Teaching Visually-impaired Students

I am writing to ask for suggestions to teach visually-impaired students science. How do you suggest to teach such students? — M., Iowa


First, you need to get to know the student as an individual learner. Start by asking the student how you can support them in your class. Then, discover and contact the supports for that child—teaching assistants, case workers, parents, resource teachers—and get information on what works and what doesn’t; which vision and reading technologies are in place and what will you need in your classroom; what services can assist you; and if you can access textbooks in braille or large print versions.

Only a fraction of legally blind people have 100% impairment, so you need to understand what level or kind of impairment each child has. For instance, a person with retinitis pigmentosa may have lost peripheral vision but retain a small central area of vision. To get an idea of what that would be like, you could spread petroleum jelly on a pair of goggles, leaving a small central area clear (or visa versa) and then try out your activities, handouts, and visuals. You should quickly realize this student would need additional time to scan across readings, visuals, and work areas.

Scan your room for mobility hazards. Pair the student with a buddy who can perform tasks that might be dangerous like using Bunsen burners. Physical objects may be an excellent tactile experience and observational exercise for the student. For dissections, allow them to perform cuts (scissors or scalpels) to their degree of ability and have them handle and touch specimens as the dissection progresses.

Hope this helps!

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Using Discourse With High School Science Students

High school students love to talk. Covering topics from music to memes, the hallway conversations are always lively. But when students enter the classroom, they suddenly have nothing to say. I believe it’s because students don’t know how to talk science. Recently, I have analyzed productive discourse among students, and what I have found confirms what I have read and heard from multiple sources:

The person doing the talking is the person doing the learning.

When planning lessons and units, I focus on ways I can create the conditions in which students have a basic knowledge and are motivated to learn more about a topic. Thinking in terms of NGSS-style planning, the time is perfect to bring in phenomena. Consider equity, and how students will react to the phenomenon. Does it connect to the history, readiness, and interests of all students? Are students interested enough to inspire the curiosity of the entire room?

Sometimes student discussions seem like unplanned, natural conversations. Sometimes they are, but usually these conversations result from more intentional planning then serendipity. I take these basic steps when planning a lesson designed to coach students to develop their own understanding or deepen their knowledge of science concepts.

1.Plan conversations in advance by anticipating questions and methods that can be used to guide student discussions while empowering them to maintain control of the conversation. It is essential to consider multiple entry points. For example, knowing students’ history and interests can help you interest them in a topic: This has been critical to the success of my lessons. It’s not surprising that students quickly become disinterested and disengaged when the topic is too unfamiliar or mundane. I also try to consider the varied levels of experience students have with the phenomenon and am prepared to provide clarifying or alternate examples. 

When engaging students with a phenomenon, I have found if I provide as little

information as possible, it nudges students to ask their own questions. My response to student questions is usually as follows:

“Why do you think that is?”

“What do the other students think?”

“How does this compare to what you know or experience you have had?”

2. Decide which scientific practices will support rigorous student discussions and determine how students will encounter appropriate vocabulary. If the reason for students’ lack of engagement in science conversations is their lack of experience with the particular lexicon, give them opportunities to interact with the material physically as a way to provide another means of understanding and increase their comfort level.

3. Consider how students’ ideas will change based on their interactions with the planned activities and discussions. Determine the type of support they will need to deepen their understanding. I have a driving question board and encourage students to contribute new questions they have during the unit. This makes their thinking visible to me and their peer collaborators and encourages students to respond to one another without my intervention.

4. Lastly, it will take more time than you think! Allow time for students to reflect and connect with their peers. Consider offering sharing opportunities such as learning walks, gallery walks, debate, and show-what-you-know activities that facilitate opportunities to consolidate ideas among groups of students, and encourage them to meet the goal of eliciting additional information.

Recently, my freshman biology students began a typical unit, What Does it Mean to Be Alive. The unit started with petri dishes of mystery substances, and their task was to determine which of the samples were living. The first step was for students to brainstorm what living things do. Their initial results are pictured. I supplied an article to help them clarify their misunderstandings, and after reading it, they updated the board and decided how to test their samples. Students decided on the following:

  1. Test for cells using microscopes.
  2. Place in water to observe growth or bubbles.
  3. Place in soil to observe growth.

Students also decided that if each group performed all three tests on one sample, they would be able to work more effectively. Groups posted their observations and images to a shared digital journal. During collaboration, they correctly identified yeast, brine shrimp cysts, beans, and corn as living, and salt as non-living.

This process took six full class periods, a considerable time investment for teaching a concept that could have been accomplished with a single class session of taking notes. However, these students were given an opportunity to brainstorm, determine testable questions, and perform their own tests, which gave them a deeper understanding of the processes and the ability to apply their knowledge in future units.

Their experience and discourse will be used during the next unit on cell theory and spontaneous generation. Students will begin by setting up a hay infusion and predicting what they will see. Their explanations will be supported by what they learned about characteristics of living things, and I will coach them toward conducting a controlled experiment much like that of Francesco Redi. I will introduce them to Leeuwenhoek’s animalcules and anticipate that they will instantly connect this to their observations. This unit will end with a presentation of various organisms found in a drop of water.

These units will ensure that my students have a solid understanding of cells. We can take a few different pathways after these lessons, such as mitosis, populations and succession, and clean water. I will consider my students’ conversations before I finally decide.

What would your students choose? Perhaps you have an idea to merge all three! If you do, please share: I’d love to hear about it.

These units review/reinforce the following DCIs:
MS-LS1-1 All living things are made up of cells, which is the smallest unit that can be said to be alive. An organism may consist of one single cell (unicellular) or many different numbers and types of cells (multicellular).

Organisms reproduce, either sexually or asexually, and transfer their genetic information to their offspring.

MS-LS2-2 Organisms, and populations of organisms, are dependent on their environmental interactions both with other living things and with nonliving factors.
These units build students’ experience with the following SEPs:
Asking Questions and Defining Problems Ask questions that arise from careful observation of phenomena, or unexpected results, to clarify and/or seek additional information.

Ask questions that arise from examining models or a theory, to clarify and/or seek additional information and relationships.

Evaluate a question to determine if it is testable and relevant.

Ask questions that can be investigated within the scope of the school laboratory, research facilities, or field (e.g., outdoor environment) with available resources, and when appropriate, frame a hypothesis based on a model or theory.

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations Plan an investigation or test a design individually and collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence as part of building and revising models, supporting explanations for phenomena, or testing solutions to problems. Consider possible variables or effects and evaluate the confounding investigation’s design to ensure variables are controlled.
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions Construct and revise an explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from a variety of sources (including students’ own investigations, models, theories, simulations, peer review) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

Apply scientific ideas, principles, and/or evidence to provide an explanation of phenomena and solve design problems, taking into account possible unanticipated effects.

Apply scientific reasoning, theory, and/or models to link evidence to the claims to assess the extent to which the reasoning and data support the explanation or conclusion.

Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information Critically read scientific literature adapted for classroom use to determine the central ideas or conclusions and/or to obtain scientific and/or technical information to summarize complex evidence, concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.

Communicate scientific and/or technical information or ideas (e.g. about phenomena and/or the process of development and the design and performance of a proposed process or system) in multiple formats (including orally, graphically, textually, and mathematically).


Bonnie Nieves teaches high school science in Massachusetts. Her professional passions include engaging students in authentic activities, incorporating restorative practices, and leveraging technology to empower students to make an impact on their community. She enjoys connecting with educators through social media, professional organizations, conferences, Twitter chats, and edcamps. Nieves is a member of the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT), Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science (TIES), NSTA, and Massachusetts Computer Using Educators (MassCUE); serves as an Elementary and Secondary Education Science and Technology Ambassador in Massachusetts; and has presented at NABT, New Hampshire Science Teachers Association (HSTA), and MassCUE. Connect with her on Twitter @biologygoddess, on Voxer @bonnienieves, and via her WordPress blog,

Note: This article was featured in the November issue of Next Gen Navigator, a monthly e-newsletter from NSTA delivering information, insights, resources, and professional learning opportunities for science educators by science educators on the Next Generation Science Standards and three-dimensional instruction.  Click here to sign up to receive the Navigator every month.

Visit NSTA’s NGSS@NSTA Hub for hundreds of vetted classroom resourcesprofessional learning opportunities, publicationsebooks and more; connect with your teacher colleagues on the NGSS listservs (members can sign up here); and join us for discussions around NGSS at an upcoming conference.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

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One District’s Path to Improving Student Discourse

If you’ve spent any time exploring the shifts in NGSS instructional practices you will understand the call for “less sage on the stage and more guide on the side.” While such a metaphor can be applied to a variety of science classroom settings, one that first comes to mind is the role of students and educators in scientific discourse. The publication Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K–8 by the National Academies identified four strands of proficiency that must be interwoven into successful science classrooms and learning. One of these strands is “participating productively in scientific practices and discourse.

Continue reading …

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Science Class: A Place Where Children Should Be Seen and Heard

I recently observed a lesson about how shadows change throughout the day, and I was fascinated by the amount of time the teacher and the class took to listen to and watch one another as they discussed the data. The careful structuring of time for analyzing data in small- and whole-group discussions gave students confidence as they shared. Ms. Hall asked her class to examine the data they collected about the length of a pencil’s shadow in the morning, at noon, and in the afternoon. The teacher also measured the shadow later in the afternoon after class so students could see how it continued to change. Continue reading …

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Center Your Learning in the NSTA Learning Center

Are you looking for a professional learning community specifically for K-16 science teachers? The NSTA Learning Center is stocked with resources, customized lesson plans, online modules, and community forums, and will change the ways you access and leverage professional learning. Research suggests that professional learning for science educators should be an ongoing, continuous endeavor taking anywhere from 50-80 hours per year. The NSTA Learning Center allows you to control the place, the pace, and the time as you work to transform instruction in your classroom.

Consider choosing one of these seven introductory steps to take advantage of what the NSTA Learning Center has to offer:

  1. Activate your account and personalize your profile.

All NSTA members already have a Learning Center account. To activate your account for the first time, use your last name and your NSTA Member Number. Once you’re logged in, make sure to upload a profile picture, school/work affiliation, your geographic location, and any professional social media channels like Twitter or Facebook. Updating your profile makes you more visible to more than 215,000 community members.

  1. Join us for web seminars, online book studies, virtual conferences, and more.

The Learning Center features opportunities to enrich your own professional learning with a range of online options, so you can engage when it works for you. Learn more about upcoming events.

  1. Search for resources.

The Learning Center offers a robust search engine that can bring you peer-reviewed resources and new online learning opportunities. Even the most basic search can bring you results not only from the NSTA vaults, but also from other users’ collections. Once you’ve selected a resource, simply “Add to Library” and it’s yours to use and share. Although the NSTA Learning Center is an open resource to anyone, NSTA Members get an extra 20% discount on fee-based resources in the Learning Center.

  1. Get recognized through Activities Badges.

Earn badges as recognition for your efforts as you aggregate, review, and share your personal and NSTA e-PD resources. You also earn badges for making posts in the community forums, for diagnosing your needs in science content, and by attending web seminars, and successfully completing online modules called SciPacks.

  1. Create a Learning Plan.

Have you ever struggled to submit a professional learning plan? Let NSTA help you with accountability by creating a personalized professional learning plan online. The Learning Plan Tool helps educators define goals, upload evidences, and create a professional looking report document your professional learning activities and growth.

  1. Join a community forum.

Despite the nagging stigma of online chat rooms, the modern world connects online. The Learning Center was developed as a way to connect with like-minded colleagues at various levels of experience. Join a community forum to learn and to share. You can always ask questions from online advisors, but you might be the one person with the answer for someone else.

  1. Develop your library—and share it with others.

Your good ideas have probably already outgrown the folder on your desktop or, even worse, the physical drawer in your classroom or office. By assembling a virtual library and cultivating collections of resources, you not only organize your digital shelf —you allow others to use what you’ve learned. Educators can benefit from your curated content, and you’ll make a greater impact than just filing that away as a resource for a rainy day.

Next time you need help with a lesson plan, developing assessments, or collecting resources, you have more than just Google as a tool. The NSTA Learning Center will help you focus on your grade level, your topics, and your interests while helping you connect with fellow educators around the world.

We know our members are leaders in their schools, districts, and communities. As you explore the rich collection of resources available in the NSTA Learning Center, advance your leadership role by sharing resources with your colleagues. As more science teachers join the NSTA Learning Center community, the richer it becomes. When someone receives resources from you, whether they are an NSTA member or not, all they have to do is create a free account to access the materials.

Not a member of NSTA? Learn more about how to join.

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Introducing the NSTA Elementary Science Position Statement

Jennifer Thompson, early elementary teacher and former chair of the NSTA Preschool and Elementary Committee, is the ideal person to introduce the updated NSTA Elementary Science Position Statement.

Welcome Jennifer!

First page of the NSTA Elementary Science Position StatementThe National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has recently revised and adopted a position statement in support of science for the elementary years, The Elementary Science Position Statement. The intention for this statement is to build on and connect the Early Childhood Science Position Statement (for ages 3 – 5) with a natural flow into the elementary years and then on to the Middle School Science Statement (for grades 6 – 8). In this way all children are supported to have science education from their earliest learning, into the more formal elementary years, and entering middle school with a background of experiences of being immersed in the practices of science and engineering.

This research based document was developed over time by a committee, many whom were serving on the NSTA Pre-school Elementary Science Education Committee, a group of elementary and early childhood teachers, researchers, professors and advocates of science education. I am hugely appreciative of the Committee’s time, energy and powerful discussions from multiple perspectives that led to the final document. Research for the position statement came from the National Research Council’s Framework for K – 12 Science Education as well as other documents and peer-reviewed articles that emphasize the importance of time, preparation and thoughtful investigations as part of the daily instruction in all years of elementary school. 

This position statement highlights and supports how children learn about their world through quality hands on investigations with appropriate materials. The Elementary Statement is worded to include the Early Childhood Science Position Statement’s emphasis that as young children use innate curiosity to explore their world, teachers and families in the elementary years will then continue these experiences with further development of science and engineering practices to construct understanding through real-world applications.  Pre-service programs, ongoing professional development for practicing teachers, and family support programs provide yet more consistent opportunities so that all students in the elementary years experience quality science as part of their education. 

Elementary student using a dropper to move and measure water.

This position statement calls for supports for elementary teachers to plan for science education as part of everyday instruction so that students have an authentic environment with time to use science materials, read, write and explain their thinking as they develop more scientific reasoning and communication skills. It is also a document that recommends and expects teachers and administrators to build science experiences throughout the local community so that all students engage with practicing scientists and engineers. When teachers are provided with training for the development of their own science knowledge background, students are empowered to apply the skills and strategies of scientists and engineers. 

Elementary age children discussing measurement of snow depth.Elementary age children discussing measurement of air temperature on a snowy day







Policy makers, administrators, community members and others can also gain direction and information from this statement to guide their  decisions that impact science in the elementary years. The statement holds policy and decision makers accountable through best practices of advocacy and funding so that the recommendations can be applied in support of all students and teachers. 

The Elementary Position Statement emphasizes the importance of a comprehensive plan for science education from the earliest years and all throughout elementary school. From the introduction to principles, declarations to recommendations, this statement provides a far-reaching argument for science education in the elementary school years. I will be sharing this worldwide with the many teachers, pre-service candidates, administrators and policy makers that I know will appreciate it as a tool for guidance and support. I will also use it in my daily practices as a teacher so that I can inform parents, guide colleagues and build an even better environment for teaching and learning of science education in my own classroom. I encourage you to share this with your colleagues and continue to support elementary students and their families as they make connections to the world around them.

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Why Attend? | #NSTA18 in Charlotte, North Carolina

Known as the “Queen City,” Charlotte, North Carolina, is the third-fastest-growing major city in the United States. It is easy to understand what makes the city so popular thanks to its bustling and diverse restaurant and art scene, fabulous weather, and friendly people.

That’s why NSTA is excited to host the NSTA Area Conference on Science Education in Charlotte in just a few short weeks. The conference provides opportunities to network, learn new ideas, and gather teaching resources. And, you’ll get a chance to see firsthand what makes Charlotte such a beautiful southern town.

Here are more reasons why you should attend:

Expand Your Knowledge

Don’t miss the featured sessions from nationally known presenters, including keynote speaker Andrés Ruzo, geothermal scientist and National Geographic Explorer. Ruzo’s keynote talk, “Scientific Research, Amazonian Conservation, and K–12 Classrooms: A Story of Potential Energy,” takes us on a journey into the Amazon to explore the forces threatening the jungle, and potential solutions that may come from crossing disciplines and grade levels. In 2011, Ruzo became the first geothermal scientist granted permission to study the sacred Boiling River of the Amazon. He believes that environmental responsibility and economic prosperity can go hand in hand, and uses science to unite both aims.

Make a list of “must-attend” sessions ahead of time with the online session browser. And, gather some valuable tips for making the most of your time at the conference.

Connect with Colleagues

NSTA conferences are a terrific way to network with colleagues and friends. Play a game of Giant Connect 4 or Jenga with your friends in the new NSTA Teacher’s Lounge, which offers a convenient meeting spot at the conference.

In addition, “meet and greet” your elected NSTA officers on your way to the exhibits on Friday, November 30, from 2:45 to 3:30 p.m. The President, President-Elect, and Retiring President along with your Board and Council members are looking forward to talking with you at the conference. NSTA will be giving away several gift cards for use in the NSTA Store totaling $100, but you must be present to win. Drawing will take place at 3:20 p.m.

Renew Your Excitement about Science Teaching

With more than 300 presenter sessions and over 100 exhibitor workshops, you’ll feel energized and ready to take a ton of new ideas back to your classroom.

Jump right in on the first day of the conference with the NCSTA Share-A-Palooza, which takes place at the Westin Charlotte, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. As many as 50 dedicated science educators from across the state will share their most successful activities. Share-a-thons will take place at the same time for elementary; middle school; and Earth, life, and physical sciences. A keynote speaker will follow.

Explore the Exhibits

Discover cutting-edge solutions and the latest innovations and curriculum resources in the conference exhibit hall, and don’t forget to pick up FREE samples of high-quality teaching tools. 

In addition: 

  • Find out how to help your students earn grants and savings bonds PLUS learn how you can win a comprehensive lab makeover for your school;
  • Engage in hands-on lab activities led by expert trainers;
  • Learn how to enhance your teaching credentials with an advanced degree from a variety of leading educational institutions;
  • Discover how to take your students on an educational trip from leading eco-travel and tourism experts; and 
  • Enter to win Southwest Airlines tickets + FREE registration to next year’s National Conference in St. Louis or the 8th Annual STEM Forum & Expo, hosted by NSTA, in San Francisco.

Have Fun!  

Don’t miss out on “Science Social, Tinkering, and Energy Extravaganza!” on Thursday, November 29, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Discovery Place’s Education Studio, a museum center for innovation in education, for a night of fun and science! Enjoy delicious treats and drinks while you learn by play. Engaging energy challenges will pique your interest and inspire you to try your hand at solving some of the major energy problems of the future. Record your ideas and solutions on social media and win a prize for the best tweet of the night! RSVP by Monday, November 19. Space is limited.

And, if you’re a NASCAR fan (or even if you just want to check out what all the hoopla is about), show your NSTA conference badge at the NASCAR Hall of Fame box office and receive a discounted $15 ticket.

We look forward to seeing you at the NSTA Area Conference on Science Education in Charlotte!

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Ideas and inspiration from NSTA’s November 2018 K-12 journals

Regardless of what grade level or subject you teach, check out all three K-12 journals. As you skim through titles and descriptions of the articles, you may find ideas for lessons that would be interesting for your students, the inspiration to adapt a lesson to your grade level or subject, or the challenge to create/share your own lessons and ideas.

NSTA members, as always, have access to the articles in all journals! Click on the links to read or add to your library.


Science Scope – Motion and Stability

From the Editor’s Desk: Playing With Forces and Motion –”…because forces and motion are central to our lives, it is easy for students to harbor misconstructions as a result of observations made in daily life. Unfortunately, these misconstructions can lead to inaccurate conclusions that can be difficult to dispel…[students] need to confront their misconceptions through lab experiences that require them to observe, apply, and explain.”

These monthly columns continue to provide background knowledge and classroom ideas:

For more on the content that provides a context for projects and strategies described in this issue, see the SciLinks topics Cell Structure, Cells, Electric Circuits, Energy Transformations, Friction, Gravity, Law of Conservation of Energy, Metric System, Motion-Speed Relationship, Newton’s Laws of Motion, Newton’s First Law, Newton’s Second Law, Newton’s Third Law, Ohm’s Law, Pendulums, Plate Tectonics, Roller Coaster Physics,

Many authors share resources related to the lessons and strategies in their articles. These resources include rubrics, graphic organizers, handouts, diagrams, lists of resources, and complete lessons. You can access these through the Connections link for Science Scope.

Continue for Science & Children and The Science Teacher

Continue reading …

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Legislative Update: Key Midterm Election Results & What’s Ahead for Education and Science

As widely reported, the Democrats won the majority of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives which means some key changes ahead.

Education: House committee leadership positions will switch over at the start of the 116th Congress on January 3. It is widely expected that Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), a 13-term congressman and the ranking member on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, will take over as chair. Scott was one of the main architects of the Every Student Succeeds Act (which comes up for reauthorization in 2019).

It is also expected that this committee will be renamed the “Committee on Education and Labor.”

Rep. Scott told POLITICO last week he is hopeful that Congress can pass a bipartisan bill to update the Higher Education Act.  All eyes are also on the Democrats legislative agenda, particularly Rep. Scott’s infrastructure bill, the Rebuild America’s Schools Act, H.R. 2475 (115) which would create a $70 billion grant program and $30 billion tax credit bond program to improve school buildings in high-poverty schools and create a national database on the condition of public school facilities.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) is expected to take charge of the House Appropriations Committee for Labor/HHS and Education. Challenges next year will include the threat of sequestration and significantly lowered spending caps, and a 5% across-the-board cut proposed by the Administration.

With the Democrats in charge, watch for new oversight power they will use to scrutinize the Department of Education, especially around ESSA and civil rights issues.  But will it be Secretary DeVos testifying before the Congressional oversight committees? It is rumored that she is likely to be one of the cabinet secretaries expected to leave at the end of the year.

In the Senate: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) remains chair of the Senate HELP Committee and many anticipate the Senator will push to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA) before his term is up in 2020.

Two election results of particular interest to the education community: Wisconsin Governor-elect Tony Evers (D) the Wisconsin state superintendent, defeated incumbent Governor Scott Walker and U.S. Representative-elect Jahana Hayes (D-CT) Hayes, the 2016 National Teacher of the Year, will be the first African-American woman to represent Connecticut in Congress.

For a deeper dive into election results check out the Education Commission of the States post-election resources include results every state across the country in their infographic, education leadership changes and key takeaways from state ballot issues.

Science: Several new scientists will join the 116th session of Congress. Reports the Washington Post, “The newcomers, mostly Democrats, include Chrissy Houlahan, who has a degree in industrial engineering and won in Pennsylvania. Sean Casten, who has worked as a biochemist, flipped a longtime Republican district in Chicago. Ocean engineer Joe Cunningham, who came out strongly against offshore drilling, won in South Carolina. Lauren Underwood, a registered nurse, won Illinois’s 14th District. In Virginia, Elaine Luria, who has a nuclear engineering background, defeated the Republican incumbent, Scott Taylor. Jeff Van Drew, who won a seat representing the 2nd Congressional District in New Jersey, is a dentist.” In addition, Pediatrician Kim Schrier won the race in Washington’s 8th District and Rep Kevin Hern, a Republican from Oklahoma, holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

Two incumbents–Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.), a former high-energy physicist at Fermilab, and Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), who worked as an engineer and has a PhD in mathematics—kept their seats in Congress.

Shortly after the election Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), issued a statement indicating she will seek to be chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee in January. Johnson is currently ranking member of the committee. She vows to pursue an agenda that will:

  • “Ensure that the United States remains the global leader in innovation, which will require attention to a wide range of activities: promoting effective STEM education solutions, engaging the underrepresented minorities and blue collar workers in the STEM fields, supporting a robust federally funded R&D enterprise and emerging areas of science and technology, defending the scientific enterprise from political and ideological attacks, and challenging misguided or harmful Administration actions;
  • Address the challenge of climate change, starting with acknowledging it is real, seeking to understand what climate science is telling us, and working to understand the ways we can mitigate it; and finally,
  • Restore the credibility of the Science Committee as a place where science is respected and recognized as a crucial input to good policymaking.”

For more on the new science face of Congress, read Business Insider’s article, Eight New Scientists Elected to the House and Senate and the Washington Post article, How Science Fared in the Midterm Election.

U.S. Department of Education Declares National STEM Day

The U.S. Department of Education declared November 8 to be National STEM Day. On that day they announced that it had surpassed President Trump’s directive to invest $200 million in high-quality science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.  In total, the agency obligated $279 million in STEM discretionary funds in Fiscal Year 2018.

The Department also released the first ever data story on STEM, which explores both access to and enrollment in Algebra I in K-12 public schools using the 2015–16 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC).

The study shows that “80% of all eighth-grade students attend a school that offers Algebra I, but only 24% of these students are actually enrolled in the course.  This “leak” in the STEM pipeline can have long-term effects on students’ education, since Algebra I is considered the gatekeeper course to advanced math and science coursework.”

Understanding ESSA Report Cards

And finally, last week Secretary DeVos released a guide to help parents understand the report cards that states and school districts are required to publish under the Every Student Succeeds Act, detailing school performance.

Stay tuned, and watch for more updates in future issues of NSTA Express.

Jodi Peterson is the Assistant Executive Director of Communication, Legislative & Public Affairs for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and Chair of the STEM Education Coalition. Reach her via e-mail at jpeterson@nsta.org or via Twitter at @stemedadvocate.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

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Ed News: STEM: What’s Holding Females Back?

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This week in education news, Amazon announces new Amazon Future Engineer initiative; research project at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is exploring the use of flipped teaching in STEM courses; NASBE implores states to focus on the lowest-performing students in ESSA plans; music matters to STEM students; 2016 National Teacher of the Year elected to the U.S. House of Representatives; environmentalists are hoping that Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson will bring science back to the House science committee when she takes over as chair in the next Congress; the U.S. Department of Education will continue to focus on plugging “leaks” in the STEM education pipeline; research finds small benefits to small classes; and personalized learning has a big problem.

Amazon Future Engineer Program Expands STEM Access to Low-Income Student

As computer science jobs continue opening with too few college graduates possessing the necessary skills, Amazon announced Thursday its Amazon Future Engineer initiative, which will help “inspire, educate and train children and young adults from underserved and low-income communities to pursue careers in computer science,” according to a news release. Read the brief featured in Education DIVE.

STEM: What’s Holding Females Back?

While the 20th century saw women stride ahead in their participation in education and the workforce, there are still gender differences apparent in some areas of education. In particular, females do not enroll in higher mathematics, science, or ICT, or move into STEM-based careers to the same extent as males. Read the article featured in Teacher Magazine.

Researchers to Explore Flipped Teaching in STEM Courses

A research project at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is exploring the use of flipped teaching in STEM courses. Supported by a $598,402 grant from the National Science Foundation, the three-year project will help STEM faculty at SIUE and St. Louis Community College implement flipped teaching in their courses and examine both faculty and student experiences with the method. Read the article featured in Campus Technology.

Continue reading …

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