NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter February 2011

Here are your science education resources and announcements for February 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 Unveils His 2012 Budget Proposal

Earlier this week, President Obama traveled to Parkville Middle School and Center for Technology in Baltimore to unveil his fiscal year 2012 budget proposal (PDF). Among other things, the proposal seeks new money for teacher training, research, and early-childhood education; and a continuation of the Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation grant programs. Additionally, the President is seeking $48.8 billion in discretionary money for the Department of Education.

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Study: Most High School Biology Teachers Don't Endorse Evolution

According to a new study recently released, most high school biology teachers are reluctant to endorse evolution in class. About 13 percent of biology teachers “explicitly advocate creationism or intelligent design by spending at least one hour of class time presenting it in a positive light.” The rest, about 60 percent, “fail to explain the nature of scientific inquiry, undermine the authority of established experts, and legitimize creationist arguments.”

The research was conducted by Penn State political science professors Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer and published in the newest issue of Science magazine. They examined data from the National Survey of High School Biology Teachers, a representative sample of 926 public high school biology instructors, to reach their conclusions.

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2009 National Assessment of Education Progress

The science results of the 2009 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) were released at the end of January. The results revealed that only 34 percent of the nation’s fourth graders, 30 percent of eighth graders and 21 percent of twelfth graders are performing at or above the proficiency level. Less than one-half of students are demonstrating solid academic performance in science.

  • Read NSTA’s official response to the science results of the 2009 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) here.

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National Teach Ag Day

National Teach Ag Day (March 24, 2011), sponsored by the National Association of Agricultural Educators, is a campaign to encourage agricultural education advocates, especially current agricultural educators (middle school, high school, postsecondary, preservice programs, etc.) to share with others the great career opportunities in agricultural education and encourage them to consider careers as agricultural educators.  It is also a day to recognize the contributions of current agricultural educators. Visit the website for interactive games, lesson plans, and activities, designed for middle level, high school, and university students.

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Teacher Education, Professional Development, and Grant and Award Opportunities

Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

The National Science Foundation is currently accepting nominations and applications for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) program. The 2011 PAEMST will award U.S. mathematics or science teachers in grades 7–12. Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education. Presidential awardees receive a citation signed by the President of the United States, a trip for two to Washington DC to attend a series of recognition events, professional development opportunities, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation. The deadline for nominations is April 1, 2011 and applications are due May 2, 2011.

AAAS Leadership in Science Education Prize for High School Teachers

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Leadership in Science Education Prize for High School Teachers recognizes high school science teachers for the development and implementation of innovative methods for teaching and encouraging the next generation of scientists. Teachers must be currently employed as a science instructor in a public or private school for grades 9–12 in the United States or its territories. Teachers must be nominated by an administrator within their school, district or state. The winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize to support the development and continuation of the strategy, activity or program. Additionally, an announcement will be published in the AAAS website and in Science magazine and the winner will receive a one-year institutional subscription to Science magazine. Application deadline is May 27, 2011.

Gulf of Mexico Foundation Teacher Training Expeditions

The Gulf of Mexico Foundation offers two teacher training expeditions sponsored by ConocoPhillips for K–12 and college-entry educators nationwide every year, "Intracoastal Waterway Wetlands Expedition" and "Down Under, Out Yonder." Participants must pay a $100 refundable deposit to take the course and are responsible for transportation, room and board. Continuing Professional Education credits are provided. Visit the Gulf of Mexico Foundation website to learn more.

CEDAM Scholarship Provides Funding for an Educator to Join REEF on Roatan Field Survey Trip

REEF is pleased to announce that one space on the 2011 Roatan Field Survey Trip will be held for a dive-certified educator to participate in underwater fish surveys of various dive sites within the Roatan Marine Park. Conservation, Education, Diving, Awareness, and Marine-research (CEDAM) is sponsoring the Lloyd Brides Scholarship that will fund this unique opportunity.

Both elementary-and secondary-level teachers and those employed by an agency, aquarium, or non-profit organization whose primary position is education are eligible for the scholarship. Applicants must hold open-water scuba certification or higher and are required to submit an essay as part of the application. Applications are due May 1, 2011. For more information or to apply for the Lloyd Bridges Scholarship, visit www.cedam.org.

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Teacher Resources

Explore the Blue

This educational program for elementary students from Take Me Fishing and Discovery Education promotes environmental stewardship and the value of clean and healthy waterways. At this program website, you’ll find lesson plans for grades K–2 and 3–5, videos, contest opportunities, family activities, and interactive student games. The downloadable Field Investigations Guide offers tips on posing an investigation question; collecting, organizing, and analyzing data; and writing conclusions.

NOAA's New Education Portal

NOAA has updated its primary education resource portal. This website connects visitors to lesson plans, educational multimedia, data sources, career profiles, and other education content from across the agency. The site’s scientifically accurate, reviewed content centers on five areas: Oceans and Coasts; Climate; Weather and Atmosphere; Marine Life; and Freshwater. Each offers topically organized collections that support common teaching topics and align with state and national science education standards. The site also provides information on professional development, academic scholarships, career exploration, and education grants.

Virtual Skies

This interactive program for high school students introduces key aviation concepts in six independent modules: Aeronautics, Navigation, Weather, Air Traffic Management, Communications, and Airport Design. The comprehensive, interdisciplinary science and math modules can be used as stand-alone lessons or in combination for a longer study. Each module provides opportunities for students to learn, practice, and apply their understandings, and quiz themselves for mastery. Teacher’s Desk offers a useful overview of all the modules.

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Student Science Competitions and Grants

Samsung Scholarship Program

High school students interested in applying for the Samsung scholarship should submit up to a 300-word essay answering the question: “Is technology critical to a live presentation? Or is it just a crutch?” The papers will be judged by an independent panel based on original thinking, relevance to the real world, and writing quality. High school students in the United States must have a teacher to sponsor them and grant Samsung permission to use their photo and essay in publicity efforts. A total of ten $1,000 scholarships will be awarded. Submissions are due midnight, April 30, 2011. For more information about the scholarship, visit the competition web page.

Redesigning Our Future: National Youth Environmental Summit

This environmental summit for high school juniors and seniors blends environmental thinking and leadership skills with a student’s area of interest. Students will be empowered to become more effective environmental leaders by applying the knowledge and skills they learn directly to their interests and passions during the summit and in their communities when they return home. As a summit participant, students will learn skills on how to be a catalyst for change, how to get others involved, how to plan projects, and how to get support for those projects. The summit will take place at Catawba College in North Carolina. Only 200 students will be accepted, so apply early. Full and partial scholarships are available.

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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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