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Week of April 18, 2011

Table of Contents

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"It's Elemental" Video Contest Winners Receive Dow Grants for STEM Education

NSTA would like to recognize the science teachers and their student winners of the It’s Elemental video contest! The online video contest, sponsored by the Dow Chemical Company and hosted by the Chemical Heritage Foundation, invited students to create a short video to creatively depict an element from the periodic table of elements. The contest attracted a robust 700 entries from 36 different U.S. states and resulted in 11 prize winners.

It’s Elemental was designed to inspire interest in chemistry among students, one of the objectives of the United Nations-designated 2011 International Year of Chemistry (IYC). A sa global partner of IYC, this is just one of many activities Dow is supporting to encourage interest in chemistry among young people through STEM education. Teachers interested in learning more about IYC can view this link for more information.

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STEM Funding in the Long-Term FY2011 Continuing Resolution

How did STEM education fare in the long-term CR that will fund the federal government through the end of fiscal year 2011? Read all about it in this issue of the NSTA Legislative Update.

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Participate in the Largest Chemistry Experiment Ever During the International Year of Chemistry

Water is the most abundant substance on the Earth’s surface. Although it covers more than ¾ of our planet, water has become one of Earth’s most precious resources. Ninety seven percent of the water on Earth is sea water of high salt content and is not adequate for most uses. Therefore the availability of water around the world, in terms of both quality and quantity, requires that practical methods through chemistry be found for proper treatment.

To help students from all over the globe understand that water is a precious resource that can’t be taken for granted, the Dow Chemical Company is supporting The Global Water Experiment. Launched on World Water Day, The Global Water Experiment encourages teachers and students to participate in a global experiment allowing students to test the water where they live and interact with other students around the globe to share results. This will teach students about sustainable water management and the role that chemistry plays in purifying water for human consumption. The results will be showcased on an interactive global data map throughout the experiment, which runs throughout 2011.

The Global Water Experiment is just one of many activities being hosted to get students excited about chemistry in 2011, which the United Nations has designated the International Year of Chemistry (IYC). Teachers and students are encouraged to learn more about IYC and to participate in what may be the largest chemistry experiment ever.

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U.S. Students and Science: AAAS Testing Gives New Insight into What They Know and Their Misconceptions

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has launched an innovative website with more than 600 multiple-choice test questions to help educators assess more precisely what students know about key ideas in science and—just as importantly—the incorrect ideas they have.

The new AAAS website, assessment.aaas.org, presents detailed information on how a national sample of middle and high school students answered each question, along with an analysis of both their correct and incorrect responses, to assess whether students truly understand the science concepts they are being taught. The site also features information on hundreds of misconceptions students have about everything from the size of atoms to whether all organisms have DNA.
Knowing these misconceptions and how pervasive they are—which is not typically part of the analysis of test results from state testing or from leading national and international testing organizations—can help teachers improve instruction and better design their own test questions

In addition to the test questions themselves, the website includes data on student performance by gender, grade level, and whether or not English is the student's primary language. Each question typically was answered by at least 2000 students in field tests involving school districts across the nation. In 2010, for example, more than 90,000 students in 814 schools participated in the field tests. Project 2061 researchers also conducted on-site interviews with students to gauge the effectiveness of the questions.

Project 2061, founded in 1985 by AAAS to improve science education, developed the assessment items and collected data on them under a grant from the National Science Foundation.

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Register Today for July K–12 STEM Education Policy Conference

The K–12 STEM Education Policy Conference this July 12–13 is filling quickly! Amid this rapidly changing political environment, this 1½-day summer event in Washington DC—cosponsored by NSTA and the STEM Education Coalition, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association, the American Chemical Society, and the Hands-on Science Partnership—will examine what’s ahead for STEM education (including funding) next year.  Teachers are urged to attend and learn more about the policy decisions being made now that will affect your classroom.

For more information and to register, go to stemeducationconference.eventbrite.com.

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Design Squad Nation Wants You to Build It Big by Entering the 2011 Build Big Contest

Kids across the country are being challenged to show their creativity by building a giant version of a Design Squad Nation activity. Form a team (that includes at least one adult), choose an activity, build it big, and upload a video of your design to YouTube. One prize (a flip camera) will be awarded to the winning team along with an opportunity to Skype with hosts Judy and Adam and pick their brains. Submissions may also be posted on the Design Squad Nation website. No purchase is necessary and entries must be received on or before August 1, 2011, at 12:00 p.m. For more details and complete official rules, click here. To view a video of hosts Judy and Adam challenging kids to participate and showing off their giant catapult, inspired by our Pop Fly activity, click here.

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Science, Entertainment, and Education Grant Opportunity

The Science & Entertainment Exchange, a program of the National Academy of Sciences, is seeking proposals to establish collaborative partnerships among scientists, entertainment industry professionals, and educators to develop educational products or services that effectively leverage the resources of the entertainment community (including film, television, and video games) to improve educational outcomes in science classrooms. A total of $225,000 will support the development of one or more innovative ideas.

On February 4, 2011, the National Academy of Sciences convened leaders in the fields of science, education, and entertainment to explore the ways in which bringing together film, television programming, video games, and other entertainment media with quality science content and exceptional classroom teaching can empower student learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Focused primarily on the middle and high school grades, this daylong summit provided a forum where participants could exchange ideas and share new perspectives on this topic. The meeting encouraged cross-disciplinary dialogue and challenged participants to think more broadly about how they can contribute to improving America’s STEM literacy and competitiveness.

More information about the Summit on Science, Entertainment, and Education and the grant information can be found at seenas.ning.com.

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Take the "Next Step" Toward STEM Education

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), together with The Association of Science Materials Centers, the Delaware Science Coalition, and the Delaware Department of Education, is hosting the Next Step Institute May 1–4 in Dover, Delaware. The Next Step Institute is a conference providing workshops and networking sessions for educational professionals looking to integrate STEM topics seamlessly into best practices. This pedagogical forum encompasses content immersion, practice, learning, reflection, and sharing.

We invite a diverse and nationwide group of K–12 education leaders, members of business and industry, formal and informal STEM educators, and materials managers to navigate the landscape together. With its strong focus on science education coming from the White House and a national call for STEM literate students, here’s a great place to get practical strategies, ideas, and support.

For more information or to register, click here or contact Emily Stewart at stewaea0@hotmail.com.

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The Case for Being Bold: A New Agenda for Business in Improving STEM Education

Last week the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released The Case for Being Bold: A New Agenda for Business in Improving STEM Education.

From the report:

While there has been a steady supply of sensible proposals for improving STEM education, most leave largely undisturbed the organizing assumptions of schools designed to process the masses and educate the few. The familiar “nice guy” repertoire that the business community has long embraced—partnering with existing institutions to promote “best practices,” provide resources, and involve corporate supporters—offers some aid but is unlikely to deliver breakthrough improvement ... What will it take for business leaders to tackle the STEM challenge more ambitiously? Business leaders would do well to focus on specific key areas: taking full advantage of strengthened and streamlined academic standards; rethinking how teachers are hired, deployed, and prepared; and promoting new models of schooling that can facilitate STEM learning. In each case, business must push beyond the familiar talking points and challenge typical routines.

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