NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter

June 2012

Here are your science education resources and announcements for June 2012 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 Report Finds U.S. Students Able to Conduct Simple Investigations, but Can’t Explain Results

U.S. students can conduct simple experiments, but have a hard time explaining the results according to a new survey—The Nation's Report Card Science in Action: Hands-On and Interactive Computer Tasks from the 2009 Science Assessment —released last week by The National Center for Education Statistics.

The results reveal that the nation’s fourth, eighth, and twelfth graders struggled when investigations had more variables to manipulate or required strategic decision-making while collecting data. Further, students were not able to explain why certain results were correct.

This is the first time the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) measured how well students apply their understanding of science in real-life contexts. To see an overview of the major findings, click here.

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More American Students Pursuing Advanced Degrees in Science and Engineering

A new report recently released from the National Science Foundation (NSF) found that the number of U.S. students pursuing graduate degrees in science and engineering has increased over the last 10 years.

The results show that enrollment in graduate-level science and engineering programs at U.S. universities and colleges increased 35 percent from 2000 to 2012, to a record 556,532. First-time, full-time graduate enrollment in STEM programs also rose sharply, registering a 50 percent increase over the decade.

To read more about the results from NSF’s annual Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering, click here.

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School District in Florida Turning To Virtual Dissection

Rebecca Fleck, the assistant superintendent of curriculum/instruction, announced last week that students in the Highlands County School District in Florida will only perform virtual dissections next year despite opposition from school board members and teachers, reports local newspaper, Highlands Today.

To save money, the district will use a grant that will provide resources and training for virtual dissection with the caveat that the district must promise that no real dissections will be conducted.

To read the article, click here.

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NSTA Announcements

Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge Announces 2012 Grand Prize Winning Teams

Congratulations to the grand prize winners of the fourth annual Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge. More than 27,000 elementary, middle school and high school students competed in this year’s Challenge. This year’s projects addressed a wide variety of topics, ranging from developing a method of harnessing energy through electromagnetic inductance t o addressing the problem of voluntary car idling to reducing its community’s use of fossil fuels and helping prevent global warming.

Under the guidance of a teacher or mentor, K–12 students were tasked with identifying an environmental issue in their schools, communities or world and creating a replicable green solution using web-based curriculum tools. In addition to several other prizes, the high school grand prize winning team received $50,000 in scholarship money to divide among team members and a chance to present their project at a prestigious venue. Each student on the middle school grand prize winning team received $10,000 in savings bonds and a Discovery adventure trip to Alaska. Elementary school winners received a Discovery Education assembly focusing on sustainability and a grant for their schools.

For more information on the Challenge, the winners, and their projects, click here.

2012–2013 NSTA New Science Teacher Academy Application Deadline Extended

The deadline to submit applications for the 2012–2013 NSTA New Science Teacher Academy has been extended to August 24, 2012. Science teachers located throughout the country, who will be entering their second or third year of teaching and whose schedule is a minimum of 51 percent middle or high school science, are encouraged to apply.

NSTA Fellows chosen for the program receive a comprehensive 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 NSTA Fellow receives financial support to attend and participate in NSTA’s National Conference on Science Education, taking place in San Antonio, April 11–14, 2013.

For more information about the NSTA New Science Teacher Academy or to learn how to apply to become a fellow, please visit www.nsta.org/academy. Applications must be submitted no later than August 24, 2012, to be considered.

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Teacher Education, Professional Development, and Grant and Award Opportunities


Registration for the 2012 Recycle-Bowl is now available. The competition is open to all elementary, middle, and high schools. Public, private, and charter schools are eligible. Recycle-Bowl participants will track and report how much material they collect during the four-week competition time frame, competing for cash prizes. The deadline to register is October 18, 2012, 11:59 p.m. Eastern. For more information, click here.

ASCD's Outstanding Young Educator Award

The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development is seeking nominations for its award recognizing a full-time preK–12 teacher age 40 or younger 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. The winner receives a $10,000 check; honorees receive $500 checks. ASCD memberships and funds for travel to the association's conference are also part of the prizes. Learn more about the award here.

American Honda Foundation Grants

The foundation awards grants of up to $75,000 to K–12 schools, colleges, universities, trade schools, and others for programs that benefit youth and scientific education. "Scientific education" encompasses physical and life sciences, mathematics, and the environmental sciences. The foundation is seeking programs that meet the following characteristics: scientific, dreamful (imaginative), creative, humanistic, youthful, innovative, and forward thinking. Deadlines to apply for the grants are May 1, August 1, November 1, and February 1. For more information, click here.

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Teacher Resources

Bayer Report on STEM Ed, Science Literacy and the Workforce

Bayer Corporation's latest Making Science Make Sense report—STEM Education, Science Literacy and the Innovation Workforce in America: Analysis and Insights from the Bayer Facts of Science Education Surveys 1995-2011—summarizes 15 years of Bayer Facts public opinion research. In compiling this document, Bayer has identified key intersections of thought, belief, and concern among diverse stakeholders. The important trends that emerged are instructive and can be used by those who help set and oversee U.S. STEM education policy.

eSchool News White Paper Library

eSchool News brings you the latest white papers in education technology, covering topics like student performance, classroom strategies, NCLB scores, student response systems, data analytics for decision making, mobile device management, and more. New white papers are added to the library often.

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Student Opportunities and Resources

Sophia Summer Challenge

Combat summer brain drain with Bill Nye "The Science Guy" and Sophia.org. The two have joined forces to offer a bevy of free learning activities designed to entertain and keep young minds sharp over the long summer months. Students visiting the social education website this summer can enter the Sophia Summer Challenge for a chance to win an iPad. The site features fun science experiments kids can do at home, and info on what's happening with the latest Mars Mission.

World Wide Biome Project

Students participating in the World Wide Biome Project learn about ecosystems in their locale and share their findings online with students from around the world. The website's main objective is to have students/classes evaluate a habitat in their biome and send the data in to the World Wide Biome Project. Their data is converted into a series of web pages. This allows students to learn from other projects that students like themselves have created. This project will run through 2012. Schools can sign up at any time. Click here to learn more.

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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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