June 17th, 2013 Bob
NSTA Legislative Update: Bipartisan No Child Left Behind Legislation Introduced in House and Senate
Education leaders in both the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Democratic-led Senate have introduced bipartisan bills that would rewrite the 10-year-old federal education law. And there is not much love for the Obama administration’s long-awaited strategic plan for federal STEM education programs released in May. Read all about it in this issue of the NSTA Legislative Update.
Free Web Seminar for Preservice Professors
Are you a college or university instructor of preservice teachers? Join us for a web seminar on June 27 to find out how you can use the NSTA Learning Center as an interactive e-textbook for your classes. A panel of professors who are already using the Learning Center will share their insights and answer questions from the audience.
Read more and register for all upcoming web seminars
“Hidden” STEM Jobs Require Different Levels of Training
A new report released last week by the Brookings Institution shows policymakers could be overlooking an important segment of the STEM workforce as they appropriate funds for higher education. According to the report, The Hidden STEM Economy, 20 percent of all U.S. jobs are in the STEM fields, with half of those occupations available to workers who don’t have a four-year bachelor’s degree. Other key findings from the report:
- “STEM jobs that require at least a bachelor’s degree are highly clustered in certain metropolitan areas, while sub-bachelor’s STEM jobs are prevalent in every large metropolitan area. Of large metro areas, San Jose, CA, and Washington, D.C., have the most STEM-based economies, but Baton Rouge, LA, Birmingham, AL, and Wichita, KS, have among the largest share of STEM jobs in fields that do not require four-year college degrees. These sub-bachelor’s STEM jobs pay relatively high wages in every large metropolitan area.”
- “More STEM-oriented metropolitan economies perform strongly on a wide variety of economic indicators, from innovation to employment. Job growth, employment rates, patenting, wages, and exports are all higher in more STEM-based economies. The presence of sub-bachelor’s degree STEM workers helps boost innovation measures one-fourth to one-half as much as bachelor’s degree STEM workers, holding other factors constant. Concentrations of these jobs are also associated with less income inequality.”
Click here to download the full report.
Announcing Summer Scholarship Opportunity Through WCS’s Online Teacher Academy
The Wildlife Conservation Society’s award-winning Online Teacher Academy is pleased to announce a new Scholarship Opportunity for teachers enrolling in its professional development courses.
This summer, the scholarship will allow teachers to take any one of the following online courses for only $50* ($225 savings):
These courses are designed to enhance your understanding of the living world and revitalize your love for nature and science. Entirely online, these six-week courses provide unique opportunities to examine the life sciences of zoology, ecology and conservation and are rich with CCSS, NGSS, and STEM connections.
*Graduate credits are available for an additional $165.
Free resources! Cutting-edge science! Register now at pd.wcs.org. Questions? E-mail email@example.com or call +1-718-220-5136.
May 31st, 2013 Bob
From the National Center for Science Education
BACK TO 1981 IN LOUISIANA
At its May 29, 2013, meeting, the Louisiana House Committee on Education declined to endorse the attempt to repeal Louisiana’s Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act. Enacted in 1981, the Balanced Treatment act was declared to be unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard in 1987, but remains in the state’s statutes nevertheless. At the May 1, 2013, meeting of the Senate Committee on Education, Dan Claitor (R-District 16) proposed to amend Senate Bill 205 — which originally provided only for the establishment of foreign language immersion programs in public school districts—to repeal the act; the amendment was unanimously adopted by the committee on a voice vote.
The amendment followed on the heels of the failure of Senate Bill 26, which would have repealed the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act. Karen Carter Peterson (D-District 5), who introduced SB 26 (and identical bills in 2012 and 2011), was quoted by the Associated Press (May 13, 2013) as saying, “This act should not be on the books … It does not make sense.” Peterson also proposed to amend SB 205 to repeal the LSEA, but her motion was rejected on a 5-32 vote. Ben Nevers (D-District 12), who sponsored the LSEA in the Senate in 2008, expressed opposition to the repeal of the Balanced Treatment Act, arguing that it would be useful for it to be on the books in case the Edwards decision is ever reversed.
At the House committee’s meeting, discussion centered on the provisions concerning the foreign language immersion programs. Asked about the repeal provision, the bill’s sponsor Eric LaFleur (D-District 28) described it as “oddball,” and indicated that he would not object if it were to be removed. Eventually Rob Shadoin (R-District 12) proposed to remove the provision repealing the Balanced Treatment Act; his amendment was adopted by voice vote, and the amended bill then passed 7-6. SB 205 now proceeds to the House of Representatives. If it passes, either the Senate will concur with the removal of the repeal provision or the bill will go to a conference committee. The legislative session ends on June 6, 2013.
For information on Louisiana’s Senate Bills 205 and 26, visit:
For the text of the decision in Edwards v. Aguillard, visit:
For the Associated Press story (via the Lafayette Advertiser), visit:
And for NCSE’s previous coverage of events in Louisiana, visit:
“CLIMATE SCIENCE IS CORE TO SCIENCE EDUCATION”
The American Meteorological Society, in a policy statement adopted on May 23, 2013, affirmed the importance of climate science to science education. The AMS criticized attempts to undermine the teaching of climate change “by those seeking to frame it as somehow different from other scientific subjects, often with claims that it is either ‘uncertain’ or ‘controversial.’ They advocate the need for a special approach to its teaching, such as added effort to balance perspectives.” “With this statement, the AMS seeks to confirm the solid scientific foundation on which climate change science rests, and to emphasize that teaching approaches different from other sciences are not warranted. Uncertainty is a natural component of all scientific endeavor. The existence of uncertainty does not undermine the scientific validity of climate change science; to the contrary, it provides a sound example for broader instruction of the scientific method.”
The statement continues by reviewing the scientific basis of climate science (“The primary findings of climate change science have been well established in the peer-reviewed science literature and replicated by numerous independent investigators and methodologies. … There are small scientific differences as research continues to refine the details, but there is strong agreement on the primary findings and essentially no controversy with respect to them.”) and debunking the idea that it is inherently dubious (“Scientists acknowledge and work routinely within a framework of uncertainty. … Aspects of climate science such as the greenhouse effect, the flows of solar and terrestrial radiation, and feedbacks are as scientifically sound as gravity, the human genome, or orbital mechanics.”) “Climate literacy in the next generation of U.S. citizens,” the AMS concluded, “will ensure a firm foundation of knowledge and discourse as society faces decisions on how to best deal with a changing climate.”
For the statement, visit:
For NCSE’s collection of organizational statements in support of climate education, visit:
A GLIMPSE OF THE DAWN OF THE DEED
NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of John A. Long’s The Dawn of the Deed: The Prehistoric Origins of Sex (University of Chicago Press, 2012). The preview consists of chapter 8, “At the Dawn of Archaic Sex,” in which Long asks, “So when and why did organisms first start reproducing by sex?” and answers with the first eukaryotes “1.78 to 1.68 billion years ago,” and because sexual populations “can adapt more readily to changes in environment .. [and] are less prone to accumulation of deleterious mutations in their genes.”
The reviewer for Publishers Weekly writes, “Combining thoughtful science with sheer fun, this book is impossible to put down. … The book is far from prurient, even though it’s intriguing to hypothesize how 70-ton dinosaurs might have copulated. Long provides great insight into the process of science and makes the compelling case that understanding the history of sexual congress offers incontrovertible documentation of the evolutionary process.” John A. Long is vice president of research and collections at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
For the preview of The Dawn of the Deed (PDF), visit:
For information about the book from its publisher, visit:
Thanks for reading. And don’t forget to visit NCSE’s website— http://ncse.com—where you can always find the latest news on evolution and climate education and threats to them.
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
May 30th, 2013 Bob
A special biodiversity event this summer!
The US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge, and the Southeastern Bat Diversity Network are proud to announce the 2013 Bat Blitz to be hosted in Tahlequah, OK. This is a great opportunity for those interested in bat netting techniques, acoustics, identification, and networking within the bat community. Dates for the event are July 28 – August 1. Registration is only $25 for students and $50 for non-students. Lodging, food, travel to field sites, t-shirt, and float trip are included in the registration fee. Registration is now open until June 7th and will be limited to 100 participants.
More information can be found by visiting www.SBDN.org.
BioBlitz! Oklahoma is one of the many partners for this unique event.
May 28th, 2013 Bob
Rhode Island is First State to Adopt the Next Generation Science Standards
Rhode Island has become the first state to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) after a unanimous vote on May 23 by the members of the state’s Board of Education.
“Rhode Island is proud to be the first to forge a new path for science education as both a leading state in the development and the first state to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards,” said Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist. “The new standards will make sure our students are exposed to rigorous science content and that they learn critical and contextual thinking skills needed to be prepared for college, career and life in the 21st century global economy.”
The NGSS establish educational goals that can give K–12 students the skills and knowledge they need to be informed citizens, college ready, and prepared for STEM careers.
The standards are voluntary and were developed with the leadership of 26 states—including Rhode Island—that chose to be a central part of the development process and who pledged to give serious consideration to adopting them. NSTA was a partner in the development process and supports their adoption nationwide.
In other NGSS news, on June 13 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET, Education Week will host a web seminar featuring a state and a district official as they explore the changes in science education envisioned by the new standards and what they will mean from the state and district levels down to the classroom. Presenters include Alan King, curriculum director, Kansas City School District, and Peter McLaren, science and technology specialist, Rhode Island Department of Education. To register, click here.
NSTA continues its series of web seminars on NGSS crosscutting concepts. All seminars will be held from 6:30 to 8:00 pm ET.
Knowing Student Misconceptions is Key to Science Teaching and Learning
As part of an unusual study, Philip Sadler, the Frances W. Wright Senior Lecturer in the Department of Astronomy at Harvard University, and colleagues tested 181 middle school physical science teachers and nearly 10,000 of their students, and showed that while most of the teachers were well-versed in their subject, those better able to predict their students’ wrong answers on standardized tests helped students learn the most.Knowing Student Misconceptions is Key to Science Teaching and Learning
Want to learn more on this subject? Page Keeley’s Uncovering Student Ideas in Science series (available from NSTA Press) gives teachers formative assessment probes designed to reveal students’ existing ideas and misconceptions about science topics. When teachers know what students are thinking, they can better tailor lessons to help students move from their current ideas to deeper understanding of science concepts.
NSTA Legislative Update
NSTA was one of 110 groups that signed a letter to Congressman Lamar Smith, Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space & Technology, expressing concern about recent Congressional actions focused on the National Science Foundation’s merit review process for awarding research grants.
Also last week, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee approved the comprehensive immigration bill (S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act) that included an amendment providing up to $100 million annually for the Department of Education to fund K–12 STEM education in the states. This is in addition to language already included in the base bill that would provide roughly $100 million to $150 million in extra funding for STEM education at the National Science Foundation. The bill is expected to go to the Senate floor for debate in June and similar legislation is expected to be introduced in the House. Read more »
Major STEM Opportunity: Student Spaceflight Experiments Program—Mission 5 to the International Space Station
The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education, and NanoRacks announce Mission 5 to the International Space Station. This STEM education opportunity immerses students in grades 5–14 across a community in authentic, high-visibility research, with the ability to design and propose real experiments to fly in low Earth orbit on the International Space Station.
Each participating community will be provided a real microgravity research mini-laboratory capable of supporting a single experiment, and all launch services to fly it to the Space Station in spring 2014. A nine-week experiment design competition in each community typically engages 300 students, allowing student teams to design and formally propose real experiments vying for their community’s reserved mini-lab on Space Station. Content resources for teachers and students support foundational instruction on science in microgravity and experimental design. Additional programming leverages the experiment design competition to engage the community, embracing a Learning Community Model for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education.
All interested communities are asked to inquire by June 30, 2013; schools and districts need to assess interest with their staff and, if appropriate, move forward with an Implementation Plan. Communities must be aboard by September 4, 2013, for the nine-week experiment design phase (September 9 to November 11, 2013) and flight experiment selection by December 12, 2013.
Contact: 301-395-0770 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lab Out Loud Takes a Close Look at a Microscope Camera
For Lab Out Loud‘s final episode of the season, hosts Brian Bartel and Dale Basler talk with Exo Labs CTO and co-founder Jeff Stewart. As a new startup in science education, Exo Labs recently released their Focus microscope camera and iPad app. Replacing the eyepiece on any standard microscope, the Focus camera streams a high-quality image to the iPad screen, where it can be recorded and shared. Stewart talks about the Focus camera, its use in classrooms and engineering applications, and how you can help support their Kickstarter effort.
President Obama Announces Sally Ride as a Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Last week President Obama announced he will award a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to Dr. Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut to travel to space.
In a press release, President Obama said: “We remember Sally Ride not just as a national hero, but as a role model to generations of young women. Sally inspired us to reach for the stars, and she advocated for a greater focus on the science, technology, engineering and math that would help us get there. Sally showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve.”
The Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. Read more »
Master’s Degree for Science Educators—Montana State University, Bozeman
The Master of Science in Science Education (MSSE) degree program is designed exclusively for science educators to improve science content knowledge with courses that offer science content and innovative teaching strategies specific to each science discipline. Students choose from a large variety of online and summer field courses across all science subjects of interest. Eighty percent of the program is delivered at a distance to allow teachers to continue to work as they pursue an advanced degree. Unique program characteristics make this program especially appealing to both traditional and nontraditional science educators.
Reminder: Summer registration is still open for a variety of exceptional science field and online courses!
Summer field course opportunities to consider:
- BIOL 591 Alpine Ecology
- BIOE 522 Birds of Prey
- LRES 591 Yellowstone Lake Ecology
Examples of online summer courses offered:
- CHMY 591 Exploring Biochemistry II: Metabolism
- MB 541 Microbial Genetics
- EDCI 537 Contemporary Issues in Science Education
For additional information on the MSSE degree program and a complete list of summer course offerings, please visit www.montana.edu/msse.
May 25th, 2013 Bob
Oklahoma Journal of School Science (OJSS)
Call for Papers
The Oklahoma Science Teachers Association (OSTA) is requesting PK-20 science teachers and science teacher educators to submit manuscripts for publication in the inaugural Oklahoma Journal of School Science (OJSS). We are inviting manuscripts for review that have not been submitted for consideration or published elsewhere. The OJSS will be published twice each academic year – November and March. The online journal is intended to be an outlet for teachers from elementary to college level (PK-20) to share their ideas and beliefs about the teaching and learning of science. The content should reflect the needs of its audience of classroom teachers and teacher educators. Publishing in OSTA’s peer-reviewed journal is your opportunity to make a positive contribution to science programs at your level of practice (elementary school, middle school, high school, or college).
The OSTA encourages manuscripts that provide original, exemplary, innovative, classroom-tested, inquiry activities and resources focused on PK-20 science education. OSTA also welcomes manuscripts describing proven innovations in pedagogical approaches for the science classroom, as well as interdisciplinary science experiences and successful partnerships and programs. Manuscripts should relate to the Oklahoma C3 Standards for science, and, if applicable, should correlate to the Common Core State Standards and /or the Next Generation Science Standards.
All authors must be members of OSTA before manuscript is published. To join OSTA please access http://www.oklahomascienceteachersassociation.org/. Please refer to the OJSS Author Guidelines for more information. Questions? Contact the OJSS Editors.
Manuscript submission deadlines:
August 1, 2013 for November 2013 Issue
December 1, 2013 for March 2014 Issue
May 9th, 2013 Bob
A Special Offer for Teacher Appreciation Week
We can’t thank our educators enough during Teacher Appreciation Week. To shower our teachers with well-deserved gratitude, we’re excited to make this special offer—spend $50 on NSTA Press books, as seen in our recent spring catalog, and take $15 off.
Check out the digital catalog here, or browse the Science Store to view and make purchases. You can also download free sample chapters in the Science Store.
- If you spend $50 on NSTA Press print books, receive $15 off with promo code DESERVED at checkout.
- If you spend $50 on NSTA Press e-books, receive $15 off with promo code EDESERVED at checkout.
Offer is valid until Friday, May 17.
Attend Free Web Seminars for Classroom-Ready Lessons
NSTA web seminars are a quick, easy, and engaging way to enhance your own professional learning. Participating educators gain immediate access to lessons, science content, online resources, and instructional strategies that can be used in the classroom right away. The lineup of free web seminars in May features scientists and education experts from NASA, MIT, and the American Chemical Society to name some of our renowned sponsors.
- May 9: Engineering Design Challenge: Lunar Plant Growth Chamber
- May 15: Introduction to Biology—The Secret of Life: Pedagogical Implications Discussion
- May 20: Chemical Change—Introducing a Free Online Resource for Middle School Chemistry
- May 21: The Curiosity Rover: Robotic Geologist and Explorer
Get details on these web seminars, view the full calendar of upcoming programs, and register here.
Develop Your STEM Strategies in St. Louis
Learn strategies for implementing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) into classroom curriculum at NSTA’s STEM Forum & Expo. Scheduled for May 15–18 in St. Louis, Missouri, the forum has a robust agenda for preK–12 teachers in all STEM disciplines and includes administrators and STEM partners (both public and private sector organizations). For the first time our program offers panel discussions on key issues of interest and concern related to STEM teaching, led by top experts from across the country.
Panel titles include the following:
- What is a STEM School and What Does it Look Like?
- Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards
- State STEM Networks—How Are They Working to Change STEM Education
- STEM in Urban Science Education and Engaging and Keeping More Girls and Minorities in STEM
- Public/Private Partnerships, Out of School and Informal Programs that Excite Students about the World of STEM
- Putting the T and E in Your STEM Program
- A Whole School Approach to STEM: What You Need to Know
- Promising STEM Programs
Also available are more than 300 hands-on, practical workshops targeted to preK, elementary, middle level, high school, administrators and leadership partners on a host of STEM related topics. Check out sample sessions:
- After-School STEM
- STEM in the Primary Classroom (grades 3–5)
- Science Journalism, Infographics, and Other Cool Stuff to Engage Students (grades 10–12)
- K–4 STEM Learning with an Environmental Twist (middle school)
- Integrating Hands-On Science with Math, English Language Arts, and Technology (grades 6–9)
- What Do Engineers Really Do? How Is Engineering Different from Science and How Does That Change My Teaching Practice? (grades 3–5)
- Exploring the Science Encountered in the Young Child’s World: Nurturing, Observing, Questioning, Investigating, Thinking, and Talking About Science (preK–2)
- Medics in Training STEM Institute (grades 6–9)
- Fostering a K–12 to College Pipeline Using Projects and Competitions, Partnerships
- Changing the Culture: Engineering as the Integrator (administrators)
Visit www.nsta.org/2013stemforum to view all workshops and to register.
Online Graduate Courses from Montana State University
Montana State University’s online graduate courses for science teachers are now open for summer registration. The courses are all part of MSU Extended University’s National Teachers Enhancement Network (NTEN).
Summer courses include “Plant Science,” “Weather & Climate,” “Adolescent Nutrition,” and “Quantum Mechanics” among others in earth science, land resources & env sci, math and more.
The courses offer between one and three graduate credits to practicing elementary, middle, high school and community college teachers, and each course is 100 percent Web-based. Courses begin in late May through early July. Teachers do not have to enroll in an MSU degree program in order to take the courses; however, courses can apply towards MSU’s new graduate certificates in science teaching and the university’s Masters of Science in Science Education degree.
Members of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) receive a discount on the courses.
Register or read more about the courses at www.scienceteacher.org. For questions, call (406) 994-7798 or (800) 435-1286 (toll-free). E-mail email@example.com
Like NTEN on Facebook and participate in giveaways this summer! And, the next 25 fans to like us will receive an NTEN carabiner keychain. Go to www.facebook.com/ScienceTeachers like the page and then email your mailing address to ExtendedU@montana.edu so we can send your keychain!
May 7th, 2013 Bob
You’ve Got Mail: Session Proposal Notifications
The review process is over, and NABT is proud to once again feature hundreds of sessions and special workshops at the NABT Professional Development Conference. For four days, biology and life science educators will be discussing challenges and developing solutions. Share your curriculum and problem sets as examples. Have questions about standards and assessments ready. Whether you are a presenter or a participant, be prepared to learn from a community of master educators. Know that you will interact, engage, and enjoy this time with your colleagues!
May 31st is the deadline for Early Bird Registration. Make sure to take advantage of discounts on registration and accommodations by registering BEFORE you leave your classroom at 2013 Conference Registration. Special workshop, field trip and meal function tickets will be coming soon.
Please note: Session acceptance letters were sent by email last week, and all presenters should know the status of their sessions at this time. Acceptance notifications for special workshops will be sent by May 15th. All conference presenters must register by May 31st to have their sessions included in the program. Please contact NABT at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have not received your notice.
NABT Call for Proposals:
Biology Education Research Symposium
All researchers from 4-year, 2-year and K-12 areas are welcome.
The NABT Four-Year College & University Section’s Biology Education Research Committee invites you to submit a proposal to present your research in biology education at the 2013 NABT Professional Development Conference. This is a refereed session and all papers will go through double blind review. Reviews will be guided by the following criteria:
- Subject/Problem: Is there a clear focus, rationale, model, theory, or philosophy upon which the proposal is based?
- Design or Procedure: Are the methodology, procedure, design, and organization appropriate?
- Analyses and Findings: Do the syntheses of ideas or data analyses and findings appear to be appropriate and complete? Do the conclusions drawn follow from the data?
- Contribution: Do the conclusions contribute valuable insights into the teaching/learning of biology?
- General Interest: Does the presentation promise to be of general interest to NABT members?
The format will be a traditional presentation for papers by individual or co-authors lasting 15 minutes each with an additional five – ten minutes for questions.
In email text please include: Names of author(s) with organization affiliation (University, College, School System), Title of Submission, Abstract (up to 200 words to be used in program if selected), Contact information for notification.
Submit a WORD document of the proposal as an attachment (maximum five pages including references). Please write the title at the top of each page in caps. The body of the proposal should address the criteria as used in the review process: 1) subject/problem; 2) the design/procedure; 3) Analysis and Findings; 4) Contribution; and 5) General Interest. Proposals should be word-processed using a 12 font, single-spaced, with 1” margins format. Please DO NOT include author identifiers in this document. These WORD documents will be made into a PDF by the Chair of the research committee prior to submitting to the reviewers to ensure a blind review process.
Send your completed proposal document to NABTresearch@gmail.com with 2013 NABT Research Proposal in the subject heading. Members of the Research Committee will send copies of your document without names and affiliation to at least two reviewers. After review, committee members will select proposals with the highest scores for acceptance in the 2013 NABT Professional Conference Research Symposium.
The proposal submission deadline is midnight on June 15, 2013. Blind review will take place in June with final selection by June 30, 2013. Submitters will be notified of acceptance or denial in early July. All presenters are required to register for the conference and provide an electronic manuscript for distribution through the Proceedings. More information and proceedings from past symposia can be found at 2013 NABT Research Symposium.
Participate In Endangered Species Day On May 17th
The 8th annual national Endangered Species Day on May 17 offers biology, ecology, general science and other teachers an ideal opportunity to educate students about the importance of protecting threatened and endangered plant and animal species. In addition to classroom discussions, there are several ways they can participate in Endangered Species Day, such as:
- Plan a school-wide Endangered Species Day fair with exhibits.
- Arrange a special display in the school library.
- Invite a local expert to speak to the school/class.
- Work with a community/environmental group on a habitat restoration project.
- Attend an event at a local zoo, aquarium, botanic garden or other location.
Depending on your school schedule, you can plan events earlier in May, on Endangered Species Day (5/17) itself, or that weekend. Once a specific activity is planned, the class can register it on the Endangered Species Day website at www.endangeredspeciesday.org.
There are appropriate resources and other support items for your event. Be sure to check out the new and updated materials in the Endangered Species Day Toolkit on the website, including event planning tips, stickers, bookmarks, fliers, banners, passports, coloring/activity sheets (many of which can be downloaded and printed) and more. The website also features a Teacher Resource Center/Teacher Forum.
For additional information, contact David Robinson, Endangered Species Day Director: email@example.com.
Got Lactase? New HHMI Short Film Released
Human babies drink milk; it’s the food especially provided for them by their mothers. Various cultures have also added the milk of other mammals to their diet and adults think nothing of downing a glass of cows’ milk. But worldwide, only a third of adults can actually digest lactose, the sugar in milk. Got Lactase? The Co-evolution of Genes and Culture tells the fascinating story of how people living in pastoralist societies evolved the ability to digest milk —a compelling example of the co-evolution of human genes and culture.
In this short film, you follow human geneticist Spencer Wells, Director of the Genographic Project of the National Geographic Society, as he tracks down the genetic changes associated with the ability to digest lactose as adults, tracing the origin of the trait to less than 10,000 years ago, a time when some human populations started domesticating animals, including goats, sheep, and cows. Combining genetics, chemistry, and anthropology, this story provides a compelling example of the co-evolution of human genes and human culture.
Watch the film online or order the DVD: The Making of the Fittest Vol. 2. You can also download the film guides for classroom discussion ideas, a student quiz, and teacher tips.
Free College Planning Website For Your Students
It’s graduation time and your students are thinking about the next phase of their education. Make sure they know about My College Options, the largest college and career planning community in the country. With over 94% of high schools and over 70% of high school students participating, this FREE website highlights thousands of colleges and universities that offer a wide range of post-secondary opportunities and resources for students to explore.
Registration with My College Options provides students with their personal online college and career planning profile, where their needs, talents and interests are instantly matched with colleges and universities across the nation. In addition to providing a vital link for students to the colleges that meet their needs, benefits and resources include test preparation, scholarship matching, and expert advice on the college planning process.
My College Options offers resources for parents, educators and counselors as well. Parents can learn about the transition from high school to college, research and be involved in the college selection process, and find essential information on the daunting task of paying for college. Counselors and educators can review the college matches for their students, compare their unique high school report to state and national statistics, and access our comprehensive college and career planning resource center.
For more information, please visit www.mycollegeoptions.org.
May 3rd, 2013 Bob
REPEAL EFFORTS FAILS AGAIN IN LOUISIANA
Louisiana’s Senate Bill 26 was tabled on a 3-2 vote in the Senate Committee on Education on May 1, 2013, which effectively kills the bill in committee, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune (May 1, 2013). The bill, introduced by Karen Carter Peterson (D-District 5), would, if enacted, repeal Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:285.1, which implemented the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, passed and enacted in 2008, and thus opened the door for scientifically unwarranted criticisms of evolution and climate science to be taught in the state’s public schools. It was the third bill of its kind, following SB 374 in 2012 and SB 70 in 2011.
The law targeted for repeal calls on state and local education administrators to help to promote “critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning”; these four topics were described as controversial in the original draft of the legislation. It also allows teachers to use “supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner” if so permitted by their local school boards.
Since 2008, antievolutionists have not only sought to undermine the law’s provision allowing challenges to unsuitable supplementary materials, but have also reportedly invoked the law to support proposals to teach creationism in at least two parishes—Livingston and Tangipahoa—and to attack the treatment of evolution in biology textbooks proposed for adoption by the state. Recently, speaking to NBC News on April 12, 2013, Louisiana’s governor Bobby Jindal (R), who signed the bill into law over the protests of the state’s scientific and educational communities, acknowledged that the LSEA allows teachers to “teach our kids about creationism.”
Among those testifying in favor of the repeal was Zack Kopplin, who was quoted by the Associated Press (May 1, 2013) as describing the LSEA as “about going back into the Dark Ages, not moving forward into the 21st [c]entury,” adding, “Louisiana students deserve to be taught sound science and that means the theory of evolution, not creationism.” Tammy Wood, a Zachary-area science teacher, highlighted the failure of the LSEA to provide “the necessary restrictions, standards, and guidelines” to avoid its misuse to promote “mere nonsense masquerading as a viable alternative.” The complete video of the hearing is available on-line.
In advance of the hearing, Kopplin published two op-eds arguing for the repeal. Writing in the Guardian (May 1, 2013), he emphasized (in the words of the headline) “the cost of teaching creationism—in reputation and dollars” to the state: “Any state that passes a creationism law will harm their students and drive scientists—and business—away.” Writing at MSNBC (May 1, 2013), he addressed Governor Jindal directly: “it’s time to take your own advice and actually lead the Republican Party toward being a smarter party by endorsing evidence-based science, and the repeal of Louisiana’s creationism law.”
Among those endorsing the repeal effort are 78 Nobel laureate scientists, the National Association of Biology Teachers, the Louisiana Association of Biology Educators, the Louisiana Coalition for Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute for Biological Sciences, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the American Society for Cell Biology, the Society for the Study of Evolution together with the Society of Systematic Biologists and the American Society of Naturalists, the Clergy Letter Project, the New Orleans City Council, and the Baton Rouge Advocate.
For the text of Louisiana’s Senate Bill 26 as introduced (PDF), visit:
For the story in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, visit:
For NCSE’s story on Jindal’s connecting the LSEA with creationism, visit:
For the Associated Press story (via the Alexandria Town Talk), visit:
For the video of the committee’s hearing, visit:
For Kopplin’s op-eds in the Guardian and at MSNBC, visit:
And for NCSE’s previous coverage of events in Louisiana, visit:
HANSEN RECEIVES RIDENHOUR COURAGE PRIZE
NCSE is delighted to congratulate James E. Hansen on receiving the Ridenhour Courage Prize for 2013. Hansen was recognized “for bravely and urgently telling the truth about climate change, even when the Bush administration tried to silence and penalize him as director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Rather than giving in, or giving up, Dr. Hansen—one of the world’s most tireless and articulate activists—has courageously and continuously led the fight to save the planet ever since.” A member of NCSE’s Advisory Council, Hansen recently resigned as the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute after thirty-two years.
The Ridenhour Courage Prize is presented to an individual in recognition of his or her courageous and life-long defense of the public interest and passionate commitment to social justice, and carries with it a $10,000 stipend. The prize is awarded by the Fertel Foundation and the Nation Institute in memory of the investigative journalist Ron Ridenhour, who brought the horrific events of the My Lai massacre to the attention of the American people in 1969. Previous recipients include John Lewis, Russ Feingold, Howard Zinn, Bob Herbert, Bill Moyers, Jimmy Carter, Gloria Steinem, Seymour M. Hersh, and Daniel Ellsberg.
For the prize citation, visit:
EVOLUTION IN PENNSYLVANIA
In a wide-ranging article, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (April 28, 2013) discussed “the ill-kept secret about public school biology classrooms nationwide—that evolution often isn’t taught robustly, if at all.” In Pennsylvania as around the nation, “[f]aith-based belief in creationism and intelligent design continues to be discussed and even openly taught in public school classrooms, despite state curriculum standards.”
In a poll of Pennsylvania’s science teachers conducted by the paper in early 2013, 89.5% of respondents said that they believed in the theory of evolution, 13.3% in intelligent design, and 19.1% in creationism;
4.76% were not sure or expressed a different view. (Respondents were allowed to chose more than one option.) There were 105 respondents; further details of how the poll was conducted were not provided. Michael Berkman of Pennsylvania State University, who with Eric Plutzer and Julianna Pacheco conducted a rigorous national study of high school biology teachers on the topic of evolution in 2007, told the Post-Gazette that between 17 and 21 percent of teachers introduce creationism into the classroom, but added that the most alarming finding was the prevalence of teachers who “throw doubt [on] and downplay evolution” without introducing creationism. G. Kip Bollinger, who retired as scientific education consultant for the Pennsylvania Department of Education in 2004, observed that “Many school districts shy away from the controversy and many teachers don’t want to be the center of the controversy … So it’s not surprising that evolution is not given its due as an important theory of science. … I would receive letters written by congregations around the state decrying that evolution was included in the state’s science education standards.”
David Lampe, a professor of biology at Duquesne University, regularly polls his first-year biology students about their high school experience with learning evolution before his class begins. “His results indicate that a quarter to a third of freshmen claim to have had no instruction in evolution, with another third saying that only two class days or fewer were devoted to the topic. Only a third received three days or more of instruction on the topic.” Yet there are efforts underway to introduce a bill in the Pennsylvania legislature that “would allow teachers to teach alternative theories of evolution and climate change and other controversial topics, without facing sanctions.” As NCSE previously reported, these efforts follow on the heels of a series of presentations from young-earth and “intelligent design” creationists in a Murrysville, Pennsylvania, church. No such bill has yet been introduced, however. At the end of the presentations, the Post-Gazette noted, “a teacher in the audience submitted a written question asking … how a teacher can introduce creationism into the classroom without facing sanctions.” The answer, from the chief counsel from the Pennsylvania Family Institute, “which is spearheading the campaign for a Pennsylvania academic freedom bill,” was “There is a lot that a teacher can get away with in the classroom if you do it wisely and gently.” NCSE’s Joshua Rosenau described the bill as “a permission slip for teachers already teaching creationism to say that they are just encouraging critical thinking,” and Duquesne’s David Lampe challenged the “academic freedom” slogan directly, explaining, “It’s not freedom to say anything you want in the classroom. In the classroom, you are obligated to teach scientific facts and methods. It’s not a forum for teachers to go off and talk about whatever they want to.” Later, the Post-Gazette offered its editorial view, writing (April 30, 2013), “A science teacher who doesn’t accept evolution is like a math teacher who denies calculus,” and adding, “The ones who suffer from this breach in the wall of separation between church and state are the nation’s children. The urgent effort to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education are undone every time a teacher banishes scientific facts from a classroom.” The last antievolution legislation in Pennsylvania was House Bill 1007. If enacted, the bill would have allowed school boards to add “intelligent design” to any curriculum containing evolution and allowed teachers to use, subject to the approval of their board, “supporting evidence deemed necessary for instruction on the theory of intelligent design.” The bill received a hearing in the House Subcommittee on Basic Education in June 2005, but proceeded no further.
For the article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, visit:
For Berkman, Pacheco, and Plutzer’s 2008 article, visit:
For the editorial in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, visit:
For the text of Pennsylvania’s House Bill 1007 in 2005, visit:
And for NCSE’s previous coverage of events in Pennsylvania, visit:
Don’t forget to visit NCSE’s website—http://ncse.com—where you can always find the latest news on evolution and climate education and threats to them.
April 22nd, 2013 Bob
By Janet Barresi, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Monday, April 22, 2013
As I meet with teachers from across the state, I hear a common theme. I talk with working groups of teachers here at the state department. I’ve had the opportunity to visit with past and present teachers of the year. I also have roundtable discussions with teachers at the school districts I visit on my Raise the Grade Together tours. I listen to superintendents in my leadership advisory group. These educators tell me they are frustrated with “teaching to the test.” Parents and community members often mirror these sentiments. I agree!
The time has come to have a serious discussion about this. I want teachers to know I am committed to working with them and the rest of the education community. This summer and in the fall, together with these groups, we will conduct an audit of all the different assessments given across the state, including federal, state and district level assessments.
I am proposing this study to help identify the best assessments that will provide feedback regarding instructional strategies so teachers can better meet the needs of their students. As we move to new assessments in the next few years, educators will use some familiar tools, including data, technology and texts. They will also use new instructional strategies that are a critical component of all our new Oklahoma C3 Standards. These include strategies to promote critical thinking and problem solving as well as practical application of securely held foundational knowledge. Working together, we can identify areas of duplication and unproductive assessments. Perhaps, we may even find places where we can save money and put dollars back into the classroom.
Through my advocacy and policy work over the past 17 years, and now serving as your state superintendent, there is one thing I know for sure. Our current state tests are by and large memory tests. (emphasis added) Every educator knows that tests that rely more on rote memory of facts yield very little in retained knowledge. Our current OCCT tests are aligned to the Oklahoma PASS standards. The state is currently transitioning to the new Oklahoma C3 Standards through the rewrite, revision or replacement process. The PASS Standards are a “mile wide and an inch deep.” The new Oklahoma C3 Standards are characterized as “narrower, deeper, higher.” They are narrower in focus to allow teachers to develop foundational knowledge in their students. They are deeper so teachers are able to spend more time on content to assure mastery of subject matter and higher because they focus on developing critical thinking skills that are a must for success in the 21st Century. In other words, we are teaching children to master information that is critical to their success and also teaching them how to think.
A close comparison of the two sets of standards explains why. With the old PASS Standards, teachers tend to be boxed into a system of teaching that reduces itself to drill work of students. That helps no one. It is not engaging to students, does not lend itself to mastery of subject matter and does not allow the teachers to develop thinking skills in their students. In other words, the old system makes the teacher work to “get the kids through the test.” Very little information is provided to the teacher and all that is really known is whether or not the student passed and did they improve?
Teachers need more detailed information about what a student should know and be able to do. A math teacher needs to know more than whether or not the student got the right or wrong answer on a test item. That educator needs actionable information on whether or not the student set up the formulae correctly to answer the question. They need to know if they arrived at the correct answer, and if the variables in the problem are changed, how well does the student understand the principle being taught in order to adjust the formulae to arrive at a correct answer for the new variables. The assessment yields better information more precisely targeted to what is being taught and will yield information that is actionable. In other words, instead of the teacher working for the test, the test must work for the teacher. The new academic assessments being developed for social studies, science, for English language arts and mathematics are academic tools for teachers because they evaluate students’ knowledge base across all domains of knowledge.
These should provide teachers with critical information about the strengths and weaknesses of each of their students. They will help teachers know how to adjust instruction. The information derived from them will provide the entire education team including principals and superintendents the valuable information they need to work together as a team to provide the most optimal opportunities for each child. Our state’s new academic assessments are being designed to do just that. If you think about it, we are promoting effective teaching practices, assuring mastery of subject matter, developing cognitive skills and are developing an academic assessment for students that measures all of those skills and informs future practice by educators.
We have engaged teachers and principals in a comprehensive effort of professional development to prepare educators for the new system. Our goal is to create an environment of continuous learning spurred on by innovations in instructional strategies that are student centered, research based and data driven.
My next column will be about how we’re communicating with educators and the public and the training we’re providing to support educators throughout the state.
April 22nd, 2013 Bob
NSTA Student Competition Teams to Participate in April 22 (TODAY) White House Science Fair
Student teams from NSTA’s student competitions—Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision, the U.S. Army’s eCYBERMISSION and the DuPont Science Essay Competition—will join President Obama for the White House Science Fair on Monday, April 22, starting at 11:30 a.m. ET. The president will speak at 2:25 p.m. The event will be webcast live at www.whitehouse.gov/live.
Elementary students Evan Jackson, Alec Jackson, and Caleb Robinson (at right) from Flippen Elementary School in McDonough, Georgia, will present their 2012 National award-winning ExploraVision project “COOL Pads: Shoulder Pads that Keep Players Safe from Overheating.”
Hayden Hilst, Riya Kaul, and Rebecca (Becca) Mackey (at left) from Jenks East Intermediate School in Jenks, Oklahoma, will present their eCYBERMISSION winning project that explored the benefits of using technologically advanced energy and water efficiency devices in their school.
Representing the 2012 DuPont Science Essay Competition will be Mike Espy from Little Snake River Valley High School in Baggs, Wyoming, for his essay titled “Moo-ing Energy,” and Cecelia Poole, from Carvel Academy in Bear, Delaware, for her essay titled “Breathe Easy: Bronchial Thermoplasty.”
The President hosted the first-ever White House Science Fair in late 2010 to celebrate the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions from across the country. As part of the Administration’s Educate to Innovate campaign, the President told students in 2010 that “If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you’re a young person and you produce the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too.”
Congratulations to these teams for their achievements, and plan to watch the White House Science Fair live Monday at 2:25 p.m. ET.
Congratulations to the 2013 DuPont Challenge Science Essay Competition Winners
This year’s winners of the DuPont Challenge researched and wrote about some of the world’s most pressing issues: Feeding the World, Building an Energy Secure Future, Protecting People and the Environment, and Innovative Science. Twenty-six NSTA members judged the nearly 10,000 thought-provoking essays, selecting eight winners. This is quite an honor for the students and the sponsoring science teacher. The winners will receive US Savings Bonds, reference materials from Britannica Digital Learning and NBC Learn, and much more. Grand prize and first runners-up winners along with a parent and sponsoring teacher are packing their bags for an all-expenses paid trip to Orlando, Florida, and the award ceremony at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Learn more about these amazing winners of the 2013 DuPont Challenge here.
National Environmental Education Week Resources
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan relates how environmental education can be a tool to improve student health and engagement in STEM fields in a public service announcement for National Environmental Education Week (EE Week). “We know so many of the jobs of the future are in the STEM fields, and there are so many great ties between STEM education and environmental education,” he said. View the PSA here.
To celebrate EE Week, the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) has released a variety of timely resources. Its video toolkit demonstrates lessons that use technology to connect students to the natural world. Its 10 Apps for Taking Tech Outdoors and Tech & Our Planet infographic illustrate the widespread use of technology among kids and adults and possibilities for environmental learning, career pathways, and implications for the economy. NEEF is also sponsoring an Environmental Educator Photo Contest running through May 31, 2013.
Secretary Duncan will also announce the second annual U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools and first-ever District Sustainability Awardees on April 22 at 10:30 a.m. ET. Honored schools and districts will have an important role to play modeling best practices for all schools who wish to provide an education geared toward the challenges and jobs of the future, which is why the Department of Education will release a report with summaries of each of the honorees.
NSTA Legislative Update: President’s FY2014 Budget Consolidates Major STEM Education Programs
As expected, President Obama’s FY2014 budget request includes a major reorganization of federal STEM education programs, and comprehensive immigration legislation introduced last week by the Gang of Eight contains funding for STEM education. Read all about it in this issue of the NSTA Legislative Update.
Register for April 30 Web Seminar on Crosscutting Concept; Energy and Matter—Flows, Cycles, and Conservation
Prepare for NGSS in your classroom by learning more about the important crosscutting concept of Energy and Matter—Flows, Cycles, and Conservation. This web seminar will be held April 30 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. ET. Join Andy Anderson in this great professional development experience that will explore the role that energy and matter play in science, how student understanding of energy and matter might develop over the course of K–12 education, how learning about energy and matter can take place during the learning of disciplinary core ideas by engaging in scientific and engineering practices, and what studying energy and matter really looks like in the classroom. Visit the NSTA Learning Center to register.
Dive Into NGSS with the NSTA Reader’s Guide to the Next Generation Science Standards
The e-book is available now and the print edition coming in May. Written by science education expert Harold Pratt, the publication gives readers a deep understanding of NGSS core ideas, scientific and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts. To order, visit the NSTA Science Store. View the standards online at www.nextgenscience.org or www.nsta.org/ngss. Want your own print version of the entire NGSS (coming this fall)? Pre-order your print version now at the NSTA Science Store.
Three New Everyday Science Mysteries Books for K–8 Classrooms
Everyone loves a good mystery—and thousands of teachers love the way the Everyday Science Mysteries series gets K–8 students engaged in real experimentation about real science content. Our three new releases in this bestselling series each focus on a specific content area—Earth and space science, physical science, or biological science. The stories come with lists of science concepts to explore, grade-appropriate strategies for using them, and explanations of how the lessons align with national standards. They also relieve you of the tiring work of designing every one of your inquiry lessons from scratch.
Member Price: $20.76 | Nonmember Price: $25.95
Scholarships for New Science Teachers—Apply by August 1
Special career-enhancing experiences for middle and high school science teachers in their second through fifth year can be found through the New Science Teachers Academy, a yearlong professional development and mentoring program that offers unique support and resources. Hundreds of teachers will be chosen to participate in the 2013–2014 Academy and take advantage of cost-free, consistent online professional development activities along with face-to-face educational experiences. Simply apply and take control of your career. Principals should consider making this a priority for their newest science teachers.
The Academy provides each teacher with
To find out more about the Academy and how to apply for a scholarship, visit www.nsta.org/academy. The application deadline is August 1.
Lab Out Loud Episode 95: Helping Students Imagine Mars
This week hosts Brian Bartel and Dale Basler talk with David Delgado, lead of the Imagine Mars project from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The Imagine Mars Project gives students a chance to work with scientists and engineers to build and design a future human community on Mars. Listen to Lab Out Loud to learn about the project and other educational outreach opportunities from JPL.
Focusing the Lens on STEM
Do you need help implementing engineering concepts in your early childhood classroom? Are skills development in math and science preparing students well enough for integration of technology and engineering into the curriculum? Get hands-on experience and practical knowledge for improving student performance in STEM subjects. Learn how to put an action plan into place. Participate in panel discussions and teacher workshops that include instructional models and activities. Attend NSTA’s second STEM Forum & Expo in St. Louis, Missouri, May 15–18.
- PreK–2 (Early Childhood)
- Grades 3–5
- Grades 6–9
- Grades 10–12
- Effective STEM Partnerships
- Successful K–12 STEM Schools
- Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards
- State STEM networks—How Are They Working to Change STEM Education?
- STEM in Urban Science Education and Engaging—and Keeping—More Girls and Minorities in STEM
- Public/Private Partnerships, Out-of-School and Informal Programs that Excite Students to the World of STEM
- Putting the “T” and “E” in Your STEM Program
- A Whole School Approach to STEM: What You Need to Know
- Promising STEM Programs: Three to Watch
For more information, including a list of teacher workshops, visit www.nsta.org/2013stemforum. Register today.
Online Courses from the American Museum of Natural History
Are you interested in learning about evolution? Do you want to know more about Earth or the solar system? Are you looking for graduate or professional development credit? If so, check out the Seminars on Science program from the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). Online courses run from May 27 through July 7 and include Earth: Inside and Out; Climate Change; The Solar System; Evolution; Genetics, Genomics, Genethics, and more.
Each course is available for graduate credit and is co-taught by an experienced educator and a scientist. For more information, or to register, visit www.amnh.org/learn or contact AMNH directly.
Registration deadline: May 13
Popular Science Magazine/Delta Science Fair
Calling All Teachers!
Know a student with a genius idea for a science project that could help make the world cleaner and greener? Here is a chance to share it with the world and win cash prizes! Popular Science magazine in partnership with Delta is hosting its 1st Annual Science Fair and is now accepting submissions for best original science projects in the category of sustainability.
This nationwide competition is open to elementary, middle school, high school, and college students. Judges will select one Grand Prize winner and runner-up winners in each of the four educational divisions. Prizes include cash awards and the chance to see your project in the pages of Popular Science magazine!
To learn more and register, visit www.popsci.com/sciencefair.
Science of Innovation
NBC Learn, in partnership with the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, looks at the Science of Innovation. More than just a single event or brilliant idea, innovation is a process that anyone from a garage tinkerer to a federally-funded scientist can take to discover new solutions. This 11-part series, narrated by NBC’s Ann Curry, highlights top innovators from across the country working on innovative projects in industries such as healthcare, energy, transportation, and agriculture. Free lesson plans are provided by NSTA.