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Week of March 9, 2009

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Students Benefit from Depth, Rather Than Breadth, in High School Science Courses

Science Daily reports that “researchers have concluded that high school students who study fewer science topics, but study them in greater depth, have an advantage in college science classes over their peers who study more topics and spend less time on each.”

The study’s authors, Robert Tai, associate professor at the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education, Marc S. Schwartz of the University of Texas at Arlington, and Philip M. Sadler and Gerhard Sonnert of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics,  examined over 8,000 college students in introductory biology, chemistry, or physics and found that those who spent one month or more studying one major topic in-depth in high school earned higher grades in college science than their peers who studied more topics in the same period of time.

The study was part of the Factors Influencing College Science Success study, funded by the National Science Foundation.

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Member Input Sought on Draft Position Statement—Parent Involvement in Science Learning

A recently revised NSTA position statement brings attention to the important role of parents and other caregivers in their children's science learning at home, in school, and throughout the community. NSTA believes the involvement of parents is crucial to their children's interest in and ability to learn science, and research shows that when parents play an active role, their children achieve greater success as learners.

A position statement panel—made up of NSTA members who are K–12 science teachers, national leaders from informal science institutions, NSTA Board and Council members, and many others—developed the statement. The NSTA Board approved it and now seeks input from members. Please review the new draft statement and tell us what you think. To view and comment, go to the NSTA Discussion Board and click on Post Reply. (Note: You must register to use the NSTA Discussion Board before posting comments.) Comments must be received by Tuesday, March 24.

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NSTA Honored for Achievements in Space Outreach

Last week, the World Space Week Association (WSWA) held its annual awards reception and recognized several key leaders and organizations for their outstanding achievements in space outreach. Among the awardees, was the National Science Teachers Association, which was honored for its longstanding commitment and continuous efforts in promoting aerospace education among science educators and the general public. The other 2009 honorees include:

  • Bill Nye, scientist, author, and host of The Science Channel’s 100 Greatest Discoveries
  • Lori Garver, president, Capital Space
  • William “Bill” Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for space operations, NASA
  • Dr. Edward Weiler, associate administrator for science, NASA

The event was organized by the WSWA, which globally coordinates UN-declared World Space Week activities, held October 4-10 annually.   During World Space Week, the global space sector works to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, technologists and more and educate the general public about space through synchronized events in over 60 countries. For more information about World Space Week, visit www.worldspaceweek.org.

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Understanding Science, One Website at a Time

A new website funded by the National Science Foundation offers a window to a better understanding about how dynamic and creative the scientific process really is.

Understanding Science is a “fun, accessible, and free resource that accurately communicates what science is and how it really works.” The site, intended for both the general public and K-16 teachers, draws students into real-life examples and looks at the social side of science, science and society, and asks, “What has science done for you lately?” It also provides users with a comprehensive science toolkit. Teacher resources are targeted to specific grade bands.

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New This Spring from NSTA Press®

Uncovering Student Ideas in Science, Volume 4

Wouldn’t it be helpful to know what your students think they know about a science topic before launching into a new unit? Newly released Uncovering Student Ideas in Science, Volume 4, offers 25 more probes to help reveal students’ misconceptions of science fact, bringing the total to 100 probes for the popular series by author Page Keeley. K–12 teachers will find short probes with grade band specifics that provide easy-to-follow steps for uncovering and correcting the scientific misconceptions, opening the door to replace false notions with sound scientific principles. Volume 4 adds to probes in physical, life, and Earth and space science with a new category called “unifying principles.” Also covered is a discussion on balancing formative assessments with summative assessments.

More Everyday Science Mysteries: Stories for Inquiry-Based Science Teaching

This new K–8 book offers fifteen more stories from the author of the original Everyday Science Mysteries that pull students into learning science by inquiring and discovering. Solving each mystery leads to a lesson using an inquiry-based approach, giving students an understanding of how everyday life is connected to science. For example, a story on rotten apples can lead to discussion and discovery of composting and soil formation.  “Pasta in a Hurry” explores boiling temperature and changes that can occur when other substances are added. “The Nose Knows” looks at the role of smell and taste in flavor Teachers, parents who like to do science projects with their children, and especially home schooling parents will love the concept. Each story can be photocopied and distributed to students to read, discuss, and solve.

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Dept. of Gentle Reminders

ExploraVision Ice Cream Social

Attending the NSTA National Conference on Science Education in New Orleans? Then please join us for an ExploraVision Ice Cream Social where you can interact with an ExploraVision Ambassador and other winning coaches. Discover elements of winning ExploraVision projects and succeeding in this leading K–12 science competition while enjoying an afternoon treat and a chance to win a Toshiba laptop. Gain insight into the competition rules, developing innovative project ideas, and getting students involved and recognized. The ExploraVision Ice Cream Social and Information Session will be held on Friday, March 20, from 4:00–5:00 PM at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, Room 352. Visit booth #1035 for more information. Click here (PDF) for a coupon to receive a special prize at the booth.

In-Depth Learning Experiences at the 2009 National Conference

The NSTA Professional Development Division is offering the following in-depth learning experiences at the 2009 National Conference on Science Education on a variety of topics of current significance in science learning and teaching. Preregistration is limited, so act fast!

Next in the series of NSTA Research Dissemination Conferences (RDC): Science Assessment, Linking Science and Literacy, and Science and English Language Learners: What Does Current Research Have to Say About Best Practices?

Date: Saturday, March 21, 2009; 8:00 AM – 3:30 PM
Location: New Orleans—Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, Rooms 343–345
Cost: $295

Featured plenary speakers Peter Dow, chairman, First Hand Learning, Inc., and Michael Klentschy, former superintendant of the El Centro School, will discuss the history of education, best practices, and education reform.

In conjunction with the plenary sessions, breakout sessions will target the interests and needs specific to elementary teachers, secondary teachers, principals, curriculum coordinators, and professional development providers. For more information and to register, please visit the RDC web page.

Professional Development Institutes (PDIs) are daylong, content-based programs that explore key topics in significant depth followed by two days of pathways sessions that offer further exploration of topics covered.

Date and time: Wednesday, March 18, 2009; 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Location: New Orleans—Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
Cost: $295

For more information, and to register, please visit the PDI web pages.

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Project SEED Receives 2009 NSB Public Service Award

The National Science Board (NSB) has selected the American Chemical Society's Project SEED summer research program as a recipient of the 2009 NSB Public Service Award.

This annual award recognizes people and organizations that have increased public understanding of science and engineering. Project SEED (Summer Experiences for the Economically Disadvantaged) summer research program fosters interest in science as a career and encourages achievement in science, mathematics, and engineering among high school students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Established in 1968, it provides summer research opportunities for students in academic, industrial, and government research laboratories under the supervision of volunteer scientists.

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And Don’t Forget…

Visit our member services web page to ensure that NSTA has your current contact information. And when the time comes to renew—select the "Autorenew" option!

Visit the NSTA Science Store for an outstanding array of bestselling books and teaching resources. Receive 30% off the price of the March featured book, All in a Day's Work, 2nd Edition.

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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