NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter

January 2014

Here are your science education resources and announcements for January 2014 provided by the Science Matters Network. Please forward them on to other science educators in your school and/or school district.

Table of Contents

U.S. Senate Approves National Science Week

Earlier this month, the USA Science & Engineering Festival announced that the U.S. Senate passed Senate Resolution 329, which designates the last week of April 2014 as National Science Week. The resolution was introduced by Se. Chris Coons (DE), who was joined by a bipartisan group in cosponsoring his efforts, including Sen. Kirk (IL), Sen. Rockefeller (WV), Sen. Alexander (TN), Sen. Baucus (MT), Sen. Crapo (ID), and Sen. Durbin (IL). Read more about it here.

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Congratulations to the 2013–2014 NSTA New Science Teacher Academy Fellows

NSTA, in collaboration with The Dow Chemical Company; Lockheed Martin; the American Honda Foundation; and the Bayer USA Foundation, announced the 199 middle and secondary science teachers from across the country who will take part as fellows in the 2013–2014 NSTA New Science Teacher Academy.

This year, The Dow Chemical Company, the primary sponsor of the program, will fund the participation of 158 science teachers as Dow-NSTA Fellows. Lockheed Martin will sponsor 27 teachers as Lockheed Martin-NSTA Fellows. The American Honda Foundation will support seven science teachers as Honda-NSTA Fellows and the Bayer USA Foundation will sponsor seven science teachers from New Jersey as Bayer-NSTA Fellows.

Representing 21 states and the District of Columbia, the 2013–2014 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 2014 National Conference on Science Education in Boston.

For a complete list of the 2013–2014 Fellows, visit the Academy website.

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New Study Finds Benefits for Children in 4-H Program

A new study, conducted by the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University, found that youths in 4-H experienced more “positive development” than their peers who did not.

The benefits for girls were particularly strong. The Positive Development of Youth: Comprehensive Findings from the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development, revealed that 4-H girls are two time more likely (Grade 10) and nearly three times more likely (Grade 12) to take part in science programs compared to girls in other out-of-school time activities. Click here to download the full report.

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Teacher Education, Professional Development, and Grant and Award Opportunities

National Weather Association’s Sol Hirsch Educational Grants

The National Weather Association will award grants of $750 each to help teachers, program directors, school-district supervisors, and other individuals or groups improve the education of students in meteorology. Those selected can use the funds to take an accredited course in atmospheric sciences, attend a relevant workshop or conference, or purchase scientific materials or equipment for the classroom. Read more about the grant opportunity here.

Living in a Material World Grants

To help K–12 teachers bring the real world of materials science into their classrooms, the ASM Materials Education Foundation awards 10 grants of $500 annually. The “Living in a Material World” grants recognize teacher creativity. Their purpose is to enhance awareness of materials science and the role of materials scientists in society. Applicants must submit a two-page proposal describing a curriculum-based, hands-on project involving students' observations, communication, and mathematics and science skills that will increase their awareness of the materials around them. For more information, click here.

Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Grant Program

Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation will donate $5 million to schools and school parent-teacher groups at more than 1,000 different schools during the school year. Grant applicants may request between $2,000 and $5,000 per school. Once 1,500 applications are received, the application process will be closed and the "Apply Now" button will no longer appear on the website. The program has two grant cycles in a school year: Spring (February 15) and Fall (October 15). Details can be found here.

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Teacher Resources

Connected Classrooms

The Google+ social community for K–12 educators features virtual field trips and “hangouts” (video conversations with multiple participants, broadcast live on Google+) on topics in science and nature, art and music, and social studies. Visit the website to register to participate in upcoming events or browse the archived collection. Past events have featured scientists and education experts from the Seattle Aquarium, the Minnesota Zoo, Zoo Atlanta, the Solar Impulse hangar, and Google Maps.

Energy Foundations for High School Chemistry

This website from the ACS offers fully-developed laboratory investigations, demonstrations, readings, and multimedia to teach the big ideas about energy in your high school chemistry classroom. The resources are categorized in four areas: What Is Energy? How Do We Use Energy? How Can Energy Change? and Energy Theories. Each content item, as well as the entire resource collection, can be downloaded in PDF format.


This website for students ages 13 and older from Twin Cities Public Television and 3M can spark teens’ interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields through an eclectic mix of videos, games, articles, and hands-on activities. Curated by experts from STEM-oriented organizations and universities, the website's attention-grabbing resources have been vetted for accuracy and “teen appeal.” Highlights include the video 10 Brilliant Rube Goldberg Machines and Crypto Quiz, a trivia test involving the study of animals not formally recognized by science. Students can also join the community to rank favorites and share comments on social media, earning points and status in the process.

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Student Competitions

National KidWind Challenge

To help future scientists learn about alternative energy, KidWind is launching the inaugural National KidWind Challenge. Qualifying teams of students in grades 4–12 and their coaches will showcase their hand-crafted wind turbines for wind industry experts at the USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C., in April. Teams can qualify by participating in one of two ways: by winning a KidWind Challenge Event in their local area, or by winning a monthly KidWind Challenge Online. The KidWind Challenge Online allows students across the world to build wind turbines, calculate their own energy output, and upload pictures and results to the KidWind website for judging.

Teachers should check the website for a list of KidWind Challenge events and their locations.

NASA Exploration Design Challenge

K–12 students will have the opportunity to play a unique role in the future of human spaceflight through participation. NASA EDC invites students around the world to think and act like scientists to overcome one of the major hurdles of deep space long-duration exploration: the dangers associated with space radiation. Students will discover how to plan and design improved radiation shielding aboard the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, currently being developed to carry astronauts to space. Through a series of science, technology, engineering and mathematics engagement activities, K–8 students will analyze different materials that simulate space radiation shielding and recommend materials that best block radiation and protect astronauts. Students in grades 9–12 will think and act like engineers as they apply what they learn to design shielding to protect a sensor on the Orion crew module from space radiation.

After a review of the design solutions submitted by teams in the grades 9–12 challenge, five finalist teams will be selected and matched with a mentor from NASA to test their designs in a virtual simulator. The winning team will build a prototype radiation shield that will be analyzed and submitted to Lockheed Martin for flight certification on the inaugural flight of the Orion Exploration Flight Test. The five U.S. finalist teams from the grades 9–12 challenge will be invited to attend the EFT-1 launch, currently scheduled for November 2014. The names of all K–12 students will fly aboard the spacecraft as honorary virtual crewmembers for Orion’s first flight. The deadline to register students for the virtual crew is June 30, 2014. Click here for more information.

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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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