NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter

March 2015

Dear Educator,

We hope you enjoy the March Newsletter of science and STEM education resources and announcements provided by the Science Matters Network. Please forward them on to other science/STEM educators in your school and/or school district. If there are any topics you would like to have us highlight in the next newsletter please let us know.

Table of Contents

  • Newsworthy
    • STEM Workforce No More Diverse than 14 Years Ago: Business Advocates Say Engagement Efforts Need to be More Strategic
    • Explore the Tetrad of Lunar Eclipses with your Students
  • Teacher Education, Professional Learning, and Grant and Award Opportunities
    • Green Athenaeum--Spring 2015 Science Writing Workshops
    • AAAS Seeking Teachers to Participate in Field Testing of Science Assessment Items
    • NSTA Virtual Conference on STEM This April 25th
    • Sally Ride Science: Free STEM Resource: The Reason for Seasons
    • NSF 2015 Teaching and Learning Video Showcase: Improving Science, Math, Engineering, and Computer Science Education
    • Teaching Students to Make Meaningful Comparisons: Free Webinar by Marzano
    • NEW Spring Resources from NSTA Press
  • Student News
    • Northwestern University High School Project Showcase
    • Intel Science Talent Search Winners
    • Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology
    • Summer Neuroscience Program (SNP) at Rockefeller University
  • What is Science Matters?
  • We Want to Hear from You


STEM Workforce No More Diverse Than 14 Years Ago: Business Advocates Say Engagement Efforts Need to be More Strategic.

Despite a national focus on directing more students toward science, technology, engineering and math fields—particularly women and minorities—the STEM workforce is no more diverse now than in 2001, according to data from Change the Equation. (Source: U.S. News & World Report)

Explore the Tetrad of Lunar Eclipses With Your Students

The action started on April 15, 2014, when the full Moon passed through the amber shadow of Earth, producing a midnight eclipse visible across North America. So began a lunar eclipse tetrad—a series of 4 consecutive total eclipses occurring at approximately six month intervals.  The total eclipse of April 15, 2014, was followed by another on October 8, 2014, and coming up is the next on April 4, 2015, and another on September 28 2015. "The most unique thing about the 2014–2015 tetrad is that all of them are visible for all or parts of the USA," says longtime NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak. See the NASA website for more information.

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Teacher Education, Professional Learning, and Grant and Award Opportunities

Green Athenaeum—Spring 2015 Science Writing Workshops

Workshops for middle school and high school science and ELA teachers on writing about science topics and STEM disciplines, aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core State Standards.

Workshop 1: Science Writing: Integrating the Common Core and PARCC
Friday, April 10, 10 am–4 pm
Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston, MA

The Common Core and PARCC assessments call for argumentative writing in which students make claims, organize textual evidence, build logical arguments, and summarize their conclusions—all while writing in an objective, formal style. This one-day workshop will focus on controversies in science and technology that provide excellent platforms for student investigation and argument.

Workshop 2:   Science Writing: Integrating the NGSS
Friday, April 17, 10 am–4 pm,
Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston, MA

The Next Generation Science Standards and the Massachusetts ST/E Standards draft include research and writing expectations that reflect the Common Core State Standards. They will examine specific types of writing (narrative, informational, and argumentative styles) and writing prompts, from lab-based abstracts and discussions to science essays and text-based summaries. They’ll examine creative ways to integrate science content into writing that engages, motivates, and supports learning.

For more information, contact Dr. Judith Sumner, jsumner@wpi.edu.

AAAS Seeking Teachers to Participate in Field Testing of Science Assessment Items

AAAS Project 2061 is developing assessment items to measure elementary, middle, and high school students' understanding of ideas about energy and recruiting teachers willing to field test multiple-choice test items with their students in Spring 2015. Students must be in grades 4–12. The test may be administered online or in paper format and should take no more than a single class period. Deadline is March 31. Learn more at the AAAS website.

NSTA Virtual Conference on STEM This April 25th

STEM programs provide the gateway for students to successful careers in these expanding and dynamic fields. If your school is looking to start or expand a STEM curriculum, then mark your calendar now for another quality all-day NSTA virtual conference exclusively on STEM scheduled for Saturday, April 25. From the comfort of your home learn from content and pedagogical experts and share ideas with colleagues during the live chat discussions. Choose from strands for teachers and administrators that offer fresh ideas and tried and true methods that work or mix and match the sessions that will suit your needs. Learn more at the NSTA Learning Center.

Sally Ride Science: Free STEM Resource: The Reason for Seasons

At Sally Ride Science (cofounded by America’s first woman in space), the mission is making STEM education easier for educators and more engaging for students. Through our eBooks (like those shown above), PD, and hands-on investigations, their goal is to help educators like you create the next generation of STEM professionals. Enjoy a free classroom activity, "The Reason for Seasons." This hands-on STEM investigation will help your students understand how Earth's rotation and tilt cause seasonal change. It includes student handouts and a teacher guide for both upper elementary and middle school teachers, and is aligned to both Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards. For more info on a free download at the Sally Ride Science website.

NSF 2015 Teaching and Learning Video Showcase: Improving Science, Math, Engineering, and Computer Science Education to be Held as an Interactive Event Online on May 11–15, 2015

During these five days, members of all of the MSP resource centers will be able to view the video presentations, participate in facilitated discussions of each video, and vote for the videos that are most effective in conveying the creative work being done.

Goals: The event will showcase cutting-edge NSF-funded work to improve teaching and learning and will allow colleagues affiliated with MSPnet, CADRE, CIRCL, CAISE, STELAR, CS10Kcommunity, and ARC to view, discuss, and comment on each other’s work. It will also allow each project to disseminate their work to the public at large, helping NSF achieve its goal of broad dissemination of innovative work.

Be a Presenter: Present your work by creating a video that showcases your intervention, innovation, and/or research. It should address potential impact, promise, and challenges. Make it no longer than 3 minutes and ensure that the sound is audible. Register to be a presenter March 17–April 1. As this is the first such cross-resource center video showcase event, they are limiting it to 100 video presentations—so register early.

  • You must upload video by May 4.
  • Your presentation includes your agreement to actively participate in the online event, which will take placem May 11–15.

Criteria for inclusion: Your video must be related to a funded NSF project and the submitter must have some affiliation with one of the above resource centers. The video must be under three minutes and be designed to effectively convey your intervention, innovation or research’s potential impact, promise and challenges. Videos can be prepared by a team or by an individual project member.

To register as a presenter, go to resourcecenters2015.videohall.com. If you have any questions please send a message to contact@resourcecenters2015.videohall.com.

Teaching Students to Make Meaningful Comparisons

On Tuesday, March 31, at 3 p.m. EDT,Robert J. Marzano and Connie Scoles West will host an exclusive webinar to discuss the content of their new book, Examining Similarities & Differences: Classroom Strategies to Help Students Deepen Their Understanding

To meet rigorous new standards, today’s students must also be able to

  • Examine similarities and differences within critical content
  • Use comparisons, classifications, metaphors, and analogies
  • Generalize, draw conclusions, and refine schema

This is a must-view presentation for any educator striving to deepen students’ understanding of content in a standards-driven classroom. Register now to reserve your spot.

NEW Spring Resources from NSTA Press

Three new books are hot off the NSTA presses and ready for your spring professional learning! Rodger Bybee's new book Create Teachable Moments With the 5E Instructional Model explores in depth the five phases of the instructional model—engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate—and provides classroom examples and suggestions for how the 5E Model can be incorporated in the context of the Next Generation Science Standards.

The Power of Questioning: Guiding Student Investigations brings teachers invaluable advice on how to harness the power of questioning as part of the learning process to help students deepen their understanding of science practices and concepts.

Changing emphases in science and STEM education increases the need to reinvigorate the science department as a center for growth and change. In Reimagining the Science Department, department chairs, teachers, and administrators of grades 6–12 explore ways to revamp their departments to more fully support teacher growth and development.

NSTA is celebrating spring by offering savings on these new books and all NSTA Press publications. Between now and April 30, 2015, save $15 off your order of $75 or more of NSTA Press books or NSTA Press e-books by entering promo code SPR15 at checkout in the online Science Store.

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Student Opportunities

Students are Invited to Register for the Northwestern University High School Project Showcase

Northwestern University
Evanston Campus
Monday, June 1, 2015
9:30 am–3:15 pm

Northwestern University's Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP), in collaboration with the Office of Undergraduate Research and the Motorola Solutions Foundation, will be hosting the 8th Annual High School Project Showcase at the Evanston campus this June. High school students from Chicago-area schools are invited to submit their projects, and those selected will display their project as part of Northwestern University's Undergraduate Research and Arts Exposition. The 9th–12th grade students will be selected from those who complete high quality projects as part of their research and project-based math and science curricula, through an independent student research course or club, or as an entirely independent project. Register online. For more information, please contact phong.luu@northwestern.edu.

Intel Science Talent Search Awardees

When throwing a party, it takes just six guests to guarantee at least three will be mutual friends or mutual strangers, mathematicians say. This year, when it came to celebrating the winners of America’s premier high school science and math competition, it took 40 finalists to guarantee (for the first time) three top winners.

The prizes were handed out during a gala celebration held in the nation’s capital on March 10. There, advanced research in pattern-finding, genetic mutations and sound earned each of three teens $150,000. These teens each took home a first-place award from the Intel Science Talent Search (STS) 2015. STS is America’s oldest and most prestigious competition of its kind for high school seniors. Read more »

Summer Neuroscience Program (SNP) at Rockefeller University

Now in its eighth year, this unique program introduces motivated and bright high school students to the wonders of cutting-edge neuroscience. Our goal is to get kids excited and confident about science and research. Through highly interactive lectures, activities, and experiments, we will explore how the brain works and how this relates to our daily lives. SNP is a two-week course (all expenses paid) hosted at the Rockefeller University.  The course is challenging, but a lot of fun. Please visit website (below) to learn more! Each year, they seek motivated, mature, and inquisitive students, irrespective of previous scholastic achievement or experience with science. They aren’t necessarily looking for "straight A" students; they are looking for distinctive, curious students—whether they're shy or outgoing. There are two ways to help find students for SNP:

  1. Nominate students
  2. Forward this message to teachers, principals, guidance counselors and other educators in your community. To nominate students, or to learn more about SNP, please visit the website.

The deadline for both student nominations and applications is April 15.

Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology

The Siemens Foundation established the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology in 1999. The Competition is the nation’s premiere science research competition for high school students and seeks to promote excellence by encouraging students to undertake individual or team research projects. It fosters intensive research that improves students' understanding of the value of scientific study and informs their consideration of future careers in these disciplines. The Siemens Innovator's Lounge event is now available to view with your classroom of innovators. The 2015 Siemens Competition will open on May 1, 2015. You can compete as an individual or as a member of a two or three-person team. Individual projects promote independent research. Team projects foster collaborative research efforts, as well as individual contributions to the cooperative endeavor. Scholarships for winning projects range from $1,000 to $100,000.

For more info and to compete, visit the Siemens Competition website.

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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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