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Week of October 13, 2008

Table of Contents

NSTA Express Poll: What Are the Barriers to Improving Student Achievement?

NSTA wants to know—what do you think are the barriers to improving student achievement in science. Is it classroom time devoted to science instruction, support from administrators, or maybe lack of support from parents? Please take this short survey—only a few quick questions—and we’ll share the results with you in an upcoming issue of Express. Thanks for your participation!

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Leading Maryland Science Educator Joins NSTA Senior Leadership Team

NSTA is pleased to announce that Zipporah Miller, former K–12 science supervisor and STEM coordinator for the Prince George’s County (MD) Public School District, is NSTA’s new associate executive director for professional programs and conferences.

Miller will lead the Association’s efforts in providing professional development and e-learning opportunities to teachers of science nationwide. She will directly oversee NSTA’s regional and national conferences, which draw more than 15,000 teachers annually; the NSTA Learning Center, an online portal where thousands of teachers pursue quality professional development resources and specific science content; and the NSTA New Science Teacher Academy for new middle and high school level science teachers.

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News Roundup

The Financial Crisis and Schools

Education Week hosted an online chat on how the financial crisis on Wall Street is trickling down to affect school districts, teachers, and their retirement savings. To get a sense of how this will affect school districts' budgets and education priorities in general, read this transcript of the discussion with John Musso, the executive director of the Association of School Business Officials International, and Dan Otter, who founded and runs a financial education website.

New Alliance to Research Gaming in Math and Science Education

Video games have always had and probably will always have their detractors. But there's a growing movement in academia and industry recognizing the value of this medium as an educational tool both inside and outside the classroom. This week, eight colleges and universities added their inertia to this movement, joining with Microsoft to launch a new alliance to study the benefits of gaming for math and science instruction and STEM equity. Dubbed the "Games for Learning Institute," the consortium is being led by New York University and includes Columbia University, City University of New York (CUNY), Dartmouth College, Parsons, Polytechnic Institute of New York University, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Teachers College. These members are matching an investment from Microsoft Research of $1.5 million to provide a total of $3 million in funding for the effort.

Read the New York Times article (requires free registration)

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Einstein Fellowship—Application Now Open

The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship is a paid fellowship for K-12 math, science, and technology teachers. Einstein Fellows spend a school year in Washington, DC serving in a federal agency or on Capitol Hill. To be considered for an Einstein Fellowship for the 2009–2010 school year, apply and submit three letters of recommendation online by January 13, 2009.

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The "Queen City" Hosts an NSTA Conference

The National Science Teachers Association’s Regional Conference on Science Education is planned for Dec. 4–6 in Cincinnati. You’re invited! Consider the rich agenda that includes presentations, workshops, seminars and full day events that will build your content knowledge, provoke questions, help you develop strategies and techniques for your classroom, school, and district. You’ll network with your peers, learn from the experts and join a community of science educators who will nurture your passion. Here’s a small sample of what you can expect:

  • Hear best selling author Homer Hickam combine heart-stopping storytelling with his inspiration to “do more, go further, dream bigger.“ His book Rocket Boys became the foundation for the movie October Sky.
  • Crazy Creek Capers: Learn how a middle school is implementing a schoolwide water week, where students gather chemical and macroinvertebrate data to determine the water quality of a stream.
  • Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading: Integrating Science and Literacy at the Elementary Level: Gain experience with strategies for integrating inquiry science and literacy. Hear research results that provide compelling evidence that students learn more science when inquiry is supported by reading and writing.
  • Who Infected Whom? Modeling and Applying Cell Biology in Middle School: Join us and experience a hands-on investigation from the new Issues and Life Science Unit, Cell Biology and Disease.
  • Hop into Mathematics and Science Connections: Experience inquiry-based projects exploring data collection, geometry concepts, and science adaptations that achieve both your science and your mathematics content. Free CD of lessons!
  • Learning Chemistry with Software for Molecular-Level Visualization: Attend this hands-on workshop using notebook computers and learn how to remove misconceptions and teach more effectively. Free take-home CD with select demonstrations.
  • Drop the Lecture and Let the Students Pick Up the Learning in AP Science: Water noodle operons, membrane transport enactments, carrying capacity scurry games—could this be AP science? Come see hands-on learning with rigorous AP content.

There are field trips, socials, and sessions for every grade band and discipline. Historically, the teachers’ favorite is the Exhibit Hall, where more than 150 companies bring the newest products and loads of giveaways for those who stop by to chat. Finally, you can earn one graduate credit for 12 hours of attending programs. Check out our website for all the details and to register. Earlybird registration ends Oct. 31. We hope to see you there.

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NASA Scientists Address Five Big Questions in Earth Science for Teachers and Students

Log in during Earth Science Week 2008, Oct. 13–17, as scientists from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center answer the five big Earth science questions. Each day a two-minute video clip of scientists addressing these questions will be featured, along with links to additional Earth science educational resources.

Here is the schedule:

  • Introduction and How is the global Earth system changing? 10/13/08
  • What are the primary forces of the Earth system? 10/14/08
  • How does the Earth system respond to natural and human-induced changes? 10/15/08
  • What are the consequences of change in the Earth system for human civilization? 10/16/08
  • How will the Earth system change in the future? 10/17/08

NASA is a sponsor of Earth Science Week 2008, “No Child Left Inside.” For more information on Earth Science Week, visit www.earthsciweek.org.

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Fun Fright Planned for Science Educators in Charlotte on Halloween

Join your fellow educators for a “night of fright” at the Charlotte Conference on Science Education planned for Oct. 30–Nov. 1! Oozing with chilling thrills and unspeakable horrors, SCarowinds’ Halloween Haunt at Carowinds (ticketed event: $45) features horrific haunted mazes, hundreds of the most gruesome and grotesque creatures ever seen, and the most twisted and terrifying rides on the planet. Also included is a delicious buffet dinner. You won’t find a better way to celebrate Halloween as you mingle with your fellow educators! Click here for more information on this spooky event. Purchase your tickets online.

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And Don’t Forget…

Visit our member services web page to ensure that NSTA has your current contact information.

Visit the NSTA Science Store for an outstanding array of bestselling books and teaching resources. Receive 30% off the price of the October featured book, Help! I'm Teaching Middle School Science.

NSTA is offering more Web Seminars through the autumn months. Visit the website for more information about these upcoming professional development opportunities.


Professional development courses in your future?
Online options give you a world of choice.
Take a look at these groups offering courses for science educators!


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