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Week of January 17, 2011

Table of Contents

Sponsored by:
Google Science Fair sponsorship

Sponsored by:
USA Today-STEM Career National Competition

America's Public Schools and the Recession

A recently released survey of school administrators nationwide conducted by the American Association of School Administrators provides a sobering picture of the economic impact the recession has had on schools in the 2010–11 school year, and offers little hope of improvement for next year.

Key points from Surviving A Thousand Cuts: America’s Public Schools and the Recession:

  • Across the nation, school districts report a breadth and depth of budget cuts for both the 2010–11 and 2011–12 school years.
  • Stop-gap efforts to avoid job cuts were short-lived, and this reduction in force will continue to be a reality over the next few school years.
  • More than half of the 692 administrators surveyed increased class size, and 65 percent anticipate doing so in 2011–12.
  • More than 1/3 eliminated/delayed instructional improvement initiatives for the 2010–11 school year, and nearly half anticipate doing so next year.
  • Six percent reduced operations to a four-day week this year, and 17 percent anticipate doing so next year. Twenty-seven percent eliminated summer school programs for 2020–11, and more than 40 percent anticipate eliminating summer school next year.

The report notes that the cessation of ARRA (stimulus) and EduJobs funding and continued budget strains at the state and local levels represent a one-two punch to education funding, further insulating schools from economic recovery and translating into more budget cuts, more job cuts, and fewer resources for programs and personnel.

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Google Launches a Global Online Science Fair

Google has partnered with NASA, CERN, National Geographic, Scientific American, and the LEGO Group to create the Google Science Fair—a STEM competition. The Google Science Fair is a global competition that any student aged 13 to 18 is eligible to enter. Students can enter as individuals or teams of up to three. There is no entry fee and registration and submission will happen online. The Science Fair will culminate in a celebratory event at Google headquarters in California in July 2011, where finalists will compete for internships, scholarships, and prizes in front of a panel of celebrity scientist judges including Nobel Laureates and household names. The competition deadline is April 4, 2011.

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Sponsored by:
Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies

Uncovering Student Ideas in Physical Science, Volume 1: Force and Motion

Teachers will competently face the challenge of teaching physical science now that nationally known science educator Page Keeley—principal author of the hugely popular, four-volume series Uncovering Students Ideas in Science—has teamed up with physicist and science educator Rand Harrington to write this first volume in a new series.

Using Keeley’s successful assessment probe methodology, teachers are able to find out what students really think about key ideas in force and motion, then adjust their instruction accordingly. The book specifies grade spans (K–5, 6–8, 9–12) for each of 45 probes, based on state and national standards, and suggests ways to adapt a probe for a different grade span or context. Order your copy today!

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How Should Environmental Education be Taught in Schools?

Interest in environmental education is growing, but there is great variation in how schools are incorporating it into the curriculum. Some educators say the goal of environmental education should be to teach students about the interaction between the human and natural world, and then draw their own conclusions about how to make informed, responsible decisions about the environment. Experts also recommend lessons be focused on solutions rather than doom and gloom, particularly with younger students.

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PD for Your Elementary and Middle School Staff

Consider sending your staff to NSTA’s National Conference on Science Education, March 10–13 in San Francisco. This top-notch event offers thousands of practical workshops, presentations, content development sessions, and symposia sponsored by NASA, FDA, NSF, and the EPA. For every discipline and for the preservice as well as the experienced teachers, PD enhances a career and promotes performance in the classroom. Take a look at some of our offerings:

  • Think Scientifically: NASA Solar Science Hidden in a Storybook- Explore a science literature program that integrates children's stories with solid science, math, and literacy content
  • Featured Speaker: Dr. Dennis M. Bartels, executive director of the Exploratorium—The Total STEM Learning Ecology: How to Use All a Child’s Waking Hours to Activate the Science Learner in Every Student Before Adolescence
  • TLC Is a PLC—Learn how embedded professional development in classrooms links to school culture, teacher development, and student achievement.
  • The Role of Discourse and Writing in Inquiry Science at the Upper Elementary Level—Ticketed Short Course
  • Teaching Earth Science Content with iPods, Laptops, and Other Portable Accelerometers
  • Tackling the Global Warming Challenge in a Rapidly Changing World
  • Earth as a System: Seasons and the Seas—Exploration of interactions between land, oceans, and atmosphere with lessons from a NOAA-funded project.
  • Hands-On Nanotechnology Laboratory Activities
  • Model-based Teaching, Learning, and Assessment in Science
  • Engaging Students in Biology Through Real-World Connections—Topics: stem cell research, medical issues, and diabetes and kidney disease.
  • Engaging ELL Students in Scientific Discourse Using Seven Strategies
  • Effective STEM Challenges for the Classroom
  • An Ocean Sciences Curriculum Sequence for Grades 3–5—Ticketed Short Course: Inquiry-based activities designed to bring ocean sciences to life for elementary classrooms

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Become the Newest Member of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Online Teacher Academy

New teachers just starting out, veteran teachers looking for new ideas (and anyone in-between), join WCS’s Online Teacher Academy to revitalize your love of nature and science and discover ways to inspire your student’s interest in learning and enliven your classroom.

Winter 2011 Courses (spots still available!):

  • Predators: Biology and Conservation

Spring 2011 Courses (starting soon!):

  • Conservation Biology for Educators
  • Nature’s Thread: Weaving Environmental Education into Your Classroom (NEW!)
  • Marine Biology for Educators

Whether you teach in a school or non-traditional setting, science or non-science content, WCS’s Online Teacher Academy offers something for everyone!

  • Virtual simulations, videos, and interaction with teachers from around the world
  • The most up-to-date news from WCS scientists
  • Opportunities to explore best practices in science education
  • Curriculum and resources
  • Graduate credits available

Interested? www.wcs.org/e-learning or +1-718-220-5136.

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Sponsored by:

VWR Education

Discovery Education

San Francisco conference

Learn more about NSTA e-newsletter sponsorships

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Visit the NSTA Science Store for an outstanding array of bestselling books and teaching resources. Receive 30% off the price of the January featured book, Science Teaching as a Profession.

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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