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Week of January 24, 2011

Table of Contents

Sponsored by:
Delta Education

Sponsored by:
USA Today-STEM Career National Competition

NAGB Releases 2009 Nation's Report Card on Science

On January 25, 2011, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) released the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 2009 Science Report Card for students in grades four, eight, and twelve.

The NAEP report, known as the nation’s report card, is designed to give a current snapshot of what the nation’s students in these grades know and can do in science. According to NAEP officials, this year’s NAEP Science scores reflect the results of the updated 2009 assessment and cannot be compared to previous assessment years, but will serve as the basis for comparison on future assessments.

While the majority of the nation’s students performed at or above the basic level in science, wide gaps exist between the scores of white and minority students and poor and more affluent students. Students in city schools scored lower than students elsewhere, and public school students tended to score below their peers in private schools. Males scored higher than females across all three grades

The report utilizes three achievement levels (Basic, Proficient, and Advanced). The overall achievement charts for all three grades is below.

NSTA and the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES) will present a web seminar on January 25 at 6:30 p.m. to review the report, answer questions, and discuss the results. The web seminar is free and open to all.

The web seminar will also be archived and accessible after the event.

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International Year of Chemistry: "Chemistry—Our Life, Our Future"

Spearmint. Caraway. Dill.

  • A chewing gum flavor
  • A seed in rye bread
  • An herb in pickles

Wouldn’t seem they have anything in common—but they do.

Reduce spearmint, caraway seed, and dill seed to their essential oils … and a sizable percentage of all three turn out to be made up of the same molecule: carvone.

How can you explain one molecule being responsible for distinctly different smells and tastes? With two hands, a mirror, a light bulb, and a pair of gloves—and a good chemistry educator.

In April 2008, UNESCO endorsed 2011 as an International Year of Chemistry (IYC), a worldwide celebration of the achievements of chemistry and its contributions to humankind. Under the unifying theme Chemistry—Our Life, Our Future,” IYC 2011 will offer a range of interactive, entertaining, and educational activities for all ages. The celebration is intended to reach across the globe, with opportunities for public participation at the local, regional, and national level.

NSTA, in partnership with NBC Learn and the National Science Foundation, is developing middle and high school chemistry lessons that will be coupled with historical news coverage, documentary materials, and current news broadcasts from NBC News, as well as resources from other contributors.

We’ll place the raw lessons on the NSTA Blog to make it easy for chemistry educators to download and modify them for use. Think of this as a wiki project, where you help shape the script for the lesson and let us know what you think. Like the carvone molecule, we know that in the hands of a creative, knowledgeable educator, every lesson can have a unique flavor.

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Sponsored by:
Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies

In-Depth Symposia Offered to National Conference Attendees

Science educators planning on registering for NSTA’s National Conference on Science Education in San Francisco should consider attending symposia to increase content knowledge and collect ideas for standards-based activities for the classroom. These sessions are half-day, high-quality, standards-based programs sponsored and led by EPA, NOAA, FDA, NSF, and USFS. Here are the scheduled titles and times for symposia to be held at the Marriott San Francisco Marquis Hotel:

Some of the above programs have a $60 stipend for participants who complete the symposium. For more information and to register, visit the NSTA Learning Center.

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Competition Updates


This is the last week to enter the DuPont Challenge Science Essay Competition. Students in grades 7–12 are eligible and could win money for college and an expense-paid trip to The Walt Disney World® Resort and Kennedy Space Center where winners will be recognized. Teachers can also earn grants and trips to the awards ceremony and to the NSTA National Conference on Science Education by mentoring a winning student.

The deadline for essay entries is January 31, 2011. For more information and to apply, go to thechallenge.dupont.com.


We are in the home stretch of the Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision Awards Competition entry period.  The deadline of February 2, 2011 is fast approaching. Students, teachers, mentors and schools have a chance to win prizes such as computers and other Toshiba-branded products, savings bonds, trips to the nation’s capital, and more. Make sure your students get their entries in on time. For tips to ensure that entries meet the guidelines, go to the NSTA Learning Center.


Teachers looking for ways to upgrade their science labs and gain professional development opportunities still have time to enter NSTA’s Shell Science Lab Challenge. This innovative competition will bring needed resources to middle and high schools in the US and Canada.  Over $93,000 in prizes will be awarded, including a $20,000 grand prize lab makeover support package.

Applicants are asked to submit their strategy for innovative laboratory instruction using limited laboratory equipment. Plausible entries will become part of a national database for teachers to obtain ideas for quality labs for their students. The most innovative, replicable and creative strategies will be eligible for prizes, including lab makeovers, NSTA gift certificates, travel support to NSTA conferences, and more. For more information and to apply, go to shellsciencelab.nsta.org. The deadline for entries is February 2, 2011.

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California, Here We Come: Professional Development for Science Educators

Join thousands of science educators at NSTA’s National Conference on Science Education, March 10–13 in San Francisco for workshops, presentations, symposia, and sessions that will build your PD portfolio. Learning innovative techniques and strategies, developing new content knowledge, testing cutting-edge products, and taking an exhibitor lab are just a few of the activities offered from more than 2000 sessions. You’re invited to attend—from the preservice student to the experienced curriculum specialist or administrator—you’ll find much to be passionate about. Check out some of our specific workshops and presentations:

  • Engaging ELL Students in Scientific Discourse Using Seven Strategies—Experience interactive, language-rich tasks structured with collaboration and participant talk to facilitate academic language success. (Middle–High)
  • Assessing Students' Understanding of Scientific Inquiry and Nature of Science (Elementary)
  • Diagnosing What Students Know Before Science Instruction (General)
  • Playing with Ecosystem Science—Learn games that model the living components, nutrient cycles, and human impacts on ecosystems. (Middle–High)
  • Using Mathematical Representations to Talk About, Model, and Explain Scientific Phenomena (Ticketed 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. session)
  • Integrating Science and Emerging Educational Technology in the Science Classroom (Ticketed 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. session including meals)
  • Science: It’s Not a Book of Knowledge … It’s a Journey—Dr. Jeff Goldstein presenting.
  • The Total STEM Learning Ecology—Dr. Dennis M. Bartels, executive director of the Exploratorium
  • The USS Pampanito: Where History Meets Science—Field Trip (ticketed)
  • Explore the Exploratorium—Field Trip (ticketed)
  • Visit the Exhibition Hall and collect giveaways for the classroom.
  • Browse the bookstore for new titles, I Love Science t-shirts, and gifts galore.

Visit www.nsta.org/sanfrancisco for more information. Register by Feb. 4 to save the most.

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Upcoming Toyota TAPESTRY Web Seminar

Join us! On Thursday, February 10, at 6:30 p.m. ET, two former TAPESTRY awardees will be leading a special interactive web seminar about how to complete your Toyota TAPESTRY grant proposal. The presenters will talk about ways to increase your chances of winning a grant, discuss specific components, and review in detail how the judging process works. For more information about the web seminar or to register for the event, visit the NSTA Learning Center.

Since the web seminar is geared to teachers who are already working on their proposals, we invite you to register for the grant program today and begin your online application if you have not already done so. Visit the TAPESTRY application website to get started!

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Are Brian and Dale Acquiring British Accents?

Finishing their virtual tour of the UK, the Wisconsin-based hosts of Lab Out Loud place a call across the pond to Dr. Ben Goldacre, author of "Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks and Big Pharma Flacks." Dr. Goldacre talks about interpreting scientific results, the tricks used to deceive us, and how science teachers might combat bad science in the classroom.

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Spring Online Courses for Science Teachers Begin Soon

Take advantage of professional development opportunities this spring by enrolling in online classes through Montana State University’s National Teachers Enhancement Network (NTEN) program. Courses are open to all and can lead to a master’s degree in science education. Registration for spring classes is still open in many courses, but space is limited so be sure to register soon!

A wide variety of courses are being offered in Earth Science, Science Education, Land Resources and Environmental Science, Microbiology, and Physics. Some online course highlights this spring include Landforms for Elementary Teachers (examine a variety of landscapes and how they came to look like they do); Water Quality (a “must” course for teachers involved in any aspect of biological sciences); and Comparative Planetology: Establishing a Virtual Presence in the Solar System (course participants will learn about the “new” Solar System and how to engage their students in the wonder of exploration).

Visit Montana State University’s NTEN website, www.scienceteacher.org, for more information about our online courses offered this spring, or for general information about our program. All courses are offered for graduate credit, and NSTA members receive a 10% discount on select courses.

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Sponsored by:

Discovery Education

Google UK Limited

Frey Scientific

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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!

Download your copy of the NSTA Membership Guide.

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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