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Week of January 26, 2009

Table of Contents

NSTA Legislative Alert: Ask Congress to Support the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Sponsored by:

As reported in last week's issue of the NSTA Legislative Update, a far-reaching economic stimulus package that includes substantial funding for education and science initiatives has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. If approved by Congress this package would provide much-needed funding to our schools and for science so science educators are urged to contact their House member and ask him/her to support this legislation.

Learn more about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (and find out how much your district could receive under the stimulus package) and how you can support the President's stimulus package by reading this special NSTA Legislative Alert.

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Evolution Debated Before Texas Education Board

As reported by the Associated Press, experts and activists concerned about the way evolution is taught in Texas' public schools made their case before the state's board of education. A six-member “expert review panel” was split on the proposal to drop language in the current curriculum that requires teachers to address “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theory. A panel of science experts, on the other hand, recommended that students use critical thinking, scientific reasoning, and problem solving to analyze and evaluate scientific explanations. Critics say the use of the word "weaknesses" has been used to undermine the theory of evolution and promote creationism or "intelligent design."

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Destination: New Orleans

NSTA’s National Conference on Science Education

We are celebrating science March 19–22 in New Orleans this year and science teachers, principals, and administrators take note. This premier event brings the finest professional development leaders in the country to share their expertise in teaching strategies, content knowledge, literacy, assessment, inquiry and much more. See a sampling of what’s in store for you, including sessions for all grade bands, all disciplines:

  • Featured Presentation—How Children Learn: Brain Research and Inquiry-based Science by Kenneth Wesson
  • Featured Session—Rain Forests, Medicine Men, and Google Earth: Curing the Incurable and Saving the Amazon in Six Dimensions by Mark Plotkin
  • Featured Session—Brainsense: Learning About the Brain Through Puzzles, Activities, and Optical Illusions by Michael diSpezio
  • Workshop—Climate Change: Classroom Tools to Explore the Past, Present, and Future
  • Workshop—Become an Environmental Investigator and Lead Your Students to an Understanding of Environmental Stewardship
  • Institute (ticketed)—Assessing and Promoting Teachers’ Understanding and Skills in Assessment and Instruction for Student Learning
  • Inquiry and Good Science Instruction—Are They the Same?
  • Earth System Science: Problem-based Learning Courses for Teachers Through ESSEA
  • Developing Literacy and Addressing Content Standards Through Issue-oriented Science

Consider short courses, Informal Science Day, Teacher Researcher Day, field trips to coastal Louisiana to explore ecosystems or to New Orleans Glassworks. Visit our Exhibition Hall to view the newest products and bring home giveaways for your classroom. Best of all, you can earn graduate credit for 12 hours of program attendance.

Register before February 6 to get the lowest rate. Visit the New Orleans conference web pages for details.

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Take the Siemens Challenge and Go Green With Your Students

Time is running short and the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge is encouraging middle school students across the United States to kick off 2009 by “going green” and implementing environmental change in their local communities. The website for this entirely web-based challenge, www.wecanchange.com, is host to lots of kid-friendly activities such as virtual interactive labs, an eco-footprint game, an environmental IQ quiz, online journals, video clips—plus many more resources for both students and adult advisers.

Teams of two to three students in sixth through eighth grade, under the mentorship of a teacher or adult supervisor, will identify an environmental issue in their community, research the issue using scientific investigation, and create a replicable green solution using web-based curriculum tools powered by Discovery Education.

Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge submissions from middle school students will be accepted through March 15, 2009. A total of 51 teams representing each state and the District of Columbia will be selected as state finalists, and an additional 50 teams will be eligible for honorable mention awards. Three of the state finalist teams will be selected as national finalists, and one of those will be named the inaugural grand prize winner. State finalist and national finalist teams will be announced in spring 2009.

All student teams entering the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge will receive prizes for their participation; top-performing teams, as judged by a panel of environmental experts and science educators, will earn cash, teacher education materials, and unique “Discovery Experience” trips. The grand prize-winning team will receive a comprehensive prize package, which includes an appearance on Planet Green (Discovery’s 24-hour eco-lifestyle network) and a once-in-a-lifetime Discovery Adventure Trip, accompanied by a famed Discovery TV personality.

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Everything a College Professor Needs to Know About Assessment

Busy professors can take heart when they choose to use newly released College Science Teachers Guide to Assessment, a monograph comprising 28 peer-reviewed chapters written by the best authors on this important and controversial subject. This quick reference book is divided into four sections:

  1. General assessment topics
  2. Traditional and alternative assessment techniques in both science and science education classroom
  3. A how-to section covering successful classroom tested practices and instruction and rubrics for implementation
  4. General practices to improve assessment

A focus on student reflection after exams, student-led teaching models, and looking at exam corrections from both the instructor and student perspectives reflects a new teaching strategy for today’s college classroom. To download a chapter, visit the NSTA Science Store.

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Calling All Authors!

NSTA’s well-rounded journal publishing program allows individuals to share ideas with thousands of other people who teach science. The content reflects the needs of its audience of classroom teachers, science supervisors and administrators, teacher educators, and parents. Publishing in NSTA’s peer-reviewed journals is your opportunity to make a significant contribution to science programs at your level of practice—elementary school, middle school, high school, or college. Manuscripts should be submitted electronically through our website. For more specific information on what types of manuscripts each journal is looking for, please see the calls for papers for each:

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Take Advantage of Autorenenewal

NSTA members can have their membership dues automatically charged to their credit card each year so that you’ll never miss any of your journals or online newsletters! When renewing or joining, just select the option online under method of payment that says “Automatically renew my membership with my credit card” and you’ll never have to worry about missing a single month’s worth of benefits again!

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Short Takes

  • The latest Lab Out Loud episode
  • The latest movie review from Jacob Clark Blickenstaff
  • A very brief survey on using social networking and other online tools (“Web 2.0”) in science education (your participation will be much appreciated!)

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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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