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Week of September 27, 2010

Table of Contents

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USA Science & Engineering Festival This October Nationwide and in Washington, DC

Coming to the national mall this October and to 50 venues nationwide, the USA Science & Engineering Festival  promises to be the country's largest celebration of science and engineering—a fun, entertaining, educational, and free event geared toward reinvigorating the interest of Americans in the sciences.

The festival is analogous to an art, music, or literary festival but will be focused solely on science and engineering with hands-on demonstrations, fun demos, and presentations including art, music, comedy, film, and theater.

Starting on October 10, the festival will offer over 150 FREE events for the public—all aimed at sparking an interest in science. More than 750 companies, universities, research labs, federal agencies, professional societies, community groups, and science outreach organizations will participate.

The grand finale will be a two-day expo on the National Mall in Washington, DC (and surrounding venues) on October 23–24, 2010—over 1,500 fun, hands-on interactive activities and 75 stage shows for all ages. There will be events and displays for the mildly curious to the science professional. You can learn about fun topics like the science of the magic of Harry Potter, the mathematics of jump roping, the physics of superheroes, the chemistry of Thanksgiving Dinner, the engineering of baseball bats and balls, the science behind special effects in movies, trends in global warming, renewable energy sources of the future, and much more.

In addition, 50 satellite events will take place throughout the United States to celebrate science and engineering. Learn more at www.usasciencefestival.org. Click on the calendar to see dates, times, and descriptions of all the fascinating events and opportunities. And help us to get the word out—share this information with your students, state chapters, and other colleagues!

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Third Annual Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge Kicks Off

Siemens logoRecently, NSTA, the Siemens Foundation, and Discovery Education announced the kick-off of the third annual Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, a program that educates, empowers and engages students and teachers nationwide to become “Agents of Change” in identifying and solving environmental problems. The third year of this national sustainability challenge—now expanded to include high school students—encourages all students, from kindergarten through twelfth grade, to team up with their classmates to create replicable solutions to environmental issues in their schools (grades K–5), community (grades 6–8), and world(grades 9–12).

Over 13,000 students competed in the 2010 Challenge across elementary and middle school grades. Projects ranged from reducing lunchtime waste to saving local trees and encouraging eco-friendly gardens. The grand prize team, “No1Idling” from Novi, Michigan, focused on reducing community pollution by raising awareness about the environmental impact of vehicle idling among area drivers. 

Student and teacher/mentor prizes, which vary according to grade level, include savings bonds, school grants, exciting trips and much more. The deadline for all entries is March 15, 2011.  Finalists and winners will be announced in April 2011 and the national winners will be announced in May 2011. For more information, visit www.wecanchange.com or www.facebook.com/wecanchange.

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News Roundup

Education Nation Kicks off This Week; President Obama Sets Goal of Recruiting 10,000 Science and Math Teachers

On Monday, September 27, President Obama helped to kick off the NBC Education Nation campaign with an appearance on the NBC Today show, where he announced a goal of recruiting 10,000 teachers who work in the STEM fields.

Education Secretary Duncan to Announce Teach Campaign

Also on Monday, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will announce the TEACH Campaign at 2:00 pm ET during a special live broadcast on MSNBC called "Education Nation Summit." There he will deliver a special address, "Teach for Tomorrow: A Reverse Commencement," which will be broadcast live on MSNBC and streamed online. Learn more at TEACH.gov.

Poor Science Education Impairs U.S. Economy—RAGS in Year Five

Last Thursday, policymakers gathered to unveil a report that examines the progress made five years since the release of Rising above the Gathering Storm. The reports, which led to the America Competes legislation now floundering in the Senate, concludes that "[i]n spite of sometimes heroic efforts an occasional very bright spots, our overall public school system has shown little sign of improvement, particularly in mathematics and science."

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NSTA's Conference on Science Education—Enjoy and Learn in Nashville

Get ready for three days filled with workshops, seminars, presentations, short course, and daylong programs designed for science educators PreK–16. Join us in Music City—Nashville for NSTA’s third Area Conference on Science Education, December 2–4, 2010. With over 400 sessions covering all science disciplines, you will develop content knowledge, new teaching strategies, and best practices that you can immediately implement into your daily routine. Bring an extra tote to load up on session freebies and giveaways from top exhibitors. Register by Oct. 22 to save $99 off the nonmember rate. Plan your educational escape today with our session browser/personal scheduler.

Check out a sampling of our offerings:

  • Creating a Powerful Synergy with Hands-On Investigations, Science Literacy Skills, and Science Content in the K–6 Science Classroom (PreK–Middle)
  • Give Science a Voice! Digital Storytelling in the Science Classroom (Elem–High)
  • Engaging Students with Climate Change: Global Connections and Sustainable Solutions—Hands-on lessons that demonstrate the interconnections between natural systems and human actions. Free curriculum! (Middle/High/Informal)
  • Be a Butterfly Doctor with Project Monarch Health—Lesson plans and freebies. (Elem–High)
  • NASA Mysteries of the Universe: Dark Matter—Investigate the evidence that dark matter exists and learn what we know and don't know about it. Free NASA materials! (High School)
  • NSTA Avenue Session: The NSTA Learning Center: Free Professional Development Resources and Opportunities for Educators—Attend and receive free access to some of the fee-based resources. Refreshments provided. (Elem–College)
  • NSTA Press Session: Outdoor Science: A Practical Guide—Insects, seeds, and sundials can help you integrate all subjects in outdoor lessons with practical ideas and inexpensive materials. Free seeds! (Elem–Middle)
  • Cruisin' to Food Safety: Integrating Food Safety in Your Science Curriculum—Free teaching materials from the FDA and door prizes! (Middle–High)
  • Medical Mysteries: A Free Online Adventure Game—Experience a free website where students use the scientific method to investigate a disease outbreak. (Middle Level)
  • Field Trip: Rocky Topper Scenic Walking Tour and Adventure Trip (ticketed)
  • Short Course: A Solid Science Background for Designing a New Tomorrow (ticketed)
  • Social Event: Council for Elementary Science International (CESI) Luncheon (ticketed)

Don’t forget to stop by the new and improved NSTA Science Bookstore featuring five new books and visit the NSTA Avenue for a special gift. Visit www.nsta.org/nashville for more details or to register.

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From the NSTA Calendar: Sustainability and the Materials Economy

Consumption—buying and using things—is a naturally engaging concept for students because it is current, relevant, and real. The topic provides an ideal context for teaching core subject matter and 21st-century skills such as critical thinking and collaboration. On September 29, Facing the Future will hold a free webinar based on its free curriculum resource, Buy, Use, Toss? A Closer Look at the Things We Buy.

Correlated with national science and social studies standards, Buy, Use Toss? leads high school students through an exploration of the system of producing and consuming goods that is called the materials economy. Students then learn how consumption can be sustainable, benefitting people, the environment, and the economy.

The webinar will take place from 6:00 to 6:45 p.m. Eastern Time. To register, click here.

To find more science education opportunities, visit the NSTA online calendar.

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A National STEM Master Teachers Corps? Tell Us What You Think!

Last week the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) issued their report to President Obama on K–12 STEM education and provided a number of conclusions and recommendations for immediate action.

One of the key recommendations was to reward the nation’s top STEM teachers by creating a STEM Master Teachers Corps.

Please take a minute to complete this NSTA survey and tell us what you think.

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Are Your Students Visually Literate?

More than 50 percent of science lessons in today’s elementary textbooks use visual information to help demonstrate concepts. With NSTA’s new title, Developing Visual Learning in Science, K–8, educators can help their students develop skills in interpreting photographs, charts, diagrams, figures, labels, and graphic symbols. Visual literacy in science is especially relevant for students who pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. In addition, a growing body of research concludes that visual literacy is critical for all citizens to communicate in our highly complex world. The authors, who are experienced science educators, provide teachers with a developmental path to move learners—and even the teachers themselves—on the road to successfully “making meaning” from visual texts. Pre-order your copy today!

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Californians Say Science Education Should be a Priority for Schools

A poll released on September 14 says science education should be a priority for the state’s schools and want it to be taught early and more often. The majority of Californians surveyed say that middle and high school science teachers should have extra preparation and special training, more resources and better equipment would make a big difference in science education; and  more time spent on science would be effective at the middle and high school levels. Learn more at the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning website at www.cftl.org.

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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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