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Week of September 20, 2010

Table of Contents

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NSTA Legislative Update: President Obama Announces Major Expansion of Educate to Innovate Campaign to Improve STEM Education

On September 16, President Obama announced the launch of Change the Equation, a CEO-led effort to dramatically improve STEM education that will be part of the Administration’s Educate to Innovate campaign. Also that day the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released the Presidents Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) final report on actions the federal government can take to strengthen STEM education. The report goes directly to President Obama and is sure to have an impact on future policy and funding decisions. Also last week the National Science Board released a report and recommended ways that the country can foster the development of our next generation of leading STEM professionals, entrepreneurs, and inventors.

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Member Input Sought on Draft Position Statement—Teaching Science and Technology in the Context of Societal and Personal Issues

A team of science educators recently updated and revised an NSTA position statement advocating for K–16 science instruction to be provided within the context of personal and societal issues. The statement recognizes the influence that science and technology have on our lives, and how these issues provide a rich and motivating context in which students can learn the principles and practices of science and technology. The draft statement gives recommendations on what students should know and be able to do and how science instruction should occur within the context of societal and personal issues.

NSTA encourages feedback from members before the draft document is adopted by the NSTA Board of Directors. Please tell us what you think by viewing the draft statement here and submitting your comments here. Comments must be received by October 4.

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NSTA Career Center

STEM is Big in Baltimore, NSTA's Conference on Science Education

Thousands of science educators will head to Baltimore Nov. 11–13, 2010, to meet colleagues and enjoy top-notch professional development. This personal growth and career-enhancing opportunity will be interesting and lots of fun. Building Tomorrow’s Workforce: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) is just one of three strands, and workshops and presentations that fall into this category include some of the following sessions:

  • Systemic STEM Best Practices in the Middle School Trenches
  • Implementing a Successful High School Biomedical Sciences Program
  • Building a Well-informed Workforce for Our Future, Grades 4–9 (Ticketed Short Course)
  • Food Chemistry, Elementary
  • STEM: It's Elementary!
  • Featured Presentation: Where Dreams Really Do Become Reality: DARPA and the Future Workplace by Col. Geoffrey Ling (Program Manager, Defense Sciences Office, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)
  • A Science Research Program for Gifted Middle School Students
  • STEM Academy (High School)
  • Moving Toward STEM Literacy: A Model for Middle School
  • Ocean, Coasts and Climate Education for Teachers: NOAA/NSTA Professional Development Tools
  • Model My Watershed: A "Backyard" Cyber-learning Experience—An online gaming technology that uses GIS data and Google Earth technologies to explore, investigate, and model your own backyard. (High School)
  • Mars Education Student Data Teams: Students Explore the Red Planet—Learn about how students work alongside scientists to analyze Mars data via online tools. STEM skills are honed, and students are inspired to pursue STEM careers through innovative programming. (High School–College)

With more than 400 sessions to choose from, attendees in every grade band will get practical, hands-on techniques and strategies, learn new content knowledge, tackle issues such as assessment and inquiry-based teaching, and have a chance to network with experts and science-passionate peers. Short courses, discipline-specific daylong programs, and the Exhibit Hall are all part of the experience. To view the entire program, visit www.nsta.org/baltimore and use the personal scheduler. The earlybird deadline is September 22. Register now to save the most.

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Disney's Planet Challenge Kicks Off Year Two, Expands to Middle Schools

Disney's Planet Challenge logoLast week, Disney announced the launch of the second annual Disney’s Planet Challenge, a free project-based environmental and science competition for classrooms nationwide. Formerly open to 4th through 6th grade classrooms, Disney’s Planet Challenge is being expanded to include two tracks: one for elementary schools grades 3–5, and another for middle schools grades 6–8.  The middle school curriculum will offer an increased focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.

Developed in collaboration with NSTA and the K–12 Alliance, the Challenge offers students the chance to use their imagination and creativity to help the planet while giving educators a fresh new way to motivate students with the help of an educationally sound curriculum that meets national and state guideline requirements.

The national grand prize–winning elementary school class will enjoy a celebration at Disneyland® Resort while middle school national winners will earn a $20,000 grant for their school. Both grand prize-winning classrooms will be illustrated and appear within a Marvel comic book. Winning teachers will receive a one year NSTA membership. The grand-prize winning educators will also receive an expense-paid trip to the national 2012 NSTA conference where they will be recognized at the NSTA awards banquet.

For more information or to enroll in the program, visit www.Disney.com/planetchallenge. Enrollment is open through December 17, 2010.

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Kansas City Conference on Science Education

Thousands of science teachers and administrators will be headed to Kansas City, Oct. 28–30, to build new skills and strategies for the classroom. Workshops, seminars, short courses and nationally-known presenters will inspire and instruct on a wide range of topics. One of three critically important strands, Scientific Innovation: Applying Science in the Real World, will provide teachers with hands-on experiences to make science relevant to their students through real-world connections. Consider the following planned sessions included in this strand:

  • Science Education Partnerships: Lessons from the K-State Olathe Innovation Campus—Featured Presentation
  • Wind Energy Science for the Classroom—Learn how to bring wind energy science into your classroom using standards-based activities in a hands-on manner. (Ticketed Short Course, Middle-High School)
  • Engineering Modeling—Using scale models of airplanes, students learn the applications of scaling using ratios and proportions. (Elem–High)
  • Real-World Environmental Education Through Community Partnerships (Middle-High)
  • Solids: The Neglected "State" of Chemistry—Hands-on activities using solid materials (ceramics, metals, polymers) make concepts easier to teach/learn. Handouts. (High School)
  • Environmental Physical Science for Middle School—Teach circuits, energy transfer, heat, and green building using engineering and the environment. (Elem–High)
  • Small Bodies, Big Concepts: Planetary Science—NASA's Missions of Discovery (Dawn, Stardust-NExT, EPOXI and Discovery) that are currently zooming to comets and asteroids and enrich your students' conception of our solar system. (Elem–Middle School)
  • EPA Tools for Teachers for Air Quality and Climate Change Education—We will demonstrate seven online tools for teachers, including Air Pollution: What's the Solution, which features real-time data; Smog City 2, the Air Quality Index Toolkit for Teachers; and the Climate Change, Wildlife, and Wildlands Toolkit. (Middle–High)
  • City of Materials: Connecting Science to the "Stuff" in Kids' Lives—Discover an interactive STEM website for middle school students that connects science and engineering to their everyday world. See correlating demonstrations and labs for teachers.

With more than 400 sessions to choose from, attendees can opt for discipline-specific daylong programs, interesting field trips, the Exhibit Hall for viewing cutting-edge products, the Science Bookstore, and more. Visit www.nsta.org/kansascity to check out the personal scheduler and to register.

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Lab Out Loud is Back!

Lab Out Loud kicks off its fourth season with an interview from John Linnell of "They Might Be Giants." In episode 49 (airing September 20), John talks to us about science and music with their recent album Here Comes the Science.

On October 4, listen to Kari Byron (from the MythBusters) discuss her new show Head Rush. Airing after school and Saturdays, Head Rush provides a commercial-free hour of MythBusters mashups.

Lab Out Loud is a biweekly podcast hosted by science teachers Brian Bartel and Dale Basler. Lab Out Loud discusses science news and science education with leading scientists, researchers, science writers, and other important figures in the field. A selection of links and notes accompanies each episode, enabling the listener to dig deeper into the topics discussed.  Listen to each episode and find out more information at www.laboutloud.com.

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Earn a Master's Degree from the University of Maryland

Designed for middle and high school science teachers, the University of Maryland's Master of Chemical and Life Sciences expands your knowledge, updates your expertise, and advances your career. The 30-credit, content-based, professional master’s program offers in-depth knowledge of current research areas in the biological, biochemical, and biomedical sciences. Aside from laboratory experience, courses are offered exclusively online, benefiting working professionals with flexibility, convenience, and accessibility. Dynamic faculty with academic credentials and experience deliver a better understanding of major science concepts in an interactive environment. 

Find out more! Visit the University of Maryland website.

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Sponsored by:

Delta Education

Chemical Heritage Foundation

Exemplary Science for Resolving Societal Challenges

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Professional development courses in your future?
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