NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter

August 2011

Here are your science education resources and announcements for August 2011 provided by the Science Matters Network. Please forward them on to other science educators in your school and/or school district.

Table of Contents

New U.S. Commerce Department Report Finds There Are Fewer Women than Men in STEM Jobs

There are fewer women than men in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs and attaining degrees in STEM fields according to a new report, Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation, released earlier this month by the U.S. Commerce Department.

According to the report, despite women composing 48 percent of the U.S. workforce, they hold less than 25 percent of all STEM jobs. Sadly, women's underrepresentation in the STEM fields has remained fairly constant over the last 10 years in spite of their share of the college-educated workforce increasing.

The report also found that women with STEM jobs earned 33 percent more than women in non-STEM jobs in 2009, exceeding the 25 percent earnings premium for men in STEM. Women in STEM positions also experience a smaller gender wage gap than their counterparts in other fields.

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National Council on Teacher Quality Release New Report on Student Teaching Programs

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has released a report measuring student teaching programs nationwide. Student Teaching in the United States examines policies and practices at 134 universities and colleges to answer questions like, "Who is mentoring our future teachers?" "Do student teachers receive the feedback they need to improve?" "Does the experience sufficiently replicate the experience of being a teacher?"

In addition to providing a national snapshot of student teaching today and overall ratings of each of the 134 institutions studied, the report includes specific examples of exemplary student teaching practices and recommendations on how all programs can improve.

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NSTA Awarded $3 Million Multiyear Grant from The Dow Chemical Foundation

NSTA is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a $3 million grant from The Dow Chemical Company Foundation. The grant will be used to support the participation of 480 early-career science teachers from Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Texas over a three-year period in the NSTA New Science Teacher Academy.

Intended for science educators entering their second or third year of teaching, the Academy is designed to help promote quality science teaching, enhance teacher confidence and classroom excellence and improve teacher content knowledge. The 480 teachers supported by the grant will be named Dow-NSTA Fellows and will receive year-long professional development that includes a host of science-related activities; online mentoring with trained mentors who teach in the same discipline; a comprehensive NSTA membership package; access to NSTA's vast online Learning Center and electronic, web-based professional development events and opportunities. Additionally, each fellow will receive financial support to attend and participate in NSTA's National Conference on Science Education.

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NSTA Competitions' Announcements

America's Home Energy Education Challenge

NSTA and the U.S. Department of Energy opened registration for America's Home Energy Education Challenge (AHEEC)—a nationwide student contest to help families save money by saving energy at home. AHEEC will engage students in elementary and middle schools to make smarter energy choices that reduce U.S. reliance on fossil fuels and put money back in their parents' pockets. This initiative aims to educate America's youth about the benefits of energy efficiency, motivate students to play a more active role in how their families use energy, and help families across the country reduce their energy bills.

Official registration for the Challenge ends October 7, 2011. Students, teachers, and principals are encouraged to register to participate. Participation in America's Home Energy Education Challenge will be broken into two parts, the Home Energy Challenge and the Energy Fitness Award. Each is designed to encourage students to learn about science and home energy savings. View the website for more details and updates.

The Clean Tech Competition

For middle and high school students, ages 13–18, who attend school in the San Francisco/Bay area—the Clean Tech Competition offers a real-world problem to solve that demonstrates the powerful potential of clean technology. The inaugural year's challenge will involve students in two of the world's most historic centers of innovation—the San Francisco/Bay Area and Xi'an, China. The competition will engage youth of all skill, ability and interest levels in a common challenge to highlight the roles that science and technology and the strategy of design play in solving problems that transcend national boundaries and to help prepare students for success in life.  Teams in each region will compete for $17,000 in cash prizes.

The 2011 challenge posed to students is titled "Solar Solutions to the Rescue." Teams of entrants will design a solar-powered solution to a basic human need identified in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Participants will define a situation, explore the issue, and then present their unique clean tech solution to a panel of industry and education experts for judging. In the process, students will learn valuable scientific literacy skills and be inspired to pursue science and technical fields as potential education and career paths.

How can clean technology save our planet and improve the way people live and work? Take the challenge and find out. Visit the competition website for more information.

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Teacher Education, Professional Development, and Grant and Award Opportunities

GreenWorks! Grants

Project Learning Tree® (PLT), an award-winning national environmental education program for educators and their students in grades preK–12, is providing GreenWorks! grants of up to $1,000 to schools and youth organizations for environmental service-learning projects. GreenWorks! is PLT's service-learning program that encourages students to "learn by doing" through community action projects they design and implement to improve an aspect of their school or their neighborhood's environment. It blends community service with academic curriculum to link classroom learning to the real world. Some examples of past grant projects include energy conservation, habitat restoration, and watershed improvement. To learn more or apply for a grant, visit the program website. The deadline to apply is September 30, 2011.

NASA Endeavor Science Teaching Certificate Project: K–12 Educator Fellowships

The NASA Endeavor Science Teaching Certificate Project awards one-year fellowships each year to up to 50 current and prospective educators. In partnership with state departments of education, Endeavor Fellows take five graduate STEM courses online. They learn to apply research-based pedagogical strategies and STEM content to their classroom contexts. Endeavor Fellows earn and are awarded a NASA Endeavor Certificate in STEM Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. The fellowship begins January 2012. For more information about the program or to learn how to apply, visit www.us-satellite.net/endeavor/about.cfm. Application will be accepted through October 15, 2011.

The Great American Teach-Off

Grammy Award-winning artist John Legend, the online community at GOOD, and The University of Phoenix have teamed up to sponsor a new nationwide contest—The Great American Teach- Off—to recognize the exceptional work of classroom teachers in America.

Log on to the competition website today and nominate an elementary school (K–6) teacher who is making a difference in children's lives. Anyone can nominate a teacher—it can be one you've had, your child's, or even yourself—but you must get your nomination in by September 16. The top 10 entrants will be chosen by an independent panel assembled by the sponsors. All finalists will record videos responding to a short list of questions about their teaching experience, and the GOOD community will vote for one teacher to receive a $10,000 classroom grant. The teacher with the most votes wins!

The contest will take place again in early 2012 for middle school and high school teachers (grades 7–12).

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Teacher Resources

NBC News Education Nation Teacher Town Hall

The second annual NBC News Education Nation Summit will kick off with a live Teacher Town Hall broadcast event on Sunday, September 25 hosted by Brian Williams. The educator-only forum will provide a unique and visible platform for educators from across the country to make their voices heard, brainstorm ideas and solutions for improving education in America, talk about what works in the classroom and discuss the challenges of today's education system.

As hundreds of teachers gather in-person at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, NBC News is also inviting teachers from across the country to join the conversation virtually by registering to take part in the conversation at EducationNation.com. The Teacher Town Hall will offer America's educators on the frontlines an opportunity to voice their priorities, brainstorm new ideas, discuss key policy issues, and ask questions of each other to advance the conversation about teaching in the United States. Registration for this event will be available in early September 2011.

PBS Learning Media

This new digital platform for preK–college educators offers more than 12,000 learning objects to supplement classroom curricula. The standards-aligned resources include videos, documents, images, and activities in mathematics, science, social studies, and other core subjects. With objects as diverse as a video clip exploring measurement with Curious George (K–2) to an audio podcast discussing climate change in Africa (grades 7–college), the website offers pertinent material for a wide audience.

American Chemical Society's "Bytesize Science" Podcasts

The American Chemical Society's (ACS) award-winning kid- and teen-friendly chemistry podcast series features high-definition video episodes. Bytesize Science has received accolades from NSTA, the National Education Association, the National Science Foundation and the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The new Bytesize will reward viewers with a wide variety of topics appealing to people of all ages. The 2011 update includes a new logo and theme ("Uncover the Chemistry All Around You"); shorter episodes that package information in 3–4-minute snippets to better fit fast-paced lifestyles; and a sharpened focus on chemistry's often unrecognized role in everyday life. That focus is on food, energy, the environment, health and a range of other topics.

Download audio and video episodes at www.bytesizescience.com or www.youtube.com/BytesizeScience. New episodes of the video podcasts will be posted the first Wednesday of every month. New episodes of the audio podcast will appear biweekly.

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Student Opportunities and Resources

Science News For Kids

Can lizards learn? Will the Sun's cycle stay the same? What happens to your brain when you talk on a cell phone?

These are just some of life's mysteries that are explored in Science News for Kids (SNK), an award-winning online publication dedicated to children 9–14, their parents, and their teachers. Launched in 2003 by the nonprofit organization Society for Science & the Public (SSP), a USA Science & Engineering Festival partner, Science News for Kids is a youth edition and companion to SSP's Science Newsmagazine.

SNK offers timely, interesting news stories and features, accompanied by suggestions for hands-on activities, books, articles, and web resources. Read stories at www.sciencenewsforkids.org and sign up for the weekly SNK E-Blast.

Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology

In partnership with the College Board, the Siemens Foundation established the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology. The Siemens Competition seeks to promote excellence by encouraging students to undertake individual or team research projects. It fosters intensive research that improves students' understanding of the value of scientific study and informs their consideration of future careers in these disciplines. A student can compete as an individual (must be attending their last year of high school) or as a member of a team (open to students in grades 9–12 only). Individual projects promote independent research. Team projects foster collaborative research efforts, as well as individual contributions to the cooperative endeavor. Scholarships for winning projects range from $1,000 to $100,000. For more information, visit the competition 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 at www.nsta.org/sciencematters.

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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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