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Week of March 12, 2012

Table of Contents

University of Rochester

Member Input Sought on NSTA Position Statement: Learning Science in Informal Environments

A team of science educators has updated an NSTA position statement on the importance of learning science in informal environments. The new statement recommends strengthening informal learning opportunities for all preK–12 students because learning experiences delivered by educators in informal environments can spark student interest in science and provide opportunities to broaden and deepen their engagement; reinforce scientific concepts and practices introduced in the school setting; and promote an appreciation for and interest in the pursuit of science in school and in daily life.

The NSTA Board of Directors voted to approve the draft statement and send it to the NSTA membership for comment. We would greatly appreciate your opinion and feedback on the statement before it is formally adopted by the Board. Please tell us what you think by viewing the draft statement and submitting your comments here. Comments must be received by Monday, March 26.

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Highlights: 13 Next Gen Science Standards Sessions at NSTA's National Conference

Below are just a few of the many sessions, workshops, and short courses exploring A Framework for K–12 Science Education, Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and related topics. If you are a science teacher who wants to delve into this subject, consider attending NSTA’s National Conference on Science Education, Indianapolis, March 29–April 1. Visit our website for more information or to register.

Crosscutting Concepts from the NRC Science Framework—Explore the role of crosscutting concepts in state science education standards and address ways to assess student understanding of these concepts.

Implications of the Framework for Science Education from the National Academy of Sciences—Join us as we first review the vision of science education and then explore addressing or aligning multiple "other" elements to foster effective implementation of the vision.

Scientific Inquiry and Engineering Design in New Standards—Explore their similarities and differences, and why engineering is included with traditional sciences in new standards.

Using Learning Progressions to Improve Science Teaching and Learning—This short course provides an opportunity to learn more about what LPs are (and are not) and how they are useful. (Ticketed)

High School Breakfast—The Role and Uses of a Framework for K–12 Science Education in Teaching High School Science—Join Dr. Helen Quinn, a key architect in designing A Framework for K–12 Science Education, as she discusses its implementation as well as the role the framework will play in the NGSS.(Ticketed)

Next Generation Science Standards—This informational session will provide an update on the development of these standards, how science educators can be involved, and implications for science teaching.

Scientific Practices—Emphasis will be placed on the use of organizing documents to help clarify the role of science practices and their appropriate use in state standards and classroom instruction.

Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning (CER): Next Steps After Introducing Framework—Discussion on examples of strong and weak questions and student work for integrating CER throughout the curricula.

NSELA/NSTA Standards Forum—Where are we at and what does it mean for our schools and students?

The Art of Science and the Framework for Science Education—Through A Framework for K–12 Science Education, we are seeing a national emphasis on science education as classroom modeling of real science, and students given the ability to be scientists and engineers.

Next Generation Science Standards—What It Means for Earth Science—Join us as we discuss the implications for teachers, schools, curriculum designers, and assessors.

Looking Toward the New Framework for the Next Generation Science Standards: New Research on Promising Practices in Professional Development with a Focus on Curriculum Integration—Research Dissemination Conference, Ticketed

How to Engage Science Educators in the Public Review of Next Generation Science Standards—Join us in this session as we explore questions and more about the role of educators in the NGSS public review process and how science teachers can get involved.

For more information on the above sessions and others, check out the conference scheduler.

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Twenty-Six New States and DC Request NCLB Waivers

Twenty six states—Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin—along with the District of Columbia, have submitted requests to the Department of Education for waivers to No Child Left Behind. On February 9 the Administration granted waivers to the federal education law to 11 states.

According to a U.S. Department of Education press release, these twenty-six states and DC will

  • Set performance targets based on whether students graduate from high school ready for college and career rather than having to meet NCLB’s 2014 deadline based on arbitrary targets for proficiency;
  • Design locally tailored interventions to help students achieve instead of one-size-fits-all remedies prescribed at the federal level;
  • Be free to emphasize student growth and progress using multiple measures rather than just test scores; and
  • Have more flexibility in how they spend federal funds to benefit students.

Additional states are expected to submit waivers by Sept. 6 for the third round of review. The state of California is seeking flexibility from the law without having to meet the goals set forth by the Administration.

Read more at www.ed.gov/esea/flexibility.

And a new report issued by the Department last week finds that minority students across America face harsher discipline, have less access to rigorous high school curricula, and are more often taught by lower-paid and less experienced teachers. Read more.

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STEM Education—Let Us Know What You Think

Is the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education movement reaching you? If so, how is it affecting your school? NSTA Executive Director Francis Eberle shares his insight on the movement in his latest blog post. Please take a few minutes to read his views, and then let us know your thoughts by taking the NSTA survey on STEM education.

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ExploraVision Announces 20th Anniversary Regional Winners

The 20th annual Toshiba/National Science Teachers Association ExploraVision Program announced its 24 Regional Winners for 2012. ExploraVision is the world’s largest K–12 science and technology competition, challenging students to work in teams and design innovative technologies that could exist in 20 years. The program has reached a major milestone, celebrating its 20th anniversary of encouraging students to participate in science, look at problems critically and find solutions. Since its inception, more than 300,000 students have participated. This year the program saw an increase of 11 percent in the number of student participants—4,807 team projects representing the participation of 14,602 students from across the US and Canada.

To learn more about this year’s regional winners, click here.

For more information or an application for 2013, visit www.exploravision.org or e-mail exploravision@nsta.org. Follow ExploraVision on Twitter at @ToshibaInnovate or join Toshiba Innovation’s Facebook Page at www.Facebook.com/ToshibaInnovation to hear more about ExploraVision.

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Citizen Science Lesson Contest—Be an NSTA Author!

Have you created a lesson that uses citizen science to teach middle or high school students about life science? If so, consider submitting your lesson plan for inclusion in a book to be published by NSTA Press. The deadline for submissions is May 15, 2012. Writers whose lessons are selected will receive a copy of the published book, and their names will appear as authors of the lessons they submitted. For more information and submission guidelines, visit www.BirdSleuth.net/book.

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NSTA Puts the Focus on STEM in May

NSTA’s first STEM Forum & Expo is scheduled for May 17–19 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. For any teacher, administrator and informal educator who is interest in developing better STEM opportunities for our students and professional development for STEM educators, this conference is a “must.”


  • PreK–2
  • Grades 3–5
  • Grades 6–9
  • Community/After School/Outreach Programs
  • Administrators

Speaker Kenneth Wesson will present on The STEM Hologram: Several Disciplines; One Interdependent Picture. Mary Ellen Weber, a two-time Space Shuttle astronaut, scientist, engineer, and pilot will present “To Boldly Go: The Unbounded Opportunities in Science and Math.

Sample sessions include the following:

  • STEM Education for All Early Childhood Students
  • Kindergarten Engagement Lessons
  • Engineering the K–2 Curriculum
  • STEM Picks Up STEAM: Adding Arts in STEM Education
  • Creating Future Scientists
  • Scalable STEM Activities for Grades 3–9
  • An Engineering and Technology Twist on the Egg Drop Activity
  • Toward Energy-aware STEM Leaders for the 21st Century
  • STEM Leadership: Where Do I begin
  • Improving STEM Teacher Education with a Residency Model
  • Vertical Integration of Engineering Education in K–12 Rural Schools
  • Strategic Planning for STEM Education Success
  • Start Your Own STEM Summer Institute
  • STEM Expo: Innovative Alternatives to Typical Science Fairs
  • GEE: Girls Engaged in Engineering
  • STEM Stars: Community Collaboration

Visit www.nsta.org/stemforum for more information and to register. The earlybird deadline is April 6.

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Celebrate the Mars Education Challenge with Bill Nye

Join us to celebrate award winners in the Mars Education Challenge with special guest Bill Nye. The reception will take place at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 29 in Ballroom 3 and 4 at the Marriott Downtown in Indianapolis. At this reception, science teachers who have won the Challenge will be presented their prizes for developing innovative curricula materials that incorporate Mars exploration. The reception will have a cash bar and light hors d'oeuvres. Other guest speakers will include Brian Tanner from the Indiana Space Port and Lisa Pratt, Mars expert and Provost Professor and Chair, Department of Geological Science at Indiana University. There is limited space at this reception. If you would like to attend, send an RSVP to info@exploremars.org no later than Friday, March 23.

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Bayer to Host Forum on STEM Diversity and U.S. Higher Education at the National Press Club in April

Bayer will host “Bridging the Gap: Recruiting, Retaining and Reinvigorating College STEM Programs,” a half-day forum on the state of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) diversity at U.S. colleges today. It is slated for Wednesday, April 18 from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m. at the National Press Club, 529 14th Street, NW, Washington, D.C.

As the nation struggles to attract more women, African-Americans, Hispanics and American Indians to its STEM fields, the forum will examine the undergraduate college environment in which these students make their career decisions. It will feature a national panel of experts who will share their knowledge, insights and analysis, while also presenting best practice models of college STEM diversity programs. Dr. Mae C. Jemison, Bayer’s longtime national Making Science Make Sense® spokesperson, will moderate.

The forum comes on the heels of a new report from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) titled, “Engage to Excel: Producing One Million Additional College Graduates with Degrees in STEM,” as well as Bayer’s own recent survey which polled STEM department chairs at the nation’s top 200 research universities about their efforts to recruit and retain female and underrepresented minority (URM) STEM undergraduate students.

To register to attend, please visit www.BayerUS.com/MSMS.

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Research Dissemination Conference

Professional Development Institutes-NSTA Conference in Indianapolis

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