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Week of May 18, 2009

Table of Contents

Winning Teams Announced in National Community-Focused Sustainability Competition

NSTA, in partnership with Siemens Foundation and Discovery Education, is thrilled to announce the national winning teams in the first-everSiemens We Can Change the World Challenge environmental sustainability competition. The grand prize winners, team "Dead Weight" from West Branch Middle School in West Branch, Iowa, raised awareness about the dangers of lead wheel weights in tires to help phase out this hazardous material in the tire industry.  The second-place winners, team "Recycle Because You Care" from St. Phillip the Apostle School in Addison, Illinois, recruited nonrecycling households in their community to start recycling and launched a school recycling program. The third-place winners, team "Stewards of the Pamlico Sound" from Cape Hatteras Secondary School of Coastal Studies in Buxton, North Carolina, created an artificial oyster reef to restore the oyster population of Pamlico Sound.

The grand prize-winning team, “Dead Weight,” will receive a comprehensive prize package, which includes an appearance on Planet Green, Discovery’s 24-hour eco-lifestyle network; a once-in-a-lifetime Discovery Adventure Trip accompanied by a Discovery TV personality; a $5,000 U.S. Savings Bond; a chance to present their project before a panel of environmental experts; a flip camera; and a Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge eco-friendly prize pack of school supplies. Information about second- and third-place prizing can be found at the Challenge website.

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Express News Roundup

In the news this past week: the National Governors Association released a new report aimed at helping governors attract and retain effective educators.  The guide recommends that to improve teacher and principal effectiveness governors should selectively recruit prospective teachers and principals to the profession; improve the preservice training of prospective teachers and principals; and work to retain the most effective teachers and principals.

“School policymakers are promoting a new idea for improving the schools: merit pay plans that would tie teachers’ pay to the scores their students earn on standardized math and reading tests. Advocates of this approach base their support on two assumptions: first, that merit pay is long-established and widespread in the private sector, and second, that students’ test scores are a reliable way to gauge how well teachers are doing their jobs. Both assumptions, according to a new research report issued today by the Economic Policy Institute, are faulty.” Read more about how Merit Pay Has Pitfalls for Schools at www.epi.org.

Also last week: Intel Chairman Craig Barrett says US education is lacking, and that the United States needs to rethink its approach to public education. During the interview Barrett called for “doing away” with schools of education.

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PD All Year Long Through NSTA

Professional Learning Communities Institute

NSTA has extended our professional development conferences into the summer months, especially for teachers and their principals who are interested in building a Professional Learning Community. This first-time Institute will be held Aug. 3-5 in Orlando, FL at the Buena Vista Palace Hotel, a great location for enjoying Disney’s marketplace. For just $300 per person, teams will work together to learn what PLCs are, examine different structures for PLCs, and experience a range of science-specific tools and strategies as a function of PLCs. Presentations by Susan Mundry, Kathy Stiles of WestEd and other national leaders will cover various models of PLCs and facilitate planning sessions for implementation in schools and other organizations. For more information and a meeting agenda, visit the NSTA website.

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Vernier Summer Workshops Feature AP Science

Beginning on June 11, Vernier Software & Technology will host 21 hands-on workshops in 15 cities around the United States, giving science and math educators the opportunity to learn techniques for teaching scientific exploration, both in and out of the classroom. Attendees will learn how to integrate computers and the Vernier LabQuest handheld data-collection device into any science or math curriculum. Several workshops will cover experiments required by the College Board for Advanced Placement (AP). See the Vernier website for specific dates and locations.

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Fresh from NSTA Press®

Just released, Hard-to-Teach Biology Concepts is a well-researched book that provides a valuable instructional framework for high school biology teachers as they tackle five particularly challenging concepts in their classrooms—meiosis, photosynthesis, natural selection, proteins and genes, and environmental systems and human impact. Author Susan Koba counsels educators first to identify students’ prior conceptions, especially misconceptions, related to the concept being taught, then to select teaching strategies that best dispel the misunderstandings and promote the greatest student learning.

This 250-page text presents a framework for lesson planning, shares appropriate approaches for developing student understanding, and presents opportunities to reflect and apply those approaches to the five hard-to-teach topics. Teachers will find the list of recommended resources at the end of each chapter provides great support for expanding the learning materials.

To download a sample chapter and order your copy, visit the NSTA Science Store online.

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New Online Environmental Science Course from the Museum of Natural History

Join Seminars on Science in a summer session of our award-winning online graduate courses in the life, earth and physical sciences from the American Museum of Natural History. Seminars on Science courses connect classroom teachers with scientists engaged in current, real-world research. Each course is authored by leading scientists in their fields, and is then co-taught by an experienced researcher affiliated with AMNH.

Our newest course, Water: Environmental Science, delves into the complex relationship between water and the environment. The research of authoring scientist Dr. Eleanor Sterling, Director of AMNH’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, has focused on a range of habitat and conservation issues from the aye-aye (lemur) populations of Madagascar to sea turtle habitats of the equatorial Pacific. Co-author and Fulbright lecturer Dr. Nora Bynum currently focuses on the seasonality and phenology of tropical canopy trees. Together they have created a course that emphasizes the critical role of water on our planet, the impact of human consumption on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and the social, economic, and environmental implications of water management.

In addition to Water, all of our most popular courses are also available for the summer, including Earth: Inside and Out; The Ocean System; The Solar System; Genetics, Genomics, Genethics and Evolution.

Designed for K–12 educators, each six-week course is led by an experienced classroom teacher and a research scientist. In-depth readings and assignments paired with rich web-based discussions assure that educators come away from each class with a deeper understanding of both the science and the tools of scientific inquiry. Each participant receives a CD of course resources suitable for classroom use.

Please see the website for the full course listing. Free sample resources for each course—including essays, videos and interactive simulations—are available online at learn.amnh.org.

Registration for Summer Session One closes May 26! Summer Session One runs June 8–July 19. Summer Session Two runs July 6 August 16. Sign up now and receive a $50 early registration discount. For more information and to register, go to learn.amnh.org or call 800-649-6715.

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NSTA Express Takes a Break

The next issue of NSTA Express you receive will be dated the week of June 1. In the meantime, we invite you to catch up on content at nsta.org you may have missed:

And a quick reminder to NSTA members to drop by the NSTA Communities website. As we retire the NSTA Discussion Board in the near future, NSTA Communities will be the place to gather and share.

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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. 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 May featured book, Science as Inquiry in the Secondary Setting.

Click on the logo to explore the summer of 2009 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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