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Week of January 19, 2009

Table of Contents

Informal Settings Can Boost Science Learning

Informal science experiences, such as visiting museums and aquariums, attending after-school programs, and watching television shows, can spark curiosity and interest in science and improve science learning outcomes for students and adults, according to a new report released last week by the National Research Council.

The report, “Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits,” also identifies six “strands” of science learning that can be supported through informal science education and discusses how to broaden participation in science learning. The last section of the report focuses on how to organize, design, and support science learning in informal environments. Click here to access the full report.

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House Leadership Introduces Economic Stimulus Package

"The economy is in a crisis not seen since the Great Depression." Thus begins the summary text of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009, the stimulus package introduced by House Democrats last week as "the first crucial step in a concerted effort to create and save 3 to 4 million jobs, jumpstart our economy, and begin the process of transforming it for the 21st century with $275 billion in economic recovery tax cuts and $550 billion in thoughtful and carefully targeted priority investments with unprecedented accountability measures built in." Read more about the stimulus package, including the proposed funding for specific education initiatives, in this issue of the NSTA Legislative Update.

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Invest in Your Future with NSTA

Invest in your future at NSTA’s 56th National Conference on Science Education March 19–22, 2009, in New Orleans. Professional and personal growths are primary objectives for all educators, especially in today’s challenging environment. Attend this conference to gain access to the industry’s leading experts, content knowledge, assessment strategies, inquiry-based lessons and classroom solutions that are relevant to you, whether you’re a first year teacher or veteran. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals, as well as view the latest science products from 400+ exhibitors. You’ll walk away with inspiration and energy that will benefit you and your students for many years to come. Join over 10,000 science educators dedicated to helping you become the best teacher you can be. Register by February 6, 2009, to save the most!

Check out a sampling of our offerings:

  • Featured speakers—from The Planetary Society, Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist, author, and PBS host, and Bill Nye the Science Guy, a comedian, television host, science educator and mechanical engineer.
  • Science & Literacy: Science Content with Informational Reading and Writing—see firsthand how solid science content can be used in conjunction with reading informational text and model writing steps.
  • Photography and Science: A Way to Enhance Student Engagement—photos of ordinary objects and beautiful scenes can be used to illustrate principles of science, particularly physical science. Instructional strategies shared.
  • Sixty Labs You Can Do with Little or No Budget—these chemistry/physics labs can be done with low-cost or homemade equipment.
  • Frontiers of Science in Your Classroom—learn how to understand and incorporate current science publications in classroom discussions. We’ll focus on using primary and secondary literature in high school and college introductory science courses.
  • Take a field trip to NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility to see how the space shuttle external tank is built and take in one of the largest manufacturing plants in the world.
  • Special programs Exemplary Science Program (ESP), International Science Education Day, Teacher Researcher Day, and Informal Science Day.

For the very latest information, be sure to visit the New Orleans conference website.

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Winter Study: Improve Your Knowledge of Physical Science

Register to attend the NSTA Online Short Course: Force and Motion

Teachers will love this online short course on Force and Motion. If you’re teaching grades 3-9, you can build your background through NSTA’s live web sessions beginning Feb. 4, 2009 and on the following four consecutive Wednesdays (2/11, 2/18, 2/25, and 3/4) in the evening under the guidance of Dr. Matt Bobrowksy. Participants will strengthen their physical science concepts through asynchronous learning for an hour and a half each week.

The virtual classroom of students, the instructor Dr. Bobrowksy, and NSTA staff will share comments about the topic and pose and answer questions. Follow up weekly discussions are posted on the course listserv, and self-paced completion of corresponding course materials (SciPack, SciGuide, e-book, and journal articles) all contribute to boosting knowledge of the subject.

Consider a comment from a previous Michigan teacher/attendee: “I really like the interaction available for each participant. The ability to hear the presenters and participants and use a whiteboard is extremely helpful.”—Elementary School Teacher, Michigan

Fees include all materials:

Member rate: $322.50
Nonmember rate: $367.00

Two graduate professional development credits from the University of Idaho can be earned for an additional fee. For more details and to register, visit the NSTA Learning Center.

Questions? Write to ptingler@nsta.org.

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Upcoming Atlas of Science Literacy Workshops

Science Mapping Workshop for Informal Science Educators
For some new perspectives on making your programs and exhibits more relevant to K–12 teachers and students, please attend this new workshop designed especially for science center and museum staff who work with school-based audiences. You’ll learn how to use the Atlas of Science Literacy strand maps and other Project 2061 resources to view your programs and exhibits through a new lens. “Using Atlas of Science Literacy in Informal Science Learning Settings” will be held at the Museum of Science and Technology (MOSI), Chicago, IL, March 11–13.

Using Atlas of Science Literacy
Designed for K–12 science teachers, curriculum specialists, and other educators and researchers, the workshop demonstrates how participants can use the conceptual strand maps in Atlas 1 and Atlas 2, along with other Project 2061 resources, to enhance their own understanding of science literacy and take a benchmarks-based approach to helping all students achieve literacy in science, mathematics, and technology. Atlas of Science Literacy is copublished by AAAS and NSTA. Participate at any of the following locations:

Scholarships and Early Bird rates are available, but registration is limited. For more details and a registration form, please visit the workshop information page, and check the Project 2061 website often for the most up-to-date information. If your institution would like to cohost a workshop, download this document (PDF) for more details. And finally, to receive a free e-newsletter and receive automatic updates on workshops and other Project 2061 news, sign up online.

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What's Your Take on Web 2.0?

NSTA delivers a growing amount of content via "social media" (blogs, podcasts, wikis, etc.). But teachers tell us that many schools block access to such content. Please complete this brief survey (seven questions) to help us learn more about your access to the new media offered by "Web 2.0."

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Field Study in Costa Rica

The NSTA International Committee would like to present this opportunity to join us for an Introduction to Global Inquiry and Investigation: A Costa Rican Field Study, July 19–28, 2009. This 10-day professional development workshop offers NSTA members and others an exceptional opportunity to explore key themes of science, education, government and culture through hands-on practice and experiential design.

Participants will

  • Gain experience in applied field research and observation in the tropics
  • Build knowledge through comparative ecosystem analysis
  • Analyze educational practices within urban and rural education systems
  • Network with individuals and organizations focusing on conservation and sustainable development
  • Challenge perspectives through cultural exchange

Working with top officials in education, research and government, participants will meet:

President Dr. Rodrigo Carazo (Former President)
Director of the Organization for Tropical Studies (Duke University)
Dr. Brady Barr (National Geographic—Dangerous Encounters)
Dr. Sherman Thomas Jackson (Professor and Costa Rican Textbook Author)
Erick Vargas—Costa Rica National Biodiversity Institute

The National Science Teachers Association affirms the importance of international collaboration and encourages professional development opportunities for science educators to experience local culture firsthand and related sciences found in other parts of the world. Join us as we celebrate global literacy in science education!

For registration and information, please visit www.holbrooktravel.com/nsta.

MEDUC Graduate Credits and National Science Teaching Correlations are available upon request. Grant eligibility may be available for participation.

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Montana State Courses for Science Educators Still Have Openings

The Master of Science in Science Education (MSSE) Program at Montana State University still has openings available in our spring 2009 online offerings, including Electronic Hydrology, Current Topics in Microbiology, and Biochemistry for Teachers. Students do not have to be enrolled in the degree program to take an online science course.

Looking ahead, summer 2009 MSSE will offer a variety of online and Montana-based graduate level science courses which can be previewed on the MSSE website. The Montana-based courses include a variety of field-based experiences including the Yellowstone ecosystem, Glacier National Park, and the mountains of southwest Montana.

The 30 credit MSSE program is designed specifically for science educators and has a dual focus on science content and science pedagogy.  Programs of study are designed across various science disciplines depending upon your teaching assignment and interests.

For information about MSSE and registration for spring 2009 courses, visit the MSSE website.

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Sponsored by:

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 January featured book, Readings in Science Methods, K–8.

NSTA is offering more Web Seminars in the months ahead. Visit the website for more information and to register to attend these FREE 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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