation in wildlife conservation. Participating teachers will be better equipped to bring wildlife conservation into the classroom, facilitate scientific learning and to connect students with their natural surroundings. This Classroom Earth grant opportunity will also support teachers to earn graduate level credit. The deadline is February 1, 2011. Apply for a Classroom Earth Professional Development Grant today, visit www.classroomearth.org/2011wcgrants.

Green Prize in Public Education

Applications are now being accepted for the Green Prize in Public Education. The National Environmental Education Foundation, with major support from the National Education Association Foundation and in partnership with EarthEcho International, invites public schools across the United States to demonstrate how they have successfully taken on the challenge of becoming a green school in an innovative, sustainable and replicable way.

Schoolwide greening efforts can take many forms. Schools can go green academically, through daily operations or through greening facilities and grounds. The key qualities that all outstanding green schools share is that students, educators, the school and local community are all involved in and benefited by the greening process. Green school applicants should also demonstrate a vision for how they will continue their greening efforts in the future.

K–12 public schools are eligible to apply. The winning school will receive an award of $10,000 and two schools will win $5,000 merit awards to further their greening efforts. Applications are due February 15, 2011.

Fund for Teachers

Fund for Teachers awards fellowships for self-designed professional growth to preK–12 teachers who recognize the value of inquiry, the power of knowledge, and their ability to make a difference. The fellowship application asks teachers to thoughtfully consider not only what objective they’d like to pursue, but also why, and how they foresee the proposed experience making a difference for them as teachers, for their students, and for their school community. Applications are due January 28, 2011.

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Teacher Resources

Climate Kids: NASA's Eyes on the Earth

Climate Kids is a website designed by NASA to provide kids with information about climate change in a fun and easy to understand way. The website includes games, educator resources, short movies and information on green careers, green technologies, climate phenomena and other points of interest.

TV Show "Fringe" and the Science Olympiad

FoxTV and Science Olympiad have collaborated on lesson plans for students in grades 9–12 that mix the science of the television series, “Fringe” with Science Olympiad events. The lessons can be incorporated as special projects tied to curriculum or as Friday brain teasers. Each lesson includes learning objectives, online resources, a hands-on activity, extensions, relevant episode scenes, and alignment to national science standards. Topics addressed include communicable diseases, information encoding, and fossilization.

Science360 News Service

NSF’s Science360 News Service presents breaking science news from around the world. The website compiles news from scientists, college and university press offices, popular and peer-reviewed journals, various NSF science and engineering centers, and other funding sources. It also features a science picture of the day, video and radio broadcasts of the day, and a section highlighting “what the blogs are saying today.”

Hurricanes: Science and Society

This comprehensive website from The University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography offers information about the science of hurricanes and how to lessen their impacts. In addition to in-depth, peer-reviewed science content, it includes case studies and a historical storm interactive. Information is tailored to middle school through undergraduate educators and students, the general public, and the media.

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Student Science Competitions and Grants

Staples Urban Environment Challenge

The Staples Foundation for Learning and Earth Force invite students in grades 5-9 to share their creative, youth-led solutions to climate change through a service learning project in their urban community. Projects must involve 10 or more students and 60 percent of the student population must qualify for free or reduced lunch. Students in the San Diego, Seattle, Las Vegas, Denver, Chicago, Boston, New York City, Charlotte, Atlanta and Dallas metro areas are eligible to compete. One winner in each region will receive a $1,000 technology and supplies packages. Two runners up in each region will receive $500 packages. The registration deadline in January 31 and projects are due on Earth Day, April 22. For more information, visit the Earth Force website.

The Volvo Competition

The Volvo Adventure is an educational program for students between the ages of 13 and 16 working in teams to design and manage an environmental project in their local community. Projects can be submitted online. The best projects are selected for an all expenses-paid trip to Sweden, and the winning teams will receive $10,000 for first place, $6,000 for second place and $4,000 for third place. The deadline for submission is January 31.

Google Science Fair

Google has partnered with NASA, CERN, National Geographic, Scientific American, and the LEGO Group to create the Google Science Fair—a STEM competition. The Google Science Fair is a global competition that any student aged 13 to 18 is eligible to enter. Students can enter as individuals or teams of up to three. There is no entry fee and registration and submission will happen online. The Science Fair will culminate in a celebratory event at Google headquarters in California in July 2011, where finalists will compete for internships, scholarships, and prizes in front of a panel of celebrity scientist judges including Nobel Laureates and household names. The competition deadline is April 4, 2011.

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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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