NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter

November 2015

Dear Educator,

We hope you enjoy the November 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


A Call for National Computer Coding Requirement in Schools

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday called on the federal government to make computer coding classes a requirement of high-school graduation. Emanuel, who previously served as President Obama's chief of staff, predicted that if the administration made it a national priority, a host of other education policy decisions would fall into place around it. "Just make it a requirement," he said during a tech policy event sponsored by the Washington Post. "I am fine with Common Core. We adopted it in the city, one of the first cities to do it. I'm great. [But] you need this skill—national policy. Make it a high-school graduation requirement." Read more »

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Teacher Education, Professional Learning, and Grant and Award Opportunities

21 Schools Receive Support from John Deere in 2015–16 (Project Lead The Way)

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) announced that 21 middle schools received grants totaling $310,350 to implement PLTW’s middle school program—PLTW Gateway—for the 2015–16 school year. A second grant competition is currently open for schools interested in implementing PLTW in the 2016-17 school year. The grants are funded by John Deere in communities where the company’s employees work and live. “PLTW programs provide students with a solid foundation in STEM coursework,” said Pat Barnes, John Deere’s program director for global STEM. “Engaging students in Project Lead The Way programs will help develop the world’s next generation of innovators.”

Free C-STEM Studio at UC Davis Teaches K–12 Robotics and Computing

K–12 STEM teachers now have a new, free resource to help their students learn math, coding and robotics. The Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education at the University of California, Davis has launched C-STEM Studio, a web resource that provides code, documentation, teacher guides and textbooks for teaching [STEM] through computing and robotics. The center has also introduced a virtual robot simulation program. Harry Cheng, the director of the center and a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the university, called the new C-STEM platform, "a turnkey solution for teachers and students."

The Amgen Foundation Biotech Experience

The Amgen Foundation announced that it will invest more than $4 million to support and strengthen the Amgen Biotech Experience program across the United States, Puerto Rico, United Kingdom and Ireland. This new commitment will also strengthen the program’s alignment with Next Generation Science Standards, which are focused on engaging students in more authentic science learning experiences. With the support of Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), the global nonprofit leading the Amgen Biotech Experience Program Office, the investment is expected to empower 1,000 teachers who will reach more than 150,000 new students with the labs over the next two years.

The Amgen Biotech Experience is an innovative science education program that provides teacher professional development, teaching materials, and research-grade equipment and supplies to secondary schools. The program features a hands-on molecular biology curriculum that introduces students to the excitement of scientific discovery. Each year, over 70,000 students and hundreds of science teachers participate and have the opportunity to explore the methods scientists use to create biotechnology medicines.

National Center for Technological Literacy

The goal of the Museum of Science in Boston’s National Center for Technological Literacy is to introduce engineering and technology to schools and at least one science center or informal education organization in every state by 2015. Achieving this goal will help transform how children and adults understand technology and engineering, while inspiring young women and men to pursue careers in engineering and technology. With Secor Strategies, the center is hosting its first live national virtual conference for educators focusing on the "E" in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) The first one is scheduled for Tuesday, November 17 – Wednesday, November 18.

Learning Sciences Dylan Wiliam Center

The Dylan Wiliam Center has committed to providing teachers with powerful, sustained professional development in Strategic Formative Assessment that will help them monitor, modify, and improve their classroom instruction. Dylan Wiliam has partnered with Learning Sciences International on an exciting professional development initiative for teachers and school administrators, the primary goals being:

  • To help schools fortify strategic formative assessment with teacher learning communities
  • To research and develop innovative, highly effective programs
  • To support enhanced student achievement with cutting-edge technology

Dr. Wiliam is an internationally recognized leader in the development of effective, research-based formative assessment. His books, articles, school visits, workshops, and conference presentations on strategic formative assessment and teacher learning communities have profoundly impacted teacher professional practice and student learning worldwide.

Calling All Teachers: Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision Program

Registration for the 24th annual Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision program—the world's largest K–12 student science competition—is now open. The deadline for all project submissions is February 1, 2016.

Through the competition, teams of two to four students are challenged to research scientific principles and current technologies as the basis for designing innovative technologies that could exist in 20 years. Students simulate real scientific research to outline how they plan to test their ideas and create mock websites to illustrate concepts. Student participants will have a chance to win a number of great prizes, including $10,000 U.S. Series EE Savings Bonds (at maturity). Canadian winners receive Canada bonds purchased for the equivalent issue price in Canadian dollars. And to celebrate ExploraVision's 24th anniversary, the top 24 teachers who submit 24 eligible online entries will receive a Toshiba tablet.

Teachers can learn more information by visiting the frequently asked questions page on the ExploraVision website.

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NSTA Information and Resources

New Publication for Special Education Teachers

NSTA Press® has published NGSS for All Students, edited by Okhee Lee, Emily Miller, and Rita Januszyk. This unique book portrays real teaching scenarios written by the teachers on the NGSS Diversity and Equity Team. The seven authentic case studies vividly illustrate research- and standards-based classroom strategies you can use to engage seven diverse demographic groups:

  • Economically disadvantaged students
  • Students from major racial and ethnic groups
  • Students with disabilities
  • English language learners
  • Girls
  • Students in alternative education
  • Gifted and talented students

Supplementing the case studies are additional chapters to deepen your understanding of the strategies and make what you learn more usable. These chapters address how to design units with the NGSS and diversity in mind, apply a rubric to improve your teaching using the NGSS with diverse student groups, and use the case studies in teacher study groups. Furthermore, leaders of the NGSS—including Helen Quinn, Stephen Pruitt, Andrés Henríquez, and Joe Krajcik—offer their insights and commitments to diversity and equity.

2015-2016 Lockheed Martin-NSTA Fellows Announced

Congratulation to the 30 middle and secondary science teachers from across the country selected as Lockheed Martin–NSTA Fellows in the 2015–2016 NSTA New Science Teachers Academy. Read more. at http://www.nsta.org/academy

NSTA and the Northrop Grumman Foundation Announce New Program Aimed to Help Teachers Enhance STEM Instruction in Grades 5–8

NSTA and the Northrop Grumman Foundation have announced the launch of the Northrop Grumman Foundation Teachers Academy for middle school physical science, engineering and technology teachers (grades 5–8). The Academy is designed to help enhance teacher confidence and classroom excellence in science, engineering and technology, while increasing teacher understanding about the skills needed for a scientifically literate workforce. The Academy will initially support 25 teachers located in school districts in select Northrop Grumman communities.

Safety Resources

NSTA has issued a safety alert and an updated position statement on safety: www.nsta.org/safety.

Share Your Good Ideas! Present at the 2016 NSTA STEM Forum

We are now accepting proposals for the 5th Annual STEM Forum & Expo, hosted by NSTA—which will be held in Denver July 27–29, 2016. The deadline for submissions is 11:59 PM on Friday, January 15, 2016. Visit the NSTA website for more information and to submit a proposal. Please e-mail lcrossley@nsta.org if you have any questions.

NSTA Conferences

NSTA conferences offer the latest in science/STEM content, pedagogy, and research to enhance and expand your professional growth. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to collaborate with science education leaders and your peers. Each year, NSTA hosts a national conference on science education (in the spring), three area conferences (in the fall), and a STEM Forum & Expo.

Twitter hashtags: #NSTA15 (2015 conferences), #NSTA (all-purpose)

Upcoming Conferences:

Philadelphia: Nov. 12–14, 2015
Kansas City: Dec. 3–5, 2015
Nashville (National): Mar. 31–Apr. 3, 2016
STEM Forum & Expo: Denver, July 27–29, 2016

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Student Opportunities

Explore NASA

NASA has a wealth of resources from competitions to internships to the latest images from space.

GE Star Awards Competition

The GE STAR Awards competition, now in its 13th year, is open to high school seniors, who are children of eligible GE employees and retirees worldwide. The award will defray first-year higher education expenses. Recipients, chosen through a selective application process, are awarded a one-time award that will go toward a four-year college or two-year community college/vocational-technical school. Finalists also select a teacher from their current secondary school to recognize and to guide the use of an award to the school.

For more info on GE scholarship programs, visit the GE Foundation 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 wbinder@nsta.org. We look forward to hearing from you!

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