NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter

December 2012

Here are your science education resources and announcements for December 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

2011 TIMSS Results Released; U.S. Students Still Lag Behind Other Nations

U.S. students continue to lag behind other nations in math and science exams given internationally, despite small strides being made on some of those tests, according to results of the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) released last week.

Students from Singapore, Korea, Japan, Finland, the Russian Federation, and Chinese Taipei-CHN outperformed U.S. fourth- and eighth-grade students. The nation's fourth-graders made some progress on the math exam since it last was given in 2007, but U.S. scores on the other exams were statistically unchanged.

Despite that, U.S. students still outperformed the international averages and were among the top performers compared with the 60 countries and educational systems that administered the fourth-grade math and science tests and the 59 systems that gave the eighth-grade exams. U.S. students either placed in, or tied for, the top 13 spots on all those exams.

Click here to learn more about the results from the study.

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Educators Need More Training to Close the Technology Gap, According to New Study

Educators need more training—teacher-preparation programs and professional development—about how best to use technology to teach in the classroom and to analyze student data, according to a report released earlier this month by the National Association of State Boards of Education. The report highlights the technology gap among teachers and other school officials, and offers several recommendations about how it should be narrowed.

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NSTA Announcements

Congratulations to the 2012–2013 NSTA New Science Teacher Academy Fellows

NSTA, in collaboration with The Dow Chemical Company ; the Amgen Foundation; Astellas Pharma US, Inc.; the American Honda Foundation; the Bayer USA Foundation; and Lockheed Martin, announced the 244 middle and secondary science teachers from across the country who will take part as fellows in the 2012–2013 NSTA New Science Teacher Academy.

For this academic year, The Dow Chemical Company, the primary sponsor of the program, will fund the participation of 195 science teachers as Dow–NSTA Fellows. The American Honda Foundation will support three science teachers as Honda–NSTA Fellows and the Amgen Foundation will support 11 science teachers as Amgen–NSTA Fellows. Astellas Pharma US, Inc. will support 14 science teachers primarily from the Chicago area as Astellas–NSTA Fellows and the Bayer USA Foundation will sponsor six science teachers as Bayer–NSTA Fellows. The remaining 15 science teachers will be supported by Lockheed Martin and named Lockheed Martin–NSTA Fellows.

Representing 34 states and the District of Columbia, the 2012–2013 fellows were selected on the basis of several criteria, including showing evidence of a solid science background and displaying a strong interest in growing as a professional science educator. Each fellow 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 2013 National Conference on Science Education in San Antonio.

Click here for a complete list of the 2012–2013 fellows.

NSTA Honors the GE Foundation with Distinguished Partnership Award for Organization’s Commitment to Science Education

NSTA presented its prestigious Distinguished Partnership Award to the GE Foundation at NSTA’s Phoenix Area Conference on Science Education earlier this month. The award, which has only been given out three times in NSTA history, pays tribute to the Foundation’s steadfast commitment to the improvement and enhancement of science education in partnership with NSTA. Click here to learn more.

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Teacher Education, Professional Development, and Grant and Award Opportunities

Lawrence Scadden Teacher of the Year Award in Science Education for Students with Disabilities

This award recognizes excellence in science teaching for students with disabilities. The award is open to all current K-12 teachers (general education, special education, or science teachers, public or private) who have taught at least five years. Nominees must have made an outstanding contribution to science students with disabilities. The winner of the Scadden award is expected to attend the NSTA National Conference on Science Education to accept the award. A check for $1,000 is provided to offset travel expenses to the NSTA conference. To learn more about the award or to download an application, click here. Applications are due by January 20, 2013.

John H. Lounsbury Award for Middle School Educators

The John H. Lounsbury Award for Distinguished Service is the highest award given by the National Middle School Association (NMSA). This award is given only when an individual has demonstrated a high level of service, integrity, and leadership in middle level education. Selection procedures include a committee review of received nominations and materials. If a recommendation results from committee deliberations, it is submitted to the Board of Trustees for a final decision.

Viable candidates for this award include those who have made a global impact on middle level education, have a minimum of 10 years of actively demonstrated, distinguished service, have demonstrated scholarship of the highest level in professional writing and research, and have maintained dedicated service to middle level education beyond the local, state, or regional level. Click here to learn more about the award or to download a nomination form.

Toshiba America Foundation Science and Math Improvement Grants

The Toshiba America Foundation seeks to improve the quality of U.S. science and mathematics education by investing in projects designed by classroom teachers. Previously funded projects include materials for the hands-on study of environmental science issues, the implementation of innovative mathematics curricula, and equipment for a teacher-designed astronomy curriculum. Grades 6–12 applications for $5,000 or less are accepted on a rolling basis, throughout the calendar year. Grant requests of more than $5,000 are reviewed twice a year. Applications for grants of more than $5,000 are due on August 1 and February 1 each year. Toshiba America Foundation offers grants of up to $1,000 to K–5 teachers. Applications for those grants are due on October 1each year. For more information, click here.

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Student Opportunities and Resources

World of 7 Billion Video Contest

Population Connection is hosting a video PSA contest for high school students. Students can win up to $1,000, and participating teachers can receive free curriculum resources. The 30- to 45-second video PSA should illustrate the connection between world population at seven billion and one of the following: food security, the global status of women/girls, or wildlife habitat. Full contest details are available at www.Worldof7Billion.org. Submission deadline is February 21, 2013.

NASA Education Launches New Clubhouse

A new room awaits kids on the NASA Kids' Club website. Find your way to the new Clubhouse from the mission control console on the NASA Kids’ Club page. Journey with Nebula, the Clubhouse commander, and explore games and interactive features designed for K–4 audiences. Look through the porthole in the floor to see pictures of Earth taken from space; read about why NASA explores; play a game about what astronauts eat in space; discover what your age and weight would be on a moon or another planet; color pictures of wildlife living on NASA centers; assemble a polygon featuring NASA aircraft; and check out the “hot spots” that come to life upon contact.

In addition to the many games NASA Kids' Club offers, its “Now in Space” area provides current and past information about the astronauts on the International Space Station. Look in the “More Pictures” section for incredible NASA images.

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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, sponsored by the ExxonMobil Foundation and Shell Oil Company, 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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