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Week of August 8, 2011

Table of Contents

Sally Ride Science

NSTA Legislative Update: How Will the Debt Ceiling Affect K–12 Education?

As widely reported, Congress finally approved a last-minute deal to raise the debt ceiling last week, which will reduce federal spending by $7 billion in fiscal year 2012 and create a new 12-member “Super Commission” charged with cutting $1.5 trillion in discretionary spending over the next 10 years. U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), ranking Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, told the Associated Press that “discretionary spending cuts imposed by the deal would make life much more difficult for public schools.” Other pundits predict the Department of Education may see reductions of more than 6%.

Read more on early predictions about education funding will factor into the Commission’s deficit-reduction plans:

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Professional Development Down to a Science

NSTA’s fall roster for Area Conferences on Science Education is in place and includes locations in Hartford, CT, Oct. 27-29; New Orleans, LA, Nov. 10-12; and Seattle, WA, Dec. 8-10. Exemplary professional development will be offered at each conference, and science educators can count on more than 400 workshops, presentations, seminars, and sessions to choose from. Teachers in every discipline and from every grade band, K-16, can select their preferences--content development, assessment, inquiry, full-day, discipline-specific content, and more.

Attendees will hear inspiring speakers such as actor and environmentalist Ted Danson and Leroy Hood, MD, PhD, president and cofounder of the Institute for Systems Biology who will speak on The Emergence of Predictive Biology and Personalized Medicine. Stephen Pruitt, Vice President for Content, Research, and Development for Achieve, Inc., will speak on the development of the Next-Generation Science Education Standards.

Elementary teachers can look forward to a Picture-Perfect Science Preconference Workshop that focuses on integration of science and reading through the use of picture books. Middle and high school teachers won’t want to miss strategic workshops such as The Multilevel Classroom: Differentiation Strategies for Science and Evolution and Medicine: A New Approach to a Central Topic in High School Biology. Other highlights include a special symposium [NSTA’s Exemplary Science Programs (ESP): Meeting the Reform Features from the National Science Education Standards], field trips to interesting local sites, opportunities to network with peers, an Exhibit Hall filled with cutting-edge products, and giveaways to take back to the classroom.

Visit www.nsta.org to check out the details of each conference and early bird registration dates.

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Student Experiments Aboard the International Space Station

The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE), in partnership with NanoRacks, LLC, announces an immediate opportunity for communities across the U.S. to participate in the first Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) mission to America’s National Laboratory in space--the International Space Station (ISS). The program is also open to ISS partner nations.

Each participating community will be provided an experiment slot in a real microgravity research mini-laboratory scheduled to fly on the International Space Station (ISS) from March 30 to May 16, 2012. An experiment design competition in each community—engaging typically 300 to 1,000 students—allows student teams to design real experiments vying for their community’s reserved experiment slot on ISS. Additional SSEP programming leverages the experiment design competition to engage the community, embracing a Learning Community Model for STEM education.

SSEP missions on STS-134 (Shuttle Endeavour) and STS-135 (Shuttle Atlantis) have recently been completed, with 1,027 student team proposals received, and 27 SSEP experiments selected and flown—representing the 27 communities that participated in SSEP on the Space Shuttle.

Go to SSEP Mission 1 to ISS National Announcement of Opportunity to learn more.

Critical Deadline: all participating communities must be aboard by September 15, 2011.

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Just Back from the Beach?

Here’s what you missed. On July 19th, the National Research Council released its new framework for K–12 science education, identifying the key concepts and practices that all students should learn. This framework will serve as the basis for the Next Generation Science Standards, a state-led effort that will be managed by Achieve, Inc. over the next 18 months.

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Duncan Calls for Transformation of Teaching Profession

On July 29, in a speech to the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, Secretary Duncan said the U.S. should radically transform the way that teachers are recruited, assigned, evaluated, and compensated, in order to recognize and reward its great veteran teachers, attract top students into the field, and make the country more competitive.  He called on teachers to rebuild their profession, to give themselves more autonomy in exchange for performance-based accountability.  “Teachers must own this and drive this,” he explained.  “Change can only come from the men and women who do the hard work every day within our classrooms.”  He also called for higher salaries to make teaching more competitive with other venerated professions like law, medicine, and engineering.  He suggested that starting salaries of around $60,000 and top salaries approaching $150,000 would help change the economics of the profession, while acknowledging the difficulty of finding more funding when governments at every level are wrestling with debt and deficits. Read the Education Week article.

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Brain-Powered Science: Teaching and Learning with Discrepant Events

Brain-Powered Science is the ideal resource for middle and high school teachers looking to stimulate students’ thinking. Thirty-three hands-on activities based on the science of a “discrepant event”—an experiment or demonstration in which the outcome is not what students expect—will motivate students to reconsider preconceived notions and think about what has actually occurred.

Author Thomas O’Brien invites teachers to actively participate in the thought-provoking demonstrations, challenging them to question and revise their own assumptions about the nature of science, teaching, and learning. The dual-purpose activities, which are each analogous to a pedagogical principle, will uncover unpredicted results for both students and teachers, leading to a deeper understanding of science concepts.

Teachers can take advantage of 200 up-to-date internet resources included in the book, as well as extensions to each of the physical science, biology, and chemistry activities—bringing the total number to nearly 120. This book will remind teachers that the study of science is full of surprises and should be both meaningful and fun for students. For more information or to order, click here.

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Free World Water Monitoring Day Test Kits

The public education program World Water Monitoring Day (WWMD) is offering a free Classroom Test Kit to the first 50 teachers who register for the program and indicate that they are affiliated with NSTA. Visit www.WorldWaterMonitoringDay.org to register. By accepting a free test kit, the teacher pledges to report water quality data to WWMD.

WWMD will provide one free kit per teacher. The offer expires August 15, 2011. Visit the Freebies for Science Teachers website for more free products, materials, and services for you and your students.

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Wards Natural Science Free Forensics Science Training

Schoolyard Science sponsorship

Predict, Observe, Explain sponsorship

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 August featured book, Girls in Science.

Click on the logo above for more information and to register for these free professional development opportunities.



Professional development courses in your future?
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Take a look at these groups offering courses for science educators!

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