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Call for Papers: Science Scope

Science Scope coverThe editors of Science Scope would like to encourage you to submit a manuscript on any topic that may be of interest to middle level science teachers.

Although each issue of Science Scope is organized around a theme, your manuscript does not have to be related to a specific theme. In addition to general interest articles, Science Scope also features a number of columns that may be a good fit for your manuscript. The list of columns and their descriptions is found below. If you prefer to submit a manuscript that is aligned to a theme, you can click on the list of upcoming themes to read a full description of each.

You may contact the Field Editor, Patty McGinnis, if you have questions related to a proposed manuscript.

Visit Manuscript Central to register as an author and submit your article.

General Interest Manuscripts

Submission deadline: Ongoing

Manuscripts of general interest, not targeted to a specific theme, are published in every issue of Science Scope.

Commentary

Submission deadline: Ongoing

Commentaries of approximately 750 words on any middle level science education topic can be submitted at any time.

Letters to the Editor

Submission deadline: Ongoing

Have you used an activity published in Science Scope in the last year, or liked—or disliked—something you read in the journal? We welcome your comments and feedback at any time.

Integrating Technology

Submission deadline: Ongoing

Do you have a time-management strategy that relies on the use of technology or a favorite app to engage learners? Science Scope readers want to know how you use technology for assessment, student learning, or classroom management. Submit your idea in 1,200 words or less. Supporting materials such as screenshots, screencasts, and rubrics are welcome.

Science on a Shoestring

Submission deadline: Ongoing

Have you created inexpensive lab equipment or models to ensure that your students have opportunities to experience lab investigations and other activities critical to learning science? If so, consider sharing your ideas with Science Scope readers. All Science on a Shoestring submissions should be safe for use in the classroom and should include an introduction that explains the connection to the curriculum, as well as a list of materials and their approximate cost, a photograph of the equipment or model, assembly instructions, and tips for use in the classroom.

Teacher's Toolkit

Submission deadline: Ongoing

In this column, you can share your how-to instructional strategies, practical advice, and classroom applicable results of action research with fellow middle level teachers. Tell us how you efficiently navigate today’s vast quantity of resources and websites to craft new lesson plans or to redesign/update older lessons to improve student achievement. What research-based practices do you use to guide your teaching? What are you doing to become familiar with the K–12 Framework for Science Education and prepare for the Next Generation Science Standards?

Classic Lessons 2.0

Submission deadline: Ongoing

Do you have a favorite classroom activity that you've updated to reflect current technology tools or the Next Generation Science Standards? Tell us what is special about the activity and describe the changes you have implemented that make the activity better than the original. Be sure to tell us how your lesson generates student excitement and promotes 3D learning.

Making in the Middle

Submission deadline: Ongoing

Do you have a science classroom activity that focuses on maker spaces, engineering, 3D printing, coding, robotics, or electronics? How about advice on how to fund a maker space, tie an engineering activity into your science curriculum, or maintain your new 3D printer? Science Scope is interested in publishing your ideas related to the maker space movement, specifically your easily replicable activities that use low-cost materials and have a strong connection to the science curriculum or to STEM. All manuscripts need to incorporate safety concerns as well as a list of materials and their cost. Supporting documentation such as rubrics, photographs, and "how-to" videos are encouraged.

Practical Research

Submission deadline: Ongoing

Do you have relevant research to share with middle school science teachers? Perhaps you are you a teacher who has conducted action research in your classroom? Science Scope readers are looking for ideas that demonstrate how they can apply research results to their classroom. Consider submitting a brief, practical overview of your research findings as they relate to pedagogy, technology integration, differentiation, special needs populations, or assessment in the middle school classroom. Submit your manuscript in 1000 words or less.

Upcoming Themes

March/April 2021: Science Beyond the Classroom

Submission deadline: August 1, 2020

Kids are born scientists, naturally curious and constantly experimenting. They learn science by engaging in the practices such as asking questions and planning and carrying out investigations. Why not take advantage of that curiosity by encouraging them to ask questions, make observations, and draw conclusions outside your classroom? In doing so, you can involve your students’ parents in their science education and help them instill the belief in their child that he/she can succeed in science. Parent involvement is critical to a child’s education; what techniques do you use to extend school science lessons to the home?

Share with the readers of Science Scope how you

  • Ensure that all at-home investigations and activities are safe and appropriate for middle school students.
  • Use at-home investigations as a way of reducing the learning loss that students experience during the summer or during long vacations.
  • Utilize citizen science projects to challenge your students to collect data at home or while on vacation.
  • Encourage attendance at nature centers, science museums, and other informal learning institutions.
  • Determine the type of documentation you expect a student to produce when conducting an investigation at home.
  • Encourage family discussions on science-related topics.
  • Communicate to parents about the importance of learning science outside the school day.
  • Advocate for learning science in an informal setting.
  • Provide support to students who may lack parental support for at-home activities.
  • Develop activities that your students can participate in either independently, with parents, or in the community.
  • Connect students with science-related opportunities occurring in their community.
  • Encourage families to connect science with a family vacation.
  • Help parents talk about school science with their child.
  • Encourage students to read about science and scientists?
May/June 2021: Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

Submission deadline: October 1, 2020

Mathematics is a tool that is key to understanding science. As such, classroom instruction must include critical skills of mathematics. The NGSS displays many of those skills through the performance expectations, but classroom instruction should enhance all of science through the use of quality mathematical and computational thinking. Although there are differences in how mathematics and computational thinking are applied in science and in engineering, mathematics often brings these two fields together by enabling engineers to apply the mathematical form of scientific theories and by enabling scientists to use powerful information technologies designed by engineers. Both kinds of professionals can thereby accomplish investigations and analyses and build complex models, which might otherwise be out of the question. (NRC Framework, 2012, p. 65) 

Explain how your students

  • Use digital tools (e.g., computers) to analyze very large data sets for patterns and trends.
  • Use mathematical representations to describe and/or support scientific conclusions and design solutions.
  • Create algorithms (a series of ordered steps) to solve a problem.
  • Apply mathematical concepts and/or processes (such as ratio, rate, percent, basic operations, and simple algebra) to scientific and engineering questions and problems.
  • Use digital tools and/or mathematical concepts and arguments to test and compare proposed solutions to an engineering design problem.
  • Identify patterns in large data sets and using mathematical concepts to support explanations and arguments.
  • Use mathematics and computational thinking in science activities that exist due to a collaboration between a mathematics and a science teacher.
July/August 2021: Visual Literacy

Submission deadline: December 1, 2020

More than ever before, students are bombarded with visuals. Our students need to be able to read and write visual information and to think and solve problems which are visual in nature.  Several images come to mind when we think about visual literacy. When considering science statistics and data, we may consider charts, diagrams, graphs, and tables. In reading about science, there may be photos, drawings, labeled diagrams, maps, and so on used to clarify concepts. We can't take for granted that students  are able to understand, analyze, decode, and interpret each image that they encounter. Students must also be taught how to create visuals that support their claims and clarify their work.

Share with Science Scope readers how your students develop visual literacy in the context of the experiences. Tell us how you:

  • Identify the various points at which visual literacy is successfully identified, reinforced, applied, and revisited. Sequence your approach and share the rationale for that progression.
  • Provide scaffolding to your students to help them accurately associate visuals with objects, events, and concepts.
  • Explain and provide examples of the tools you use to support students in acquiring a working understanding of specific visuals.
  • Provide suggestions for modifying lessons for students with learning challenges.
  • Use photographs in the classroom to teach inference.
  • Use critical thinking to analyze visual literacy components accompanying news content.
  • Use bogus websites to teach students how to evaluate fake claims.
  • Describe visual models created by students and how they are used to develop understanding of core ideas.
September/October 2021: Creativity in the Science Classroom

Submission deadline: February 1, 2021

Although creativity is often associated with the arts, it plays an integral role in science. By focusing on vocabulary and concepts, we may inadvertently send the message that creativity has no role in science. Nothing could be further from the truth, as science itself is a creative quest since scientists ask questions for which they don’t already know the answer. Creativity in science, however, should not be confused with artistic ability. Artistic creativity, such as the creation of a model is not the same as scientific creativity in which scientists and engineers us creativity to solve problems by generating and connecting ideas.

Tell Science Scope readers how you

  • Foster an attitude of risk-taking and an acceptance of making mistakes.
  • Get students to think like scientists, generate ideas, and prioritize actions.
  • Ask students to require novel ways to solve problems.
  • Use problem solving in your classroom.
  • Use investigations that support creative thinking.
  • Utilize brainstorming to generate and evaluate multiple ideas.
  • Base creative thinking on science content knowledge.
  • Engage students in divergent thinking, imagery, and visualization.
  • Incorporate discussions and/or activities related to future events and possibilities.
  • Promote collaborative interaction that results in thinking imaginatively and divergently.
  • Assess creativity.
  • Provide an environment that increases the possibilities for creativity to emerge.
November/December 2021: Professional Development

Submission deadline: April 1, 2021

Science teachers require meaningful research-based professional development (PD) that is content and pedagogically focused. Well-designed PD promotes the development of professional learning communities, supports teacher leadership, and focuses on the growth and development of teachers in relation to effective classroom teaching and learning. Although districts may provide PD for their teachers, many teachers seek out PD opportunities on their own during the summer or school year with the intention of strengthening their practices. Science teachers are particularly fortunate because there exists a wealth of opportunities available, such as teacher researcher opportunities, NSTA conferences, field experiences, online opportunities, and more.

Describe how you have experienced success with incorporating PD opportunities in the classroom when

  • Working with other teachers to build progressions across the grade bands.
  • Participating in PLCs to plan vertically and/or horizontally in response to the NGSS.
  • Identifying quality professional development opportunities for middle school science teachers.
  • Keeping up with new technology and content.
  • Using social media to connect with other science teaching professionals or researchers.
  • Using membership organizations like NSTA to hone your practice.
  • Working with a team to develop strategies that optimize learning for all.
  • Serving as an expert teacher or mentor.
  • Connecting with researchers in order to bring their expertise into your classroom.
  • Modifying protocols learned in field experiences to classroom investigations.
  • Participating in technology-facilitated opportunities for professional learning and coaching.
  • Developing professional development opportunities for others.
  • Partnering with parents, the community, scientists, university faculty, and/or informal science organizations.
January/February 2022: Science Teaching Challenges

Submission deadline: June 1, 2021

Numerous challenges face science teachers today, including rapidly changing demographics, shortages of funds, and a lack of qualified science teachers. You may find yourself teaching a subject outside your area of expertise, struggling to find the time to prepare labs, or experience difficulty in identifying appropriate teaching resources. All of this means that there’s never enough time in the day to complete all of your teaching tasks, much less keep up with cutting-edge information.

Science Scope readers want to know your tips for

  • Making lessons meaningful.
  • Maintaining a safe and supportive environment despite a large class size.
  • Explaining hard to understand or abstract concepts.
  • Teaching outside your area of expertise, including how to expand activities, ask higher-level questions, detect students’ misconceptions, and deal effectively with students’ difficulties.
  • Teaching on a cart.
  • Dealing with controversial subjects.
  • Keeping up with cutting edge science.
  • Maximizing time when planning lessons, setting up labs, and assessing.
  • Locating knowledge regarding the implementation of new lab activities, including safety details.
  • Incorporating lab work when dealing with budget constraints.
  • Providing alternative assignments for students who are absent on lab days.
March/April 2022: Creating A Classroom Community

Submission deadline: August 1, 2021

Manuscripts unrelated to the theme are always welcome!

No matter how good we are at teaching to the standards, central to the success of our lessons is classroom community. Students need to feel connected to their class, feel valued as individuals, and feel safe to make mistakes as they learn. Science Scope readers want to know how you:

  • Use science to develop a positive classroom community
  • Promote a safe environment for all in terms of both lab safety and emotional safety
  • Teach team-building skills essential for group work
  • Teach and reinforce classroom expectations and class norms
  • Promote positive mindsets
  • Incorporate wellness, meditation, or other strategies for alleviating stress and anxiety among your students
  • Help students feel connected to the teacher and each other
  • Use cooperative learning strategies to create a positive classroom environment
  • Model behaviors of trust and caring
  • Help your students resolve conflict
  • Use talk moves to facilitate positive discussions
  • Use class norms when exploring or explaining phenomena
May/June 2022: LS3: Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits

Submission deadline: October 1, 2021

Manuscripts unrelated to the theme are always welcome!

MS-LS3 deals with growth and development of organisms, inheritance of traits, and variation of traits. Whether you are discussing the reproduction of organisms, the role of genes and how mutations impact protein structure, or the variation that results from genetic differences, students are typically fascinated with the topic of heredity. As you help your students develop their understanding of these topics, how do you:

  • Help your students visualize, model, and explain how structure and function are related
  • Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence that plants and animals have traits inherited from parents and that variation of these traits exists in a group of similar organisms
  • Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment
  • Support your students in developing a model (e.g., Punnett squares, diagrams, simulations) for a given phenomenon involving the differences in genetic variation that arise from sexual and asexual reproduction
  • Assess student application of models to describe a causal account for why sexual and asexual reproduction result in different amounts of genetic variation in offspring relative to their parents
  • Use cause-and-effect relationships to predict that more genetic variation occurs in organisms that reproduce sexually compared to organisms that reproduce asexually
  • Use manipulatives, technology, games, or other approaches to meet the performance indicators
  • Modify instruction for advanced or struggling learners
July/August 2022: MS-PS3: Energy

Submission deadline: December 1, 2021

Manuscripts unrelated to the theme are always welcome!

Energy—it is a pivotal topic for students to explore and is one that the Framework identifies as being essential to science. Although the NGSS identifies Energy as a physical science standard (MS-PS3), topics related to the teaching of energy encompass every science discipline. Performance expectations involving energy concepts include investigations and modeling related to kinetic energy, conservation of energy, and energy in chemical processes and everyday life. How do you integrate this important concept in your teaching? Share your ideas by telling Science Scope readers how your students

  • Use models to teach concepts related to energy use
  • Develop an understanding of the connection between energy and renewable and nonrenewable resources
  • Model how chemical energy is essential to life processes
  • Use simulations to describe the relationship of kinetic energy to the mass and speed of an object
  • Apply engineering concepts to the design, construction, and testing of a device that minimizes or maximizes therm
  • Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object
  • Construct and interpret graphical displays of data to describe the relationships of kinetic energy to the mass of an object and to the speed of an object
  • Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system
  • Plan an investigation to determine the relationships among the energy transferred, the type of matter, the mass, and the change in the average kinetic energy of the particles as measured by the temperature of the sample
  • Track energy flows through a natural or designed system
September/October 2022: MS-ESS1: Earth’s Place in the Universe

Submission deadline: February 1, 2022

Manuscripts unrelated to the theme are always welcome!

Most students are fascinated with astronomy; the intersection between astronomy, mathematics, and mythology mark it as unique among the sciences. Astronomy, however, can be a challenging topic to teach because it is an inherently observational science; direct experiments with celestial objects are not possible. Tell Science Scope readers how you overcome this challenge to engage your students in

  • Developing and using a model of the Earth-sun-moon system to describe the cyclic patterns of lunar phases, eclipses of the sun and moon, and seasons
  • Observing, describing, predicting, and explaining patterns of the apparent motion of the sun, the moon, and stars in the sky with models
  • Developing a model (e.g., physical, conceptual, graphical) of the Earth-moon-sun system in which they identify the relevant components and the relationship between components
  • Using patterns observed from models to provide causal accounts for events such as moon phases, eclipses, seasons
  • Developing and using a model to describe the role of gravity in the motions within galaxies and the solar system
  • Analyzing and interpreting data to determine scale properties of objects in the solar system.
  • Organizing given data on solar system objects (e.g., surface features, object layers, orbital radii) from various Earth- and space-based instruments to allow for analysis and interpretation (e.g., transforming tabular data into pictures, diagrams, graphs, or physical models that illustrate changes in scale)
  • Using quantitative analyses to describe similarities and differences among solar system objects by describing patterns of features of those objects at different scales
November/December 2022: Integrating SEPs and CCCs

Submission deadline: April 1, 2022

Manuscripts unrelated to the theme are always welcome!

The NGSS call for three dimensional learning, or the intentional integration of Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs), Crosscutting Concepts (CCCs), and Scientific and Engineering Practices (SEPs). This integration moves us away from teaching science as a series of facts and towards a vision where all students engage in SEPs and apply CCCs to deepen their understanding of core ideas. Tell Science Scope readers how you:

  • Make explicit the connections between the DCI, the SEPs, and the CCCs
  • Determine the specific SEPs and CCCs best support a unit of instruction
  • Highlight a specific DCI using SEPs and CCCs
  • Use SEPs and CCCs to explore and explain phenomena
  • Integrate SEPs and CCCs into assessment
  • Utilize SEPs and CCCs when your students are designing solutions to problems
January/February 2023: MS-LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

Submission deadline: June 1, 2022

Manuscripts unrelated to the theme are always welcome!

MS-LS2 explores how organisms interact with each other and their physical environment. Concepts such as “how organisms obtain resources, how they change their environment, how changing environmental factors affect organisms and ecosystems, how social interactions and group behavior play out within and between species, and how these factors all combine to determine ecosystem functioning” (Framework, p. 140). How do your students

  • Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem?
  • Organize the given data (e.g., using tables, graphs, and charts) to allow for analysis and interpretation of relationships between resource availability and organisms in an ecosystem?
  • Use cause and effect to predict phenomena in natural systems?
  • Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems?
  • Articulate a statement that relates the given phenomenon to a scientific idea, including that similar patterns of interactions occur between organisms and their environment, regardless of the ecosystem or the species involved?
  • Describe quantitative or qualitative patterns of interactions among organisms that can be used to identify causal relationships within ecosystems, related to the given phenomenon?
  • Use patterns in the evidence to predict common interactions among organisms in ecosystems?
  • Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem?
March/April 2023: PS2: Matter and Its Interactions

Submission deadline: August 1, 2022

Manuscripts unrelated to the theme are always welcome!

MS-PS1 includes disciplinary core ideas related to structure and properties of matter, chemical reactions, and definitions of energy. Share with us how your students...

  • Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures
  • Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred
  • Gather and make sense of information to describe that synthetic materials come from natural resources and impact society
  • Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed 
  • Develop and use a model to describe how the total number of atoms does not change in a chemical reaction and thus mass is conserved
  • Undertake a design project to construct, test, and modify a device that either releases or absorbs thermal energy by chemical processes
May/June 2023: Using Coding and 3D Printing to Support Science and Engineering

Submission deadline: October 1, 2022

Manuscripts unrelated to the theme are always welcome!

The NGSS calls for students to demonstrate their understanding of science through the application of engineering practices. Specifically, middle school students are expected to develop solutions to problems, specify criteria and constraints of successful solutions, and to optimize their solution through testing and refinement. Coding and 3D printing are among the tools that can support engineering. Share with us how you or your students

  • Use coding to design predictive models
  • Employ 3D printing for producing prototypes which are tested and revised
  • Use coding to create interactives games, simulations, or modules
  • Create 3D printed models to use when supporting argumentation
  • Apply 3D printing and coding to open-ended challenges, competitions, and investigate real world challenges
  • Modify instruction using 3D printing and coding
  • Support students in learning new technologies
  • Use 3D printing or coding to further student understanding of science
  • Use 3D printing or coding to explore or explain phenomena
July/August 2023: Differentiation in All Environments

Submission deadline: December 1, 2022

Manuscripts unrelated to the theme are always welcome!

The NGSS were written for all students; Appendix D of the NGSS calls us to ensure that all standards are accessible to all students. We are all familiar with the idea of differentiating for our learners, but what does that look like in the various settings in which science occurs? Differentiation is challenging when one considers the variety of learners we have in our classrooms. They include special education students, gifted students, students with physical challenges, English learners, students with emotional needs, economically disadvantaged students, minority students, and students in alternative settings (just to name a few!). Science Scope readers want to know how you ensure equity for all students. How do you ensure equity when

  • Conducting lab work
  • Differentiating for field work
  • Modifying assignments and assessments for varying levels of ability
  • Teaching online
  • Attending field trips
  • Teaching in an alternative school
  • Meeting the needs of students who are chronically ill or have physical challenges
  • Addressing the needs of students who are suspended from school
  • Dealing with students who have extreme anxiety or emotional needs
  • Using technology such as sensors, tablets, etc.
  • Learning Management Systems (such as Google Classroom) are a part of your class routine
  • Working with homeless students
  • Modifying for English learners
  • Working with students who may be new to your district and have knowledge gaps
  • Differentiating for children of migrant families who move frequently
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