NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter

October 2011

Here are your science education resources and announcements for October 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

ESEA Draft Legislation Includes Strong STEM Provisions

Last week, Senate leaders released the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill, which incorporates the STEM legislation introduced by Senators Merkley, Begich, Casey, Gillibrand, and Franken earlier this month to improve STEM education.

The draft bill from Sen. Harkin outlines four key goals for the STEM program:

  • Improving instruction in STEM subjects through grade 12;
  • Improving student engagement in and their access to STEM courses;
  • Improving the quality of STEM teachers by recruiting and training new teachers as well as improving existing teachers;
  • Closing the achievement gap between minority and white students and preparing more students for college in STEM subjects.

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New National Initiative to Promote Teaching Evolution Across Life Sciences

On October 25-26, 2011, the National Research Council’s Board on Life Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences will hold a meeting at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. that will launch a national initiative to infuse evolutionary science into introductory college courses in the life sciences and upper-level biology courses in high schools across the United States. The meeting titled, “Thinking Evolutionarily: Evolution Education Across the Life Sciences,” will feature invited speakers and panelists, and participant discussion sessions.

This event will enable educational leaders, members of professional scientific societies, and members of other scientific and science education organizations to develop a strategic plan that will develop a national database of resources from disciplines across the life sciences to help faculty make evolutionary science a central focus of introductory biology survey courses and other courses across the life sciences curriculum. Click here for more information

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Congratulations to the 2011 NSTA New Science Teacher Academy Fellows

NSTA, in collaboration with The Dow Chemical Company Foundation, Amgen Foundation; Astellas Pharma US, Inc.; and the American Honda Foundation, announced the 220 middle and secondary science teachers from across the country who will take part as Fellows in the 2011 NSTA New Science Teacher Academy.

For this academic year, The Dow Chemical Company Foundation, the primary sponsor of the program, will fund the participation of 160 science teachers as Dow-NSTA Fellows. The Amgen Foundation will support 39 science teachers as Amgen-NSTA Fellow and Astellas will support 14 science teachers primarily from the Chicago area as Astellas-NSTA Fellows. The Honda Foundation will support seven middle school science teachers as Honda-NSTA Fellows.

Representing 34 states and the District of Columbia, the 2011 fellows will receive a comprehensive NSTA membership package, online mentoring with trained mentors who teach in the same discipline, and the opportunity to participate in a variety of web-based professional development activities, including web seminars. In addition, each Fellow will receive financial support to attend and participate in NSTA’s 2012 National Conference on Science Education in Indianapolis.

Click here for a complete list of the 2011 Fellows or to learn more about the program.

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Teacher Education, Professional Development, and Grant and Award Opportunities

Nominate Your Best 3rd–5th Grade Teacher for the 2012 Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy by Oct. 31

Applications are due for the 2012 Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy by the end of the month. The Academy is an intense five-day professional development program created to help t hird- through fifth-grade teachers learn new ways to inspire their students in math and science. Visit www.SendMyTeacher.com for more information.

NOAA Teacher At Sea Program

Have you ever thought about shipping out to sea? This National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association program is accepting applications for the 2012 field season. The program provides a unique environment for learning and teaching by sending kindergarten through college teachers to sea aboard NOAA research and survey ships to work under the tutelage of scientists and crew. Then, armed with new understanding and experience, teachers bring this knowledge back to their classrooms. Visit About the Program for further details and How to Apply to begin the application process. Applications are November 30, 2011, 11:59 p.m. EDT.

EPA Announces New Award for Environmental Educators

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the 2011 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators Program. The program, which will be implemented through a partnership between the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and EPA, recognizes outstanding K-12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning for their students.

Two teachers from each EPA region will be selected to receive the award. Recipients will receive a commemorative plaque and an award of $2000, to be used to further their professional development in environmental education. Additionally, the local education agency employing each teacher will receive an award of $2000 to further the recipient’s environmental educational activities and programs. EPA and CEQ will announce the inaugural award winners in the spring of 2012.

For more information on eligibility requirements and selection criteria or to submit an online application, visit the website. The application deadline is December 30, 2011.

Distinguished Fulbright Awards in Teaching

The Distinguished Fulbright Awards in Teaching program sends highly accomplished primary and secondary teachers from the United States abroad and brings international teachers to the United States for three to six months. The program will provide U.S. awardees an opportunity to study in an overseas research center or university. In addition to working on individual capstone projects, participants may enroll in graduate-level classes, conduct research, and lead seminars for teachers and students in the host country.

U.S. grantees will receive an award to cover all expenses pertaining to their overseas program, including international airfare, housing fees, tuition fees, transportation costs, meals, and incidentals. U.S. full- time teachers of any subject may apply, as well as individuals involved in their support. Applicants must have five years of teaching experience and possess a graduate degree.

Click here for details on how to apply. Applications and supporting documents must be postmarked no later than December 15, 2011.

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Teacher Resources

Mission: Science Website

This website is a one-stop shop for NASA Science and the educational resources created by NASA and its partners. Most appropriate for middle and high school students and teachers, the site offers resources in five categories: NASA Science, Be a Scientist, Get Involved, Games and Activities, and Multimedia. Each category spans several science disciplines. For example, in NASA Science, physics-oriented visitors can tour the electromagnetic spectrum or watch a video on planetary dynamics, while Earth science–minded visitors can explore tropical twisters or follow NASA weather satellites in real time.

Power Up! Engineering Game

Developed by IBM and TryScience/New York Hall of Science, this online action-strategy game for students in grades 9–12 introduces engineering principles and highlights diversity in the field. In the game, students must save the imaginary planet Helios from ecological devastation by acting as engineers and carrying out missions to supply solar, wind, and water power to the planet. The website includes an accompanying teacher’s guide and energy lesson plans.

Exploratorium Science Snacks

These simple hands-on activities are based on popular exhibits at San Francisco’s Exploratorium. Each “miniature exhibit” contains a photograph, materials list, instructions, science explanations, and interesting historical bits. With more than 100 online exhibits (such as Bicycle Wheel Gyroscope, a homemade phonograph, and Laser Jello), the Snacks serve as inspiration for any K–12 student, teacher, or science enthusiast looking to personally discover science concepts in an active way.

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Student Opportunities and Resources

The 2012 DuPont Challenge©—More Prizes Than Ever Before!

Applications are now being accepted for the DuPont Challenge Science Essay Competition. Now in its 26 th year, the program invites students in seventh through twelfth grade to write a 700- to 1,000-word essay about a scientific discovery, theory, event, or technological application that has captured their interest. Developed in collaboration with The Walt Disney World Resort, NASA, and NSTA, the competition offers young students the opportunity to explore science, develop new skills and gain confidence in communicating scientific ideas.

At stake is $100,000 in prizes including savings bonds, educator grants, expenses-paid trips to Walt Disney World and the Kennedy Space Center, and much more! Sponsoring teachers can also earn an expenses-paid trip to the 2013 NSTA National Conference on Science Education in San Antonio.

Visit the website for more information about the competition or sign up for the free DuPont Challenge LAUNCH e-newsletter to receive important program announcements, including submission deadline reminders. The official entry period for the 2012 DuPont Challenge will begin November 15, 2011.

Captain Planet Foundation Grants

The Captain Planet Foundation funds and supports hands-on environmental projects for children and youths ages 6-18. Its objective is to encourage innovative programs that empower children and youth around the world to work individually and collectively to solve environmental problems in their neighborhoods and communities. Grant amounts range from $250 to $2,500. Deadlines for submitting grant applications are March 31, June 3 , September 30, and December 31. For more information visit the 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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