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Week of August 1, 2011

Table of Contents

Sally Ride Science

Tougher Standards Mean More Schools Failing

More schools are failing to meet their targets under No Child Left Behind Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), reports Associated Press, which has “generated pressure for change in state capitols across the country. The Obama Administration has urged Congress to rewrite the law and has said that unless Congress acts soon, Education Secretary Arne Duncan would consider waivers to avert a ‘slow-motion train wreck’ for U.S. schools.” Read more.

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The Scientific Principles Behind Your Favorite Food

One of NSTA’s top titles, Gourmet Lab: The Scientific Principles Behind Your Favorite Food, serves up a full menu of activities for middle and high school science teachers to use in the classroom. What better topic than food to engage students to explore science in the natural world? Fifteen hands-on experiments—each including a full set of student and teacher pages—challenge students to take on the role of scientist and chef as they boil, bake, and toast their way to a better understanding of science concepts from chemistry, biology, and physics. Using inexpensive ingredients and basic lab equipment, students will cook food such as pancakes and butterscotch and have the opportunity to learn about physical changes in states of matter, acids and bases, biochemistry, and molecular structure.
Each lab provides background information about the food and science concepts at hand, a vocabulary list, safety protocols, a list of materials required, procedures, information about how to analyze the data, an answer key, and conclusions and connection questions. To enhance the overall learning process, cross-curricular connections in math and literacy are noted, and grade-specific learning extensions are provided to reinforce concepts.

Gourmet Lab places culinary science on the map and will leave your students hungry for their next learning experience. Visit NSTA’s Science Store to download a free chapter.

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Education Takes a Beating Nationwide

The Los Angeles Times takes a particularly revealing look at the cuts to K–12 budgets this year, and projections for next year, in both California schools and nationwide. Writes Times reporters Stephen Ceasar and Teresa Watanabe, “Slashed budgets are nothing new for educators, but experts say this year stands out. Last year, K–12 budgets were cut $1.8 billion nationwide. According to estimates by the National Association of State Budget Officers, cuts to K–12 for the new fiscal year may reach $2.5 billion . . . To cover such shortfalls, experts say, school officials often reduce, or eliminate, personnel and programs vital to the most vulnerable populations: lower-income and minority students.”

Read the Los Angeles Times article.

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From the NSTA Calendar: Financing a Field Trip

Many teachers would like to extend their students learning by taking them on a field trip to a museum, zoo, farm, nature center, or other informal science education venue. But tight budgets may make this almost impossible. Fortunately, Target has established a Field Trip Grant program to help teachers continue to take their students on field trips.

Each Target store will award three Field Trip Grants to K–12 schools nationwide, enabling one in 25 schools throughout the United States to send a classroom on a field trip. Teachers can use a grant to fund a school field trip that connects their curriculum to out-of-school experiences. Each grant is valued up to $700. The application period opens today; visit the website to learn more and apply.

Don’t let tight budgets get you down! Visit the NSTA Calendar to find out about other grants for teachers.

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Professional Development Getaway in New Orleans

NSTA’s Conference on Science Education, to be held in New Orleans, on November 10–12 will bring thousands of science educators together for top-notch professional development. At every level, discipline, and grade band, teachers can build their skills and content knowledge, learn strategies to improve classroom performance, test their minds with new ideas, and network with peers and PD experts from across the country. Historically, the favorite activity of past attendees is the Exhibit Hall with vendors sharing new products and great giveaways. See some of our noted presenters and workshops will include:

  • Ted Danson, Actor, Activist, and Author of Oceana: Our Planet’s Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them

  • Featured Panel: Next-Generation Science Education Standards, Stephen L. Pruitt (Vice President for Content, Research, and Development, Achieve, Inc.) and Francis Q. Eberle (Executive Director, National Science Teachers Association)

  • Cool Computer Activities for Science and Social Studies—See how science lessons and learning can be enlivened, enhanced, and updated through the integration of resources and tools found on the internet and classroom computer. Tammy Worcester (Instructional Technology Specialist, ESSDACK)

  • The Physics of Supernova—Use analysis software, graphs, and basic physics gravitation and centripetal acceleration equations to determine if an object is a white dwarf or a neutron star. High School-College level

  • Redesigning the Laboratory Investigation: Integrating Inquiry into Chemistry—Chemistry lab activities can be transformed into investigations that engage students while helping them to develop abilities for and understandings about inquiry. High School

  • Climate Change: Global Connections and Sustainable Solutions—hands-on lessons that demonstrate the interconnectedness among natural systems and human actions using carbon footprints, emissions trading, and energy policy. Middle-High School

  • Linking Science, Math, and Art Instruction—Elem-Middle Level

  • Engaging Early Elementary Students in Full Science Inquiry—Elementary

  • Let’s Get Well Grounded—Multiple exemplary activities for the geology classroom. General

  • Full Day Programs: Chemistry, Physics, Biology, and Engineering

  • Visit www.nsta.org/conferences for more information and to register. The earlybird deadline, Sept. 23, offers a significant discount.

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Picture Perfect Science Lessons 2nd Ed-NSTA Press

Stop Faking It More Chemistry Basics

Once Upon a Life Science Book

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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 August featured book, Girls in Science.

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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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