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Week of January 2, 2012

Table of Contents

University of Rochester

OSTP Issues Report on Federal Investment in STEM Education and Federal STEM Programs

As expected, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) interagency Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM) has issued its detailed inventory of Federal agencies’ spending on STEM education (PDF). The inventory found that federal agencies are making some 252 distinct investments in STEM education for a total budgetary commitment of $3.4 billion. From the report: “Our analysis indicates that the critical issue related to Federal investments in STEM education is not whether the total number of investments is too large or whether today’s programs are overly redundant with one another. Rather, the primary issue is how to strategically focus the limited Federal dollars available so they will have a more significant impact in areas of national priority.” The report suggests there may be a number of possible approaches to improving the federal STEM education portfolio including: consolidating programs, creating joint solicitations across agencies, and developing structures and procedures for sharing program data and performance measurement and evaluation tools. A five-year federal STEM education strategic plan that will “help Federal agencies contribute to improved STEM education in an effective and well-coordinated manner” is expected out in early 2012.

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Recruiting for Proposals for the STEM Forum & Expo, Atlantic City, NJ, May 17–19, 2012

Teachers and administrators versed in STEM are encouraged to submit proposals appropriate for workshops and seminars at the first NSTA STEM Forum & Expo. For details and information on the process, visit www.nsta.org/stemforum (deadline is January 15, 2012). The STEM Forum & Expo will bring together nationally renowned STEM experts and practitioners and hands-on educators interested in learning about successful approaches and implementation of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics education into our schools and districts. STEM best practices, content, and integration processes are critical aspects of creating well-trained elementary and middle school educators who will need to radically increase student literacy in these STEM subjects. Put this event on your 2012 calendar.

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National Governors Association (NGA) Reports New Models of Teacher Compensation

An NGA issue brief released in late December, titled New Models of Teacher Compensation: Lessons Learned from Six States, is based on the discussions during a policy academy with governors and state leaders. The conclusions the NGA makes from the report:

As they seek to create new models of teacher compensation, governors and other states leaders should consider:

  • Ensuring that assessment and data systems are capable of measuring student learning growth, providing estimates of value added, and linking student assessment scores to individual teachers;
  • Identifying tools and measures for gauging teacher effectiveness that go beyond student test scores; evaluating based on multiple measures (such as classroom observations; aggregate, schoolwide student learning gains; teacher portfolios; student artifacts; teacher value-added scores; and student growth measures); and using evaluation results to identify professional development and other supports for teachers, to help them become more effective;
  • Providing high-level leadership and engaging key stakeholders, especially teachers and principals and the organizations that represent them, to develop frameworks, guidelines, and details of new compensation structures; and
  • Using reform efforts at the state level in ways that complement one another and maximize other opportunities, such as NGA policy academies or federal grant programs, to support the state’s reform agenda.

Read the 17-page report New Models of Teacher Compensation (PDF).

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Teach STEM? NASA Explorer Schools Can Help With That!

Teachers across the country, regardless of school size, type, or geographic location, have seen the benefit of participating in the NASA Explorer Schools (NES) project. These teachers have access to free NASA classroom materials and student engagement activities, as well as educator support resources, through the NES Virtual Campus. NES classroom resources are designed to help teachers increase student interest and achievement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

Are you looking for fun, exciting and interactive ways to connect your students to NASA? Designed for teachers in grades 4–12, NES provides a forum for accessing free lessons, student engagement activities, and professional development opportunities centered on NASA missions and STEM topics and careers. NES also offers multiple pathways for you to connect with other motivated STEM educators across the country to share best practices and classroom implementation ideas. Visit the NASA Explorer Schools website to read firsthand stories from participating teachers about the benefits of joining the NES project and implementing NASA resources in the classroom!

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Improve Your Knowledge of Physical Science, Earth Science, and Space Science

Force and Motion
Intimidated by inertia? Frightened by forces? Mystified by Newton's Laws of Motion? NSTA’s online short course on Force and Motion is an option for 2012. Course dates: 2/1, 2/8, 2/15, 2/22, 2/29. Member Price: $325.76 | Nonmember Price: $370.75

Covering kinetic and potential energy, thermal energy and heat, and  the concepts of conduction, convection, and radiation, this short course will build your content knowledge on energy. Course dates: 1/31, 2/7, 2/14, 2/21, 2/28. Member Price: $322.50 | Nonmember Price: $367.00

The Solar System
With a focus on the formation of the solar system and its bodies, this course will introduce inquiry-based instruction models and NASA resources to use with your students. Course dates: 2/2, 2/9, 2/16, 2/23, 3/1. Member Price: $304.59 | Nonmember Price: $344.11

Two hours of graded, graduate credit are available for each course through Oklahoma State University. The cost, $550, includes registration fees. Register by Friday, January 27, 2012 to participate. For more information or to register, visit the NSTA Learning Center.

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NSTA's National Conference on Science Education Raises the Bar

For science educators and administrators who are interested in peak performance, this conference scheduled for March 29-April 1 in Indianapolis, Indiana, offers the best professional development available. Experts will present on inspiring topics, workshops on content and hands-on techniques will be offered to thousands, strategies on assessment and inquiry will take on new meaning, and from across the country teachers will participate. Those in every grade band, K–16, and in every stage of their career are invited to take that extra step to enhance their knowledge and join the discussion.

Check out some of our highlights:

  • The Art of Science and the Framework for Science Education, Dr. Jeff Goldstein, Director, National Center for Earth and Space Science Education
  • Teaching Science Inquiry Through Storytelling, Brian “Fox” Ellis (Author and Storyteller, Fox Tales International)
  • What Makes Space So Much Fun and So Hard? Bill Nye (Executive Director, The Planetary Society)
  • Activities, Materials, and Resources That TEACH SCIENCE! (Elem)
  • Easy, Hands-On Science for Grade 3—Hands-on activities will be tied to the new core science standards (Elem)
  • Why Do I Have to Know This? Engineering Design Challenges That Drive Inquiry Science (Elem)
  • Computer-supported Collaborative Science: Support Inquiry in the Middle School Science Classroom with Google Apps, Middle
  • We-STEM, Do You? Strategies, tools and resourcesr (Elem–Middle)
  • The Science and Ethics of Animal Research (Middle–College)
  • Circuit Training with LED Hula Hoops—Use the basics of electronics to create a LED (light-emitting diode) parallel circuit hula hoop. (Middle–High)
  • How Would You Find Out If Your Students Can Design Reasonable Biological Experiments? (Middle–College)
  • Building a Sustainable Planet…One Biodegradable Utensil at a Time (Middle–High)
  • Building America: Dimension Limestone Quarrying in South Central Indiana—Ticketed field trip
  • Indiana State Police Forensic Lab—Ticketed field trip
  • The Exhibit Hall—Hundreds of companies offer the newest products, demonstrations, and giveaways. Bring an extra tote.

Visit www.nsta.org/indianapolis for more information or to register. The earlybird deadline is February 3.

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From NSTA Press: Doing Good Science in Middle School

Just as middle schoolers are “wired” to learn in active, hands-on ways, this book is wired to help you spark a vital connection to these students to keep them tuned-in to science. Doing Good Science in Middle School combines practical insights about adolescent learners with what master teachers know about how to shift from passive, textbook-centered instruction to inquiry-based investigations.

Chapters cover the psychology of the middle school learner; why inquiry and collaboration are the cornerstones of good science; integrating science, literacy, math, and technology; classroom management and safety; plus additional resources and sample forms. At the book’s core are 10 must-do activities. All are developmentally appropriate, inquiry- and Standards-based lessons of use to teachers at all experience levels (including preservice).

Doing Good Science is a truly comprehensive practitioner’s guide. It brings you ideas for presenting curriculum, strategies for reaching all students, and a research basis for justifying your practices in the classroom—all through a combination of humor and true stories from experienced educators who make a solid case for inquiry in real-world middle school.

Members: $19.96 | Nonmembers: $24.95

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