NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter

December 2014

Here are your science education resources and announcements for December 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

CEO’s Say Skills Gap Threatens U.S. Economic Future, According to a New Survey

The skills gap is real and is a significant a problem, the CEOs of major U.S. corporations said earlier this month at an event in Washington hosted by Business Roundtable and Change the Equation. The finding is part of a survey of the memberships on U.S. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Skills, conducted earlier this year.

According to the 126 CEOs who responded, key points that emerged included:

  • Ninety-seven percent reported the skills gap is a problem;
  • Approximately 60 percent of job openings require basic STEM literacy, and 42 percent require advanced STEM skills;
  • Twenty-eight percent say that at least half of their new entry-level hires lack basic STEM literacy;
  • Sixty-two percent of CEOs report problems finding qualified applicants for jobs requiring advanced computer/IT knowledge;
  • Forty-one percent report problems finding qualified applicants for jobs requiring advanced quantitative knowledge; and
  • Over the next five years, employers will need to hire nearly 1 million employees with basic STEM literacy and more than 600,000 employees with advanced STEM knowledge.

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National Council on Teacher Quality Releases Study Finding Teachers Must Work 24 Years, on Average, to Reach $75,000 Salary

A study by the National Council on Teacher Quality looking at the salaries of teachers in 113 mostly large school districts which employ about 20 percent of the nation's public school teachers finds that teachers’ lifetime earnings vary greatly from district to district, due largely to a much unstudied factor: the time it takes to climb the salary ladder.

The report, Smart Money: What teachers make, how long it takes and what it buys them, finds that the salary information that usually gets the most attention—starting or ending salaries—doesn’t tell the whole story. While it takes an average of 24 years for teachers to reach a common salary of $75,000,some districts, like Boston Public Schools, take as few as seven years while other districts, like Wichita Public Schools, take more than 30 years. Even after adjusting for cost of living, there are still big disparities. Teachers in Albuquerque Public Schools work over 30 years to get to the same adjusted salary that teachers in Shelby County Schools (Tennessee) make in 10 years.

The full report, including the rankings for all of the districts in the study, is available here.

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Teacher Education, Professional Development, and Grant and Award Opportunities

Miami University's Earth Expeditions from Project Dragonfly

This program offers university courses with field experiences that link educators with scientists, naturalists, and conservationists from around the world. Teachers can participate in inquiry and action research projects at conservation hot spots in Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas. After they return home, teachers continue work on conservation and education projects in their schools and communities.

Earth Expeditions are open to all preK–12 teachers, administrators, and university faculty, as well as educators, naturalists, and other professionals from non-school settings. Courses are for stand-alone graduate credit or can be applied to a full master's degree. Tuition is significantly reduced because of support from Miami University. Apply by January 28, 2015; for more details, click here.

NOAA Climate Steward Education Project

Calling all educators! Do you want to learn more about climate science? Become part of a science learning community? Join other educators who are supporting climate resilience? Then you should become a NOAA Climate Steward.

The Climate Steward Education Project (CSEP) provides formal and informal educators working with elementary through university age students with sustained professional development, collaborative tools, and support to build a climate-literate public that is actively engaged in climate stewardship. CSEP also provides support for educators to execute climate stewardship (mitigation or adaption) projects with their audiences to increase understanding of climate science and practical actions to reduce the impact of climate change.

There are two levels of involvement:

  • Level I: If you are only interested professional development opportunities in climate science and have no interest in doing a stewardship project.
  • Level II: If you are interested in professional development opportunities and:
    • Mini-grant funding up to $2000.00 to develop and implement a climate stewardship project;
    • Travel stipends/reimbursements to attend and present at regional workshops &/or national conferences;
    • Special professional development opportunities; and
    • CSEP contests with monetary and educational resource prizes.

Click here, for more information about the program.

National Marine Educators Association’s Marine Education Award

The award is presented for outstanding work and leadership in any aspect of marine education at the local, regional, or national level. It can be awarded to a member or a non-member of NMEA, for current or past accomplishments. Documentation describing the nominee’s career accomplishments in marine education, such as national and/or regional impact, leadership, programs, etc., should be detailed in nomination package.

A complete nomination form, along with any recommendation letters and all other supporting materials, must be received by the awards committee chair on or before April 1. All award recipients will receive a one-year NMEA membership and an engraved award.

AFCEA STEM Teachers Scholarships

The AFCEA Educational Foundation is offering scholarships of $5,000 each to students actively pursuing an undergraduate degree, graduate degree, or credential/licensure for the purpose of teaching STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) subjects at a U.S. middle or secondary school. Students must be U.S. citizens with a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 (or equivalent). Undergraduate candidates must be attending an accredited U.S. college or university on-campus and majoring in secondary education or a STEM field for the purpose of teaching STEM subjects in a U.S. middle or secondary school.

Undergraduate applications will be accepted from current sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Graduate-level candidates must be currently enrolled in at least two semester-equivalent classes at an accredited U.S. college or university. Credential and licensure students must have completed a bachelor’s degree in a STEM major.

ASM’s 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 20 grants of $500 annually. 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. Click here for more information.

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Teacher Resources

2015 Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K–12

Since 1973, NSTA and the Children's Book Council have collaborated to select an annual list of Outstanding Science Trade Books (OSTB) for Students K–12. Heartwarming and engaging stories that explore a host of topics from Batman Science to Dung Beetles are on this year's OSTB list for K–12 students. Explore the 2015 list, where you will find not only traditional science content, but also books that allow children to explore engineering and design. Two of the books—Neighborhood Sharks and Star Stuff—also made the New York Times' special Book Review section on children's titles.

You can find this list, and lists from years past, at NSTA Recommends, where you can generate an Excel file of your favorites. To help you select and use these outstanding teaching tools, NSTA also has developed a Guide to Science Trade Books, available free of charge.

GLOBIO’s Glossopedia

This free, interactive, online science encyclopedia for elementary school science and general studies applications is comprised of a series of interlinked, informative multimedia articles written specifically for children ages 8–12. Use the map to discover wildlife and nature around the world, or click on a topic to see pictures, watch videos, and find fun facts. Accompanying Learning Activity Guides are available here.

AcademyScope: Free National Academies Resources

AcademyScope is a visualization of all of the reports that are available on the National Academies Press website, allowing you to browse through the reports of the National Academies by topic area and seeing relationships between titles. Check out resources on the biology, history, the future trends of infectious disease--and the Education section, which contains resources for K–12 teachers.

Skype in the Classroom Science Lessons

Skype in the Classroom offers dozens of science lessons for all grade levels, including Earth and space science with NASA, geology and ecology with Yellowstone National Park rangers, and STEM with Captain Barrington Irving's Flying Classroom. The service enables teachers and students to connect with classrooms and experts worldwide and to take virtual field trips. Teachers can also set up their own Skype in the Classroom lesson.

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Student Competitions and Grant Opportunities

Bonnie Plant Farm Cabbage Program Scholarships

Bonnie Plant Farm will award a $1,000 scholarship to one third grader in each state (except Alaska and Hawaii) for participating in the third-grade cabbage program. The drawing will be done by state agriculture department representatives and is based on the size and maturity of the cabbage grown by the student. Plants will be delivered in early spring 2015. Students will then have until September 16, 2015, to grow their cabbage and submit their entries. 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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