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Week of April 26, 2010

Table of Contents

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NASA and NSTA Send Teachers Flying for Science in Microgravity

NASA and the National Science Teachers Association have selected high school teachers from Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, and Washington to fly an experiment in microgravity.

This flight opportunity will allow high school teachers and students to propose, design, fabricate, and evaluate an experiment the teachers will fly in a reduced-gravity environment. The overall experience will include scientific research, hands-on design and test operations aboard a modified Boeing 727 jetliner. Zero-Gravity Corp. of Las Vegas will conduct the flights the week of July 29 to Aug. 7 in cooperation with the Reduced Gravity Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

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Districts Warn of Deeper Teacher Cuts

School districts nationwide are bracing for a bleak fall according to U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan amid reports from a number of key media outlets that schools continue to be hit hard by the recession.

The New York Times reports: “School districts around the country, forced to resort to drastic money-saving measures, are warning hundreds of thousands of teachers that their jobs may be eliminated in June. The districts have no choice, they say, because their usual sources of revenue—state money and local property taxes—have been hit hard by the recession. In addition, federal stimulus money earmarked for education has been mostly used up this year. … As a result, the 2010–11 school term is shaping up as one of the most austere in the last half century. In addition to teacher layoffs, districts are planning to close schools, cut programs, enlarge classes and shorten the school day, week or year to save money."

“We are gravely concerned that the kind of state and local budget threats our schools face today will put our hard-earned reforms at risk,” Secretary Duncan told a recent Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Department of Education’s budget.

According to the Department, although there are no firm estimates, some forecasts say that between 100,000 and 300,000 education jobs are at risk. Duncan asked Congress to consider another round of emergency support for America’s schools, similar to the aid provided to states through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act during the ‘08–’09 and ‘09–’10 school years.

Also, on April 14, a bill was introduced by Senator Tom Harkin that would create an "education jobs fund" to provide $23 billion to states to create or save education positions in both K–12 public schools and public institutes of higher education.

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Alternative Path for Teachers Gains Ground, Says New York Times

The New York Times last week explored alternative certification for teachers and a proposal before the New York State Board of Regents that would allow alternative certification programs—like Teach for America—to create their own master's programs, which would be awarded by the Regents.

Writes Times reporter Lisa W. Foderaro: "Not long ago education schools had a virtual monopoly on the teaching profession. They dictated how and when people became teachers by offering coursework, arranging apprenticeships and granting master's degrees … But now those schools are feeling under siege. Officials in Washington, D.C., and New York State, where some of the best-known education schools are located, have stepped up criticisms that the schools are still too focused on theory and not enough on the craft of effective teaching … In an ever-tightening job market, their graduates are competing with the products of alternative programs like Teach for America, which puts recent college graduates into teaching jobs without previous teaching experience or education coursework."

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From the NSTA Calendar—A Week of Webinars

Treat yourself to these free online events.

NSTA Web Seminar—Teaching Science with Food Safety. On April 27, NSTA will present the second of two events featuring scientists and education specialists from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These seminars are related to the FDA Symposium held at the NSTA National Conference in Philadelphia. Presenters will share their science expertise, answer questions, and provide information about websites students can use in the classroom. The seminar will take place 6:30 p.m.–8 p.m. Eastern Time (ET). Register at the NSTA Learning Center.

NSTA Web Seminar—Predicting Future Climate and Considering Solutions. Learn how climate models run on supercomputers are used to predict the future of Earth’s climate. Participants in this April 28 event will also consider examples of climate change adaptation and mitigation solutions being implemented by governments and individuals. The seminar will feature classroom activities and a web-based interactive module that gets students thinking about energy use and its effect on climate. Taking place 6:30 p.m.–8 p.m. ET, this seminar is part of a series for secondary educators from the Office of Education and Outreach at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. Register at the NSTA Learning Center.

NASA's Digital Learning Network (DLN) Videoconference—MoonWorld. From 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on April 28, the NASA-sponsored Classroom of the Future will be demonstrating its MoonWorld virtual lunar environment. Learn more at the NASA website.

NASA National Lab Day Webcast—The Moon. Aerospace Education Specialist Brandon Hargis will demonstrate how to teach students to become Moon engineers. Students will design and build a solar hot water heater. This April 29 webcast targets teachers of grades 6–12 and will take place from 4 to 5 p.m. Details at the NASA website.

NASA/NABSE Webcast—Global Warming: Causes and Consequences. On April 30 at 1 p.m. ET, Dr. Joel Levine will discuss the causes and consequences of global warming. This one-hour webcast is part of the NASA Langley Research Center/National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE) Lecture Series for 2010. The series is targeted to students in grades 6–10; visit the NASA website to learn more. (After viewing the webcast, e-mail qlawson@nabse.org with your name, school name, school district, and some thoughts on how the webcast benefitted you.)

Visit the NSTA online calendar any time, day or night, for more science education opportunities.

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New from NSTA Press®: Brain-Powered Science

Brain-Powered Science is an ideal resource for middle and high school teachers looking to encourage inquiry-based thinking. Using experiments based on the science of a "discrepant event"—an experiment or demonstration in which the outcome is not what students expect—hands-on activities motivate students to reconsider preconceived notions and think about what has actually occurred.

Author Thomas O'Brian invites teachers to actively participate in the thought-provoking demonstrations to question and revise their own assumptions about the nature of science, teaching and learning. The dual-purpose activities, which are each analogous to a pedagogical principle, will uncover unpredicted results for both student and teacher, leading to a deeper understanding of science concepts.

Also included are more than 200 up-to-date internet resources, as well as extensions to each of the physical science, biology, and chemistry activities—bringing the total number to nearly 120. Most importantly this text reminds teachers that the study of science is full of surprise and should be both meaningful and fun for students.

Visit the NSTA Science Store to read a sample chapter and to order.

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NSTA's eConference Center Offers a Learning Experience from Your Laptop

Professional development via the National Conference on Science Education in Philadelphia that took place in March 2010 is still available. You can purchase access to NSTA’s eConference Center—a repository of 18 featured presentations by leading science educators and professional development experts who entertained and informed us. You and your school colleagues who missed these discussions on critical issues in education, can view top sessions and speakers and share in the learning. Captured with live audio and delivered with synchronized slides and handouts, you can even download to your iPod or mp3 player for portable listening. We offer this service for conference attendees for $29 and $79 for non attendees. Share it with your colleagues today.

Order by visiting www.softconference.com/nsta. Here are titles of the presentations available.

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Online Science Course Helps Those Teaching Out of Field

A new online course offers three graduate credits and enhanced content knowledge to high school science teachers who are teaching out of their field of endorsement. "Across the Sciences" is a full-semester online graduate course designed for grade 9 and 10 teachers.

Thirty teachers will be chosen for the summer 2010 pilot program. Those who are chosen to participate must pay a $200 registration fee, which is returned upon successful completion and evaluation of the course, at which time the three graduate credits from Montana State University are awarded.

The course is offered by Oregon Public Broadcasting and Biological Sciences Curriculum Study in cooperation with the National Teachers Enhancement Network (NTEN) of Montana State University. Through online video, computer simulations, assessments and reflective activities, teachers will gain content knowledge and teaching strategies in biology, physics, chemistry, astronomy, and Earth science.

For more information and application materials, visit this website. The number of participants is limited, so interested teachers are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

For more NTEN courses, visit www.scienceteacher.org or call (800) 282-6062 at Montana State University.

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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 April featured book, Forestry Field Studies: A Manual for Science Teachers.

Click on the logo above for more information and to register for 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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