NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter

August 2013

Here are your science education resources and announcements for August 2013 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 PDK/Gallup Finds Most Americans Unaware of Common Core State Standards

Nearly two out of three Americans are unfamiliar with the Common Core Standards, and among those who have, fewer than half believe the new educational approach in English/language arts and mathematics adopted by all but four states will make the U.S. more competitive in the world, according to a new poll released this month from Phi Delta Kappa (PDK) and Gallup.

Most poll respondents gave the nation’s public schools a “C” for quality, despite giving their own local schools an “A” or “B.” They expressed strong support for charter schools, opposition to vouchers, and most said they trust public school teachers and principals. But those surveyed were divided on a variety of other issues, including teacher evaluations and standardized testing.

The PDK/Gallup poll, which is its 45th annual survey on public attitudes toward public schools, was conducted by telephone in May. The national survey of 1,001 respondents 18 and older has a margin of error of 3.8 percent.

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NAEP Board Cuts Back on Several Tests Including Science, Transcript Study and Long-Term Trends

The Nation’s Report Card won’t be releasing as much data as it had planned in 2015 and 2016, based on decisions made by the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) governing board earlier this month. The actions come in response to an expected cut of five percent to NAEP in fiscal 2015 as a result of federal sequestration and deeper projected cuts over the next few years.

Cutbacks include:

  • Main NAEP state samples in science will be cut back to 1,000 per grade, per state, in grade 4 and 8. Planned expansion of 12th grade testing will be put on hold.
  • For the Trial Urban District Assessment, which provides detailed results on 21 of the country’s largest school districts, science assessments will be removed altogether.
  • The High School Transcript Study, which helps provide context for national assessment results with information about students’ course-taking, has been suspended “indefinitely.

Read more about it at Education Week’s Inside School Research blog.

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Students Unprepared for College, According to New ACT Report

The majority of the nation’s 2013 high school graduates do not have basic skills needed to succeed in college or their career, according to a new report release this month from the organization that administers the ACT test.

According to the results of “The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2013,” only 39 percent of ACT-tested, high school class of 2013 graduates met three or more of the four ACT college readiness benchmarks, and 31 percent did not many any of the benchmarks. The benchmarks—in English, reading, math, and science—represent the minimum score students must earn to have a 75 percent chance of earning a grade C or higher in a typical first-year college class in that subject.

Read the full report here.

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Teacher Education, Professional Development, and Grant and Award Opportunities

Maley/FTEE Technology and Engineering Teacher Scholarship

The Foundation for Technology and Engineering Educators is sponsoring the $1,000 scholarship. Its purpose is to support teachers in their preparation to increase the positive outcomes of technology and engineering education. Criteria include: (1) evidence of teaching success, (2) plans for action research, (3) recommendations, (4) plans for professional development, and (5) the applicant's need. Applicant must be a technology and engineering teacher at any grade level who is beginning or continuing graduate study. For more information, click here.

Distinguished Fulbright Awards in Teaching Program

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs offers Fulbright grants for U.S. primary and secondary classroom teachers, guidance counselors, curriculum specialists, curriculum heads, Talented and Gifted coordinators, Special Education coordinators and media specialists/librarians to participate in international exchanges for three to six months. By living and teaching or conducting research overseas, U.S. teachers gain new skills, learn new instruction and assessment methodologies, and share best practices with international colleagues and students. Teachers also have the opportunity to expand their understanding of other cultures and international education systems that will enrich their U.S. home schools and local communities with global perspectives. Participants must

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be employed full-time at an accredited school in the United States or a U.S. territory
  • Hold a master’s degree
  • Be in at least their fifth year of full-time teaching
  • Demonstrate experience conducting professional development activities
  • Have received teaching awards or exemplary evaluations from a school administrator

For more information, click here.

ACS Teacher Awards

The American Chemical Society will present the following awards:

  • Award for the Achievement in Research for the Teaching and Learning of Chemistry—Recognizes outstanding contributions to experimental research that have increased our understanding of chemical pedagogy and led to the improved teaching and learning of chemistry. ($5,000 award and a certificate)
  • George C. Pimentel Award in Chemical Education—Recognizes outstanding contributions to chemical education. ($5,000 award and a certificate)
  • Award for Research at Undergraduate Institutions—Recognizing the importance of research with undergraduates, the award honors chemistry faculty whose research in an undergraduate setting has achieved wide recognition and contributed significantly to chemistry and to the professional development of undergraduate students. ($5,000 award and a certificate)
  • Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences—Recognizes individuals who have significantly stimulated or fostered the interest of students, especially minority or economically disadvantaged students, in chemistry, thereby promoting their professional development as chemists or chemical engineers, and increasing their appreciation of chemistry as the central science. ($5,000 award, a certificate, and a grant of $10,000 to an academic institution designated by the recipient)
  • James Bryant Conant Regional Award in High School Chemistry Teaching—Recognizes outstanding teachers of high school chemistry in the United States ($5,000 award and a certificate)

Click here for more information.

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Teacher Resources

Next Generation Science Standards App

NSTA, in partnership with MasteryConnect, announces a free app for the Next Generation Science Standards. The Next Generation Science Standards app gives you multiple ways to view the standards, including DCI and Topic arrangements, and also includes convenient search functionality. The app also makes referencing standards in the Common Core simple by providing a linkage between the NGSS App and MasteryConnect's Common Core App.

As part of the partnership with MasteryConnect, NSTA is providing additional free resources within the app, including several articles from NSTA's peer-reviewed journals, and free chapters from its line of NGSS-related titles, including The NSTA Reader's Guide to the Next Generation Science Standardsand Science for the Next Generation: Preparing for the New Standards.You can download the Next Generation Science Standards app (as well as MasteryConnect's other free apps) by searching "MasteryConnect" or "Next Generation Science Standards" in your app store or visiting the iOS Store or Android Marketplace. (Look for the app to be available in the Windows Store soon.)

STEM Behind Hollywood Learning Program

Texas Instruments' (TI) education program STEM Behind Hollywood was developed with experts from the National Academy of Science’s nonprofit Science and Entertainment Exchange. The nonprofit provides experts that advise television and movie productions to ensure scientific accuracy. The learning program is a series of classroom activities teachers can download for free and run on computers, TI graphing calculators, or on iPads via various TI apps. These activities center around the math and science behind Hollywood themes like zombies, superheroes, space, and forensics, and they give students the chance to solve problems just like real-life scientists using the concepts behind their favorite movies and TV series. Check it out here.

The Blobz Guide to Electric Circuits

Here's a way to teach students about electric circuits. The game, which can be played alone or in a group, has five sections that talk about what makes a circuit work, conductors and insulators, switches, changing circuits, and circuit diagrams.

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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.

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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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